OpenLayers Report 2008

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  • Contact name: Erik Uzureau, Chris Schmidt, Tim Schaub

Key Accomplishments

In 2008, OpenLayers had two major releases that demonstrate the majority of our work on the library in this time frame.

OpenLayers 2.6 added significant visual improvements, including animated panning of the map and improved popup support for better in-map visualization. In support of our growing international usage, the project now includes a system for internationalization support into the library. We also added a powerful new API for styling client side data, and added support for connecting to MapGuide data sources.

The 2.7 release added improved rendering capabilities and the ability to read OGC standard SLD style documents. "Vector Behaviours", a massive development and the driving feature of the release, allows users to easily extend OpenLayers to support communication with custom data providers through open or proprietary protocols.

Alongside the improvements in the project's codebase, many excellent additions were made to the OpenLayers website. The "Gallery" section, which catalogues different live deployments of OpenLayers, was rewritten to be both easier to use and more visually compelling. It now proudly showcases more than 75 uses of the library, complete with screenshots and detailed descriptions. The Documentation section of the website was also thoroughly revamped. Both the standard library documentation as well as the FAQ sections of the site were migrated away from the wiki and into a more structured, elegant format for presentation. Finally, a "Case Studies" section was added to the website which allows organizations to share why they chose OpenLayers and the experience they've had working with and supporting the project.

Areas for Improvement

  • Documentation, as with any open source project, is always in need of expansion and improvement. With the new OpenLayers documentation site up and running, it is now easier to create documentation.
  • Thorough API review. As we bend towards the 8th release of the 2nd OpenLayers API, there are many who long for a massive spring cleaning session to build a 3.0 version of the library.
  • Improved access to third party services. With the new protocols and formats, it is now possible to easily create tools which allow OpenLayers to communicate with more servers. One target which has thus far been neglected, for example, is ESRI's server products, both in access to map tiles and vector data. It would be great to see the community step up to help support these important targets.

Opportunities to Help

  • OpenLayers is now a member of the OSGeo Project Sponsorship program, which allows organizations to support the project financially through donations to OSGeo. If your organization is using OpenLayers successfully, consider donating funds to the project to help support its continued success.
  • The new Case Studies section needs more contributions. If your organization is or has considered using OpenLayers, share your story with others, and help them to understand why and how you chose to use OpenLayers.
  • Internationalization - We currently have only 15 of the 7,000 living languages translated in the library. The translation process is simple (only 28 strings total).
  • Ticket Review - As always, there are many more tickets with patches waiting review than available developer hours. If you have even a little experience with JavaScript, you can help to try out the new code that developers are writing and offer feedback.
  • Documentation - Efforts continue to improve the library's documentation, and users of the library are the most effective contributors to this. Participate on the mailing lists and share your problems and solutions, then use the tools in the OpenLayers project to convert them into documentation for all users.

Outlook for 2009

2009 brings new leadership to the project's Steering Committee as Tim Schaub takes over the reigns as the new PSC chair.

Efforts are already underway for a 2.8 release which will include long-awaited WFS Protocol functionality, as well as a massive improvement to OpenLayers's vector capabilities which increase performance and interactivity for maps integrating multiple vector layers.