Purpose: Specify Mapbuilder long term Goals and outline roadmap for achieving them.

  1. #Introduction
  2. #Criteria for a successful project
  3. #Metrics
    1. #Download Metrics
    2. #Email Traffic Metrics
    3. #Subversion Commit Metrics
  4. #Requested Improvements
    1. #Speed up downloads
    2. #Simplify user setup
    3. #Improve look and feel
    4. #Improve Google Search ranking
    5. #Access Google maps
  5. #Roadmap
    1. #Regular Stable Releases
    2. #Integrate with similar projects
    3. #OSGeo and Marketing
    4. #Project Management Structure
    5. #Documentation
    6. #Fast demo site
  6. #Previous Strategic Direction Papers

Introduction

This document summarises the state of the Mapbuilder project and it's relationship with projects around it, identify upcoming features and opportunities, and suggest where to focus future effort and funding to maximise Mapbuilder's potential.

Mapbuilder downloads doubled in the month after OSGeo was created with Mapbuilder as one of the founding projects. We need to continue with these marketing efforts. To facilitate this, we should encourage users to join the Project Steering Committee.

Mapbuilder has lots of great features in the trunk which have not been released yet. This is reducing the uptake of Mapbuilder. We need to put out releases again.

There are a number of AJAX Web Mapping clients and not all of them will thrive. In particular, OpenLayers is addressing the simple mapping use cases and is cutting into Mapbuilder's potential user base. We should set our development path toward merging with OpenLayers.

Criteria for a successful project

Refraction's State of Open Source GIS provides an excellent checklist for evaluating open source projects.
The more of these questions which are answered in the positive, the healthier the OSS project under examination is.

Metrics

Download Metrics

This graph shows a steady growth in interest since the start of the project, with a doubling of downloads when the OSGeo Foundation was founded (with Mapbuilder a founding project) in March 2006.

Date

Downloads

Apr-04

0

May-04

31

Jun-04

173

Jul-04

115

Aug-04

69

Sep-04

38

Oct-04

40

Nov-04

32

Dec-04

26

Jan-05

54

Feb-05

88

Mar-05

127

Apr-05

160

May-05

213

Jun-05

280

Jul-05

230

Aug-05

221

Sep-05

235

Oct-05

319

Nov-05

332

Dec-05

420

Jan-06

469

Feb-06

536

Mar-06

1,141

Apr-06

1,029

May-06

1,040

Jun-06

1,206

Jul-06

1,213

Aug-06

1,153

Sep-06

1,059

Oct-06

1,346

Nov-06

1,008

Dec-06

869

Jan-07

1,351

Feb-07

1,359

Data Source: http://sourceforge.net/project/stats/detail.php?group_id=35246&ugn=mapbuilder&type=prdownload&mode=alltime&package_id=116388

Email Traffic Metrics

This shows the monthly number of emails for Developer and User email lists. The fact that User emails is less than Developer emails suggests that Mapbuilder is too difficult for users to download and get working and we should focus more on user needs.

A drop in developer activity over the last couple of months is probably due to:

  1. Some time being focused toward incorporating Mapbuilder in OSGeo.
  2. Some corresponding focus on documentation.
  3. Some key developers focusing on applying Mapbuilder to applications rather than extending Mapbuilder.

    Date

    Devel

    User

    Total

    May-03

    2

     

    2

    Jun-03

    20

     

    20

    Jul-03

    24

     

    24

    Aug-03

    38

     

    38

    Sep-03

    23

     

    23

    Oct-03

     

     

    0

    Nov-03

    10

     

    10

    Dec-03

    24

     

    24

    Jan-04

    88

     

    88

    Feb-04

    200

     

    200

    Mar-04

    114

     

    114

    Apr-04

    85

     

    85

    May-04

    85

     

    85

    Jun-04

    191

     

    191

    Jul-04

    60

     

    60

    Aug-04

    75

     

    75

    Sep-04

    53

     

    53

    Oct-04

    47

     

    47

    Nov-04

    103

     

    103

    Dec-04

    72

     

    72

    Jan-05

    57

     

    57

    Feb-05

    71

     

    71

    Mar-05

    153

    2

    155

    Apr-05

    79

    15

    94

    May-05

    121

    1

    122

    Jun-05

    153

    14

    167

    Jul-05

    147

     

    147

    Aug-05

    203

    3

    206

    Sep-05

    417

    8

    425

    Oct-05

    267

    37

    304

    Nov-05

    182

    14

    196

    Dec-05

    211

    42

    253

    Jan-06

    363

    148

    511

    Feb-06

    338

    108

    446

    Mar-06

    369

    104

    473

    Apr-06

    128

    84

    212

    May-06

    150

    133

    283

    Jun-06

    128

    66

    194

    Jul-06

    96

    82

    178

    Aug-06

    63

    34

    97

    Sep-06

    71

    86

    157

    Oct-06

    107

    59

    166

    Nov-06

    145

    83

    228

    Dec-06

    182

    45

    227

    Jan-07

    119

    75

    194

    Feb-07

    72

    60

    132

    Data source: http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/forum.php?forum_id=44559 and http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/forum.php?forum_id=475

Subversion Commit Metrics

This graph tracks the number of lines of code in the Mapbuilder repository. The graph shows a that mapbuilder has been steadilly growing since December 2003.

