[Chameleon] Development Time

Paul Spencer
Thu, 15 Jan 2004 13:11:29 -0500

several others have answered already, but I'll throw my 2c in.

Developing a chameleon application is something that will take you 
between 2 hours and 2 weeks :)  This depends in large part on your 
familiarity with the widgets and wrapping your head around how things 
work.  A lot of stuff happens by magic, and until you 'get' how it 
works, it can cause quite a lot of problems in unexpected ways.  A 
barrier to 'getting' it is a lack of complete documentation and good 
examples.  We are working on the documentation as quickly as we can, but 
the fact remains that this is still a work in progress.

If you take the latest version of chameleon and the chameleon example, 
assuming you have got everything installed including Chameleon, PHP and 
PHP/MapScript - MapServer, then you need to build a MAP file (for 
MapServer to know where and what format your data is in) and make a 
small change to the sample application.  You will then have a live web 
mapping application with your data.  This would take about 1 day if you 
know nothing about MapServer (to build the map file).  At this point, 
you would start playing with the application interface (or template) and 
modifying it to your preferred look and feel (web page design and layout).

If you start doing graphic work as well, that can add a lot of time.

So it could take as little as 2 hours to get a new application going, 
but could take several weeks depending on the other (non-web-mapping) 

Once you understand how chameleon works, it is a lot easier to build a 
basic application, and most of the time is actually spent designing the 
web page (application template in chameleon terms) rather than fussing 
with widgets.

For MapServer, it depends on the skill levels of the people involved and 
the platform you are on.

If you have a pre-existing environment that you are trying to integrate 
into, then I would allow more time.  If not, it can be quite 
straightforward and quick.  For example, on Windows you can get a 
pre-configured mapserver environment including Apache web server, PHP, 
mapserver, PHP mapscript and some applications from  This typically takes 1 hour to download 
and 17 seconds to install (it's just a zip file :))

If you want to work with IIS, you have to set up both MapServer and PHP 
as CGIs in order for Chameleon to work.  This has been accomplished on 
every version of Windows and IIS to my knowledge, but it can be 
problematic for loads of people because of security constraints or other 

On linux or any other *nix, it should take no more than 8-10 hours to 
get everything installed depending (again) on the box.  A vanilla 
install would be more likely to work quickly, a highly customized and 
upgraded box would probably require additional time for solving library 
dependency problems (most commonly with GD).

Of course, there are the mailing lists and even commercial consulting 
support for those that need/wish it.  The mapserver community is 
especially helpful and deals with a wide range of issues every day from 
newbie questions to really advanced, bleeding edge uses.  Its a very 
dynamic mailing list that is highly recommended (by me anyway :)) 
Chameleon's list has less activity, but it is starting to grow and we 
are starting to see some experts emerge in the community already (like 
Bart and the GeoDan folks).  And there are new users every day, it is 
gratifying to see other folks jump in to respond to questions on the list.

Hope that helps,


Faye Cowie wrote:

> Good Morning,
> It sounds like Chameleon allows the deployment of web mapping 
> applications fairly quickly. But can someone give me examples of 
> development time assuming the spatial data is ready to be served and 
> only existing widgets are used, no new ones developed.
> What about MapServer? How much time is typically required to get it set up.
> Thanks in advance.
> Faye
> NB Aquatic Data Warehouse
> Canadian Rivers Institute
> University of New Brunswick
> Sir James Dunn Wildlife Research Center
> Room 263
> 1350 Regent Street
> Fredericton, NB   E3C 2G6
> Mailing Address:
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> Doaktown, NB  E9C 1M9
> Phone:  (506) 365-8927
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> Email:

|Paul Spencer                     |
|Applications & Software Development                              |
|DM Solutions Group Inc       |

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