64-bit Mapscript for Python on Windows

Tamas Szekeres maintains a site with many different compiled versions of MapServer at http://vbkto.dyndns.org/sdk/ (the site can occasionally be overloaded or down). These are compiled daily direct from the source. It is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of treasures – especially if you are installing on a Windows Server, and even more so if you are installing for 64bit.

It gets even better though! Included in the installation are the latest SQL Server 2008 driver, 64 bit GDAL, and MapScript Python bindings. MapScript allows MapServer functions and classes to be scripted in a variety of languages.

As Python is becoming ubiquitous in the GIS world (opensource and proprietary), if you aren’t familiar with PHP then You can download the zip file and extract to a folder on your machine, in the example below I used C:\ms4w64 (old habits die hard!).

Install Steps

1. Add C:\ms4w64\bin to your system PATH environment variable (right-click on My Computer, select Properties, Advanced, Environment Variables, then in System Variables select PATH and edit. Remember to put a semi-colon ; between folders in the path.


Adding this folder to your PATH will allow Windows to find the MapServer and GDAL DLLs used by Mapscript.

2. Now we want to make the Mapscript Python module available in Python. There are a couple of options here. I took the files from C:\ms4w64\bin\ms\python and copied them into C:\Python26\Lib\site-packages – the default search location for third party Python modules. The files to copy across are:

  • _mapscript.pyd
  • mapscript.py
  • A mapscript.pyc (compiled Python) file will be generated on first use

Alternatively you can add the C:\ms4w64\bin\ms\python folder to the PYTