GeoServer is a Java-based software server that allows users to view and edit geospatial data. Using open standards set forth by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), GeoServer allows for great flexibility in map creation and data sharing.
GeoServer allows you to display your spatial information to the world. Implementing the Web Map Service (WMS) standard, GeoServer can create maps in a variety of output formats. OpenLayers, a free mapping library, is integrated into GeoServer, making map generation quick and easy. GeoServer is built on Geotools, an open source Java GIS toolkit.
There is much more to GeoServer than nicely styled maps, though. GeoServer also conforms to the Web Feature Service (WFS) standard, which permits the actual sharing and editing of the data that is used to generate the maps. Others can incorporate your data into their websites and applications, freeing your data and permitting greater transparency.
GeoServer is free software. This significantly lowers the financial barrier to entry when compared to traditional GIS products. In addition, not only is it available free of charge, it is also open source. Bug fixes and feature improvements in open source software are greatly accelerated when compared to traditional software solutions. Leveraging GeoServer in your organization also prevents software lock-in, saving costly support contracts down the road.
GeoServer can display data on any of the popular mapping applications such as Google Maps, Google Earth, Yahoo Maps, and Microsoft Virtual Earth. In addition, GeoServer can connect with traditional GIS architectures such as ESRI ArcGIS.
GeoServer has a large and vibrant community consisting of users and developers from all over the world. Support is available through a variety of sources, such as [email lists] and [IRC] (the latter with real time access to software developers). In addition, commercial support is available from a variety of providers. With GeoServer, you are always in good company.
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