Open Source GIS History

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Software projects

In XX and XXI century, a series of other desktop and server Open Source GIS projects were started:


1978 - Map Overlay and Statistical System (MOSS). A pioneer vector-based geographic information system (GIS) developed by the U.S. Department of Interior. MOSS is still available to download ( Mr. Carl Reed has written an article about MOSS history.

since 1982-today - GRASS (Geographical Resources Analysis Support System) is the earliest Open Source GIS which reached production status and supported both raster and vector data. It was originally developed from 1982 to 1995 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, since then by the international GRASS Development Team. Initially published as public domain software, its license was changed to GNU GPL (General Public License, see in 1999.

1983 - PROJ4 library development started. The original proj was developed in the early 1980's as a ratfor (a fortran preprocessor) program (Evenden, 1983) with much of the code derived from the Geological Survey’s General Cartographic Transformation Package (gctp) (superceded by a more portable Version II by Elassal, 1987). Program proj was recoded in the C language when the mapgen package (Evenden and Botbol, 1985), of which proj is an integral part, was transfered to the Unix operating system. (References refer to [1])

1995 - UMN MapServer project started. In 2002 MapServer gets Python support.

1998 - deegree development started with an OGC Simple Features implementation. The project was renamed from JaGo to deegree in 2002.

1998 - GDAL/OGR development started. Python support was added in 2000.

1999 - GRASS GIS source code moved from manual management into CVS

2000 - Atlantis Scientific launched OpenEV project

2000 - JTS Topology Suite project was initiated in Fall 2000. JTS 1.0 was released in February 2002 and version 1.1 in March 2002.

2001 - OSSIM initial revision in CVS

2001 - PostGIS started

2001 - GeoNetwork opensource started as GeoNetwork, later renamed to GeoNetwork opensource.

2002 - Intevation,Gmbh starts Thuban projects

2002 - Quantum GIS initial revision in CVS

2002 - GEOS initial revision in CVS

2002 - AVPython for ArcView 3.x published as FOSS

2003 - Community MapBuilder started . The end of life of MapBuilder project was officially announced on 28 July 2008. ref

2003 - Release of MapBender under the GNU GPL license

2003 - gvSIG was started

2005 - MapGuide Open Source

2006 - MapBender gets first bits in CVS

2006 - OpenLayers started

2008 - GRASS GIS runs natively also on MS-Windows


1992: "Open GRASS Foundation" (OGF)

1994: OGF was re-structured as the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)

2006: Open Source Geospatial Foundation ( established whose mission is to support and promote the collaborative development of open geospatial technologies, data and educational material.

See also