Camptocamp – Actualités

The Openlayers Development Association: call for funding!

13 décembre 2018

The Openlayers project has been developed and maintained since the last major crowdfunded version 3 by dedicated companies and enthusiast developers. The project has seen numerous contributions and has achieved a major refactoring (ol5), using the new opportunities of Javascript ES6 modules. Closure compiler dependencies have been removed and webpack is now the preferred build system to provide sleek packages.

Major contributions aiming to support Vector Tiles according to the Mapbox specifications were added to the library. VT Tiles advantages are significant, both in terms of data processing and from the client perspective, such as user-centric map display, performance gains and offline use.

The community now targets to use the full potential of Vector Tiles layers and to fine-tune the VT rendering performance. This involves a major refactoring. We first introduced a new composite render where the layer is now responsible of its own rendering, delegating final composition to the browser. Technical investigations have demonstrated that there is a great potential for improvement, and that the overall library would benefit from the identified work as well. Additional contributions will focus on pure performance improvement by enabling webworkers to parallelize data download, processing and rendering. This would also open doors for advances in other contexts, new WebGL heatmap layer is a great exemple.

Swisstopo, the Swiss Federal Office of Topography, Switzerland’s national mapping agency supports the endeavor by granting the Openlayers Development Association USD 150’000.-. This contribution enables to progress at a much faster pace towards the next major release (Openlayers 6) which should be available end-February 2019.

A code sprint has been held at the end of November. 6 Openlayers developers worked intensively on the layer rendering refactoring. A detailed report is provided in this blog post: https://www.camptocamp.com/en/actualite/2018-openlayers-6-code-sprint/
A significant amount of work related to the vector tiles is still ongoing and needs to be accomplished:

  • Provide a metrics testbed
  • Move to composite rendering
  • Refactor replay instructions to prepare for webworkers
  • New rendering tests integration
  • Add Mapbox-gl as an Openlayers layer
  • Complete WebGL refactoring
  • Discuss about offscreen canvas

The Openlayers Development Association is reaching out for additional financial support in order to achieve the vector tiles work as well as to help cover important items such as:

  • Add type checking,
  • Rework the test suite,
  • New api documentation
  • New website

If you are a user of Openlayers, if this library is important to your business, you are encouraged to join this one time call for funding targeting Vector Tiles or to support on a long-term basis the maintenance and further developments of the Openlayers project. This is the only way to ensure this open source mapping library stays up-to-date and provides a long-term top-notch solution for users aiming at avoiding software vendor lock, such as the one provided by proprietary software editors or SaaS providers ones.

So please donate to the association, make sure your services provider contributes to Openlayers with contributors and frequent contributions, subscribe to Openlayers maintenance packages or get your development team involved in the community. Our goal is to match Swisstopo’s grant, i.e. that the broad community contributes up to 150kUSD!

For more information about this call for funding, please contact me by mail: emmanuel.belo@camptocamp.com.

If you’d like to support the Openlayers Development Association, please contact Claude Philipona, Chair of the Openlayers Development Association: claude.philipona@camptocamp.com.