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MapLibre Launches as Official Open Source Successor to Mapbox GL JS – WordPress Tavern

In December, Mapbox shocked its open source contributor community with the news that Mapbox GL JS version 2.0 would be released under a proprietary license. The JavaScript library powers interactive, customizable vector maps on many high profile websites like CNN, The New York Times, Ancestry, Strava, Shopify, Facebook, and more. Older versions remain open source but Mapbox will only be investing in developing new features for the proprietary version going forward.

Multiple parties started their own forks immediately following Mapbox’s announcement. In an effort to avoid fragmentation, the community worked together to merge their ideas under one project. One month later, MapLibre GL is now the official open source successor to Mapbox GL JS. The project’s founders represent a diverse group of companies who relied on the open source software, including MapTiler, Elastic, StadiaMaps, Microsoft, Ceres Imaging, WhereGroup, Jawg, Stamen Design, and more.

“In December 2020, Mapbox released the second version of their JavaScript library for publishing maps online,” MapTiler founder and CEO Petr Pridal said. “However, this time all the new features were overshadowed by a change in the license: previously free as in freedom, it became closed for external contributors and usage was restricted to people with active Mapbox subscriptions. One has to pay even for loading this JavaScript library.”

Pridal said the MapLibre project name is a shortened form of “Map library restarted (or reinvented),” with libre referring to freedom and independence. Its founders agreed that MapLibre should be provider-independent, so developers can load maps from their preferred providers or self-hosted maps.

The community-led fork may also become home to MapLibre GL Native, as contributors are considering a proposal to put MapTiler’s open source fork of Mapbox’s mobile map SDKs for Android and iOS under the MapLibre umbrella.

Mapbox is used by WordPress.com as well as in Jetpack for the Map block. The library is also used in many plugins on WordPress.org, some with tens of thousands of users. Plugin developers who have integrated Mapbox GL JS version 1.13 or older will want to check out the MapLibre project as an open source alternative to Mapbox’s proprietary 2.0 update.

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