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MapChat 3 Development Plans

MapChat 3 development is currently underway. MapChat 2 has been in a relatively complete state for nearly two years. All updates since early 2009 have focused on bug fixes and upgrades to underlying libraries (e.g., jQuery and Zend).

The path forward for developing the next version of MapChat 3 focuses largely on upgrading the client-side mapping interface. This involves a major rewrite to replace the client-side ka-Map JavaScript code with the OpenLayers JavaScript library (the adapted server-side ka-Map code will continue to be used). There are a number of significant improvements that this change will bring to the MapChat software:

  1. A more up-to-date code base for the underlying mapping API in MapChat, which brings with it in-depth documentation and a highly active user and developer community for the OpenLayers project (all valuable resources for developing and working with MapChat).
  2. Support for existing free/third-party map resources (e.g., Google, Bing, Yahoo!, OpenStreetMap, etc.).
  3. Simplifcation of MapChat source code (many basic functions such as vector drawing and feature manipulation that are handled by custom code in MapChat 2 will be delegated to more stable/tested functions using OpenLayers' libraries).
  4. Greater potential for extending the functionality of MapChat (i.e., OpenLayers' native support for most open/common data formats and protocols, and controls for interacting with the map can be easily incorporated into new features/extensions for MapChat).

The MapChat 3 development plans include a variety of enhancements, including:

  1. Upgrades to the latest jQuery, jQuery UI, and Zend Framework libraries.
  2. Various bug fixes and UI enhancements.
  3. New features (e.g., an improved discussion administration interface, uploading photos/documents, GPS coordinates, etc.).
  4. Ability to attach files to chat messages.
  5. Browser Geolocation integration (i.e., retrieving a user's current location)
  6. Support for uploading GPS data (using GPX format)
  7. Tools for mobile browsers

This summary provides an overview of what is to come in the future for the MapChat project. However, MapChat 3 source code will not be available publicly until the redevelopment process is complete, and the application has reached a reasonable level of stability.

Anyone with an interest to contribute to MapChat's future development (financially or otherwise) can contact the MapChat project maintainers to discuss opportunities.