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 used to be available to download ( until 2018 (OSGeo MOSS codebase recovery effort). Dr. Carl Reed has written an article about MOSS history. In September 2020, the OSGeo Board agreed to grant the MOSS project the status of a OSGeo Heritage Project. The source code is currently (2020) available here and will be long time preserved by OSGeo in the near future.

since 1982-today - GRASS GIS (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. Dr. Jim Westerwelt has written an article about the initial GRASS development history.

1983 - PROJ 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1983) with much of the code derived from the Geological Survey’s General Cartographic Transformation Package (gctp) (superceded by a more portable Version II by Elassal, 1987).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])

1994 - MapServer project started. In 2002 MapServer gets Python support.

1995 - rasdaman raster data manager project started. In 2009 rasdaman was open sourced.

1996 - GeoTools project started at the University of Leads. Superseded by GeoTools Lite (for applets) and in 2002 GeoTools 2 (using standards). The GeoTools 2 project was renamed to GeoTools in 2011. OSGEO Incubation: 2006 - 2008

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. OSGeo Incubation: 2009-2012

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

2001 - GeoServer started in 2001 by "The Open Planning Project". OSGeo incubation: 2009-present

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

2004 - uDig was started by Refractions Research.

2005 - MapGuide Open Source

2005 - GeoMoose project was started. In 2006 GeoMoose was open sourced. OSGeo incubation: 2007-2013

2006 - Mapbender gets first bits in CVS

2006 - OpenLayers started

2007 - ILWIS became open source

2008 - GRASS GIS runs natively also on MS-Windows

2008 - OSGeo-Live starts, with 100 CDs handed out at FOSS4G 2008, then DVDs handed out to all FOSS4G 2009 delegates.

2009 - Boost.Geometry accepted into Boost C++ Libraries


1992: "Open GRASS Foundation" (OGF, see here and here)

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