MS RFC 102: Support of Styleitem JavaScript Plugin

Author:Alan Boudreault
Version:MapServer 7.0


this feature is experimental and backwards compatibility may be broken in the not-so-short term.


Refer to STYLEITEM Javascript for the up-to-date documentation.

1. Overview

Currently, we can style our features by using classes and styles in the mapfile. We can do a lot of styling with the mapserver expressions. However, it might end up with a hundred of mapfile lines for a styling layer depending of the complexity of the data. It is also very hard to maintain. We can also specify the a STYLEITEM option (AUTO or [attribute]) where mapserver get the feature style, but this is very not flexible.

2. Proposed solution

This RFC proposes the addition of a STYLEITEM javascript plugin. The goal of this plugin support is to be able to style our features programmatically. This will be accomplished through javascript using the V8 Engine.

3. Implementation Details

MapServer will have a new addition: the V8 javascript engine integration. There will be a generic implementation in mapserver with the necessary stuff for the v8 engine: compiling and executing javascript code. It will also allow the use of javascript in some other parts of the mapserver code if needed.

3.1 V8 Basic Implementation

  • Compilation of javascript code and files.
  • Execution of javascript code.
  • MapServer internal Javascript execution context: thread-safe and performance.
  • Exposing objects to V8 to be used in Javascript. (Only the shape object will be available for now)
  • Integration of some handlers for MapServer: error, debugging and backtrace of the javascript code.

3.2 Styleitem Javascript

The STYLEITEM javascript plugin will be similar to current styleitem options. Rather than writing classes in the layer definition, we will specify the javascript file to be executed for the feature styles. The shape attributes will be exposed to javascript. The javascript plugin will have to return one of these two options:

  • a STYLE definition (Plain String)
  • a CLASS definition with one or multiple styles (Plain String)

3.3 Mapfile and JavaScript Examples


    NAME "my_vector_layer"
    STYLEITEM "javascript:///path/to/my/file.js"
    # empty class needed in current implementation of styleitem.


require('./global_variables.js'); // for symbols array

// random symbol
var symbol = symbols[Math.floor(Math.random()*symbols.length)];
var style = style = "STYLE SIZE 12 SYMBOL '"+symbol+"'";

if (shape.attributes.COULEUR != '#000000') {
    style += "COLOR '"+shape.attributes.COULEUR+"' END";
} else {
    // random color
    red = Math.random()*255;
    green = Math.random()*255;
    blue = Math.random()*255;
    style += "COLOR "+red+" "+green+" "+blue+" END";

// return the style to MapServer

3.4 Files affected

  • mapv8.cpp: Generic implementation of the V8 support.
  • maplayer.c: STYLEITEM Support for JavaScript.

3.5 Backwards Compatibility Issues

None expected, new functionality.

3.6 MapScript changes


4. Voting history

Passed with +1 from Thomas, Daniel, Mike, Tamas, Stephen, Perry and Stephan