Source data: http://fisheye.codehaus.org/browse/~br=trunk/mapbuilder/trunk/mapbuilder/mapbuilder/lib

Requested Improvements

Speed up downloads

Mapbuilder has numerous Javascript files which are dynamically downloaded at startup. It would be around 80% faster to merge the files into one.

We need a fast demo site. We should look to OSGeo to provide this.

Simplify user setup

Improve look and feel

Google, Yahoo, OpenLayers have all done good work on usability. We should copy that. In particular:

Improve Google Search ranking

We should aim to get our website returned as the first site in Google when looking for "Mapbuilder" instead of getting a Google mashup site.
We can improve things by changing the title of Mapbuilder's homepage to include "Mapbuilder in the title".

Access Google maps

Most users now want access to Google basemaps. We can provide this by tapping into the webmap.js application about to be built.

Roadmap

Regular Stable Releases

Since version 1.0, there have been a significant number of features added to the mapbuilder baseline:

Users ask about the new features, but continue to use the latest stable release due to the need for stability and I've seen some users turned away due to the lack of a recent release.

The trunk version of Mapbuilder is reasonably stable, but there has only been limited testing of the new code.

We need to put out a new release so that we can demonstrate our latest functionality. I suggest we call this release 2.0rc1 due to all the extra functionality added.

Integrate with similar projects

There are a number of web mapping clients doing similar things to Mapbuilder or with features that Mapbuilder would like to copy. We could attempt to compete against these projects and try to be bigger, better, faster. Eventually one of our projects is likely to come out the winner and all the rest will quietly slip away into the historical archieves.

However, a friendlier and more powerful solution would be for us to join forces with similar projects and focus on one great product instead of lots of good products.

There has been a move toward a cross webmapping project discussed at the FOSS4G conference. Notes on webmap-discuss email list (I can't find the archieve) and something similar at http://wiki.osgeo.org/index.php/FOSS4G_2006_Tiling_BOF.

In particular, we should start by using OpenLayers as our Rendering Engine which is relatively easy to implement. This would cause a software stack like the following:

Mapbuilder

OpenLayers

WMS

WFS

GoogleMaps

YahooMaps

MNSMaps

kaMap

etc

We need to be aware that the stack could be seen as a threat to OpenLayers as Mapbuilder will be placed in the prefered position of being at the top of the stack (and closest to the customer). To alley OpenLayer's potential fears, we need to work with OpenLayers toward a merging of the projects (where we can both be at the top of the stack).

Between the webmapping applications, we need to help users identify which application to use and when. Mapbuilder should target feature rich applications. (Open layers is targeting simple, fast use cases).

We should work with the other projects do define a common API so that users can easilly migrate from one application to another as their requirements change.

Mission Statement

We need to revisit our mission statement and ensure it is inline with the direction we are now taking.
Eg: Mapbuilder is powerful, standards compliant, tailorable, extensible, webmapping client based on AJAX.
AJAX.

OSGeo and Marketing

After becoming part of OSGeo, Mapbuilder downloads doubled. So the extra marketing is obviously good for us.

Mapbuilder has completed all the graduation criteria for Mapbuilder, so we should make sure we continue to finish the graduation process.

We should also look at other forms of marketing. OSGeo is calling for this and we should work in conjunction with OSGeo.

  1. A short promotional video explaining Mapbuilder
  2. Ensure Mapbuilder is represented at OS GIS conferences.
  3. Create a OS GIS distribution and ensure Mapbuilder is part of the distribution.
  4. Mapbuilder is distributed with Geoserver. We need to ensure this continues.
  5. We should consider bundling Mapbuilder with UDig and QGIS to provide a heavy/light client solution.
  6. Mapbuilder has been used in OGC testbeds. This will add credability but probably won't increase the reach of Mapbuilder significantly.
  7. What else?

Project Management Structure

Mapbuilder has a Project Steering Committee of 4 developers. This has ensured that we have developed a fully functional robust application, but we are probably not as responsive to user needs as we should be.

This could be addressed by inviting more user and marketing type people into the Management structure of Mapbuilder to help drive future priorities.

Documentation

Documentation has improved since the last release, thanks to a drive by Peter Miller, but we can still focus on improving the docs and making things simple.

Previous Strategic Direction Papers

  1. Strategic Direction - February 2008 (Doubling as Mapbuilder's OSGeo 2007 Annual Report).
  2. September 2006
  3. April 2006
  4. June 2005