MS RFC 128: Make C99 and C++11 build requirements




Even Rouault




Last update:



MapServer 7.6


MapServer currently requires C89 for its .c files and C++98/C++03 for its .cpp files. We propose to bump the requirements to C99 and C++11.

This RFC is not about converting at once the whole code base to C99 or C++11, but more about making it possible to do progressive porting where and when it makes sense. Potential future larger changes of base data structures for example will need to be addresed in dedicated RFCs.

More than a purely technical move, this is also intended to be an indication to the community at large that MapServer can embrace "modern" technologies (as far as one can consider standards of 9 or 20 years ago modern :-))


This has been discussed at length in projects that MapServer depends on, and which have already adopted the above requirements:

Proposed solution

  • In CMakeLists.txt, enforce C99 and C++11 requirements

  • In CMakeLists.txt, bump minimum version of CMake to 3.0: this just reflects the current state of MapServer main which uses a 3.0 feature for Python mapscripts.

  • Demo partial conversion in mapogcfiltercommon.c -> mapogcfiltercommon.cpp

Narrowing down C API

mapserver.h exposes a (too) large amount of functions as exported, mostly in mapserver.h, but also in other headers. We believe that most of them are not intended for external consumption. Such a large amount of exported functions can be an obstacle to refactoring and C++'ification. Looking in the archive of all source code that Debian maintains for "mapserver.h" only points to MapCache as including mapserver.h ( )

We thus propose that removal of public symbols is permitted, provided that:

  • MapServer binaries (mapserv, map2img, etc...) and MapScript, which are the main users of the C API, still compile. If changes are needed in them and that they doesn't affect the user, they are permitted.

  • MapCache still compiles. If changes would be needed in MapCache to compile, this must be discussed.

Backwards Compatibility Issues

Obsolete environments where MapServer used to build and that have not natively C99 support or C++11 will need to upgrade their toolchain.

On Windows side, this means Visual Studio 2015 or above. For gcc, at least 4.8 is needed.

Current versions of Linux or Windows binary distribution we are aware of have all the needed requirements. No change in the Travis and AppVeyor CI have been needed to make the below proposed implementation work.

Security implications


MapScript implications


Documentation needs and will need to mention the new build requirements

Ticket ID and references

Pull request available at:

Voting history

Adopted with +1 from PSC members SethG, EvenR, MichaelS, JeffM, SteveL, JukkaR, DanielM, StephanS, TomK