Regardless of whether you are just starting out with GeoServer or have been using it for years, we encourage you to subscribe to the user list and take an active part in the community. To help make the user list as useful and friendly as possible we ask you to observe the following code of behaviour.
You might be tempted to contact some of the people trying to help on the mailing list privately: please refrain from doing so, on the mailing list more people can loko at your message and provide answers, share different points of views, and besides that, messages on the public mailing list are archived for future reference.
If someone answers your requests please make sure your replies keep on being sent to the mailing list for the benefit of the entire community.
However, it's fine to send private messages if you are trying to share sensitive information which is necessary to solve the issue, or if you are trying to engage a developer in a commercial development/support contract.
Messages to the user list are not moderated so whatever is in your post when you hit the send button will be seen by all. Attempts to get undue attention, such as marking the message as "urgent" or title it "help me!!!", use a subject in full capitals, or sending multiple times the message in a row because you did not get an answer within the day will likely result in your message be ignored.
Before posting a question, check to see if it is already answered in the following:
- User Guide
- User list archives
- Use a web search engine with the error message you're getting, or with keywords summarizing the problem you're experiencing. Sometimes the solution is already available in a blog post, and other times or the search engine will get you straight the the documentation page talking about the problem.
If your are experiencing a problem when configuring data, making REST calls or using the OGC services it normally helps to have a certain amount of information from the start.
You can try to make a quick question before gathering all this data. We understand the list is long, but knowing from the start that you're on Linux using shapefiles vs Windows using SQL server, or using GeoServer 2.0.2 vs a nightly from trunk makes a world of difference in the answer you can get.
The list of information you should provide is:
- Your operating system.
- The Java version and vendor (e.g. Oracle/Sun Java 1.6.0_24)
- If the problem is with raster data, you have installed native JAI and JAI ImageIO
- The name and version of other software GeoServer is interacting with (e.g., PostgreSQL/Postgis, Oracle and so on)
- What web container is running GeoServer, which version (the default Windows/OSX installer, as well as the "bin" distribution all use Jetty 6)
- The version of GeoServer that you are using.
- The full stack trace of the errors you get, if applicable (look for it in the GeoServer logs, or enable "verbose exception reporting" in the "server" panel to get it also in OGC error reports
- A self contained way to reproduce your problem, that is:
- a data sample (no need to provide it if you can reproduce the issue with the demo data coming with the geoserver installation)
- the style, if applicable
- the OGC/REST request that fails for service and configuration requests, or the steps on the UI to reproduce the problem in case of administration GUI problem
- Anything else that might be needed to fully reproduce your problem. Remember that in most cases being able to reproduce your problem locally is the only way to provide you with help.
Parts of the information you need to report are available via the GeoServer GUI itself:
- the precise GeoServer version (in case you're using a nightly) is available in the "About" page
- the Java version and whether you have installed the JAI native extensions is available in the "Status page":
- the GeoServer logs are available in the "GeoServer logs" page:
Remember that everyone who answers questions on the list does so as a volunteer, often in their own spare time.
Depending on the work and life schedules of the GeoServer developers and other useful list members, it might not be possible to respond to your question immediately or even at all. It could also be that no one on the list knows the answer.
If your project requires immediate, guaranteed assistance you should investigate the commercial support options available for GeoServer.
If you have posted to the list seeking an answer to a GeoServer problem, and then discover the solution yourself, please take the time to share it with the list: your answer will then be there in the list archives for the benefit of future generations.
Also, if an answer solved your problem please let us know that, it will help morale of whoever helped you.
The user list is there to help you but it works best if you help it too. Give back to the GeoServer project and community by answering questions or pointing people towards other useful sources of information when you can: we will like you a lot (if instead we notice you make a lot of questions without ever helping out other people... well, not so much).
Bug fixing works pretty much like answers on the mailing list: unless you have a support contract covering your needs you have to assume developers will look at the issue in their free time left besides work, family and their normal life, and will have to prioritize them based on the gravity.
If you can develop in Java the best way to get the problem solved quickly is to participate in the solution and contribute a potential fix (with automated tests) to the rest of the community. The more we are developing code, writing documentation and answering questions, the easier it will be to cover everybody's needs.
We warmly recommend reading How to ask questions the smart way for more tips on how to get the most out of your user list membership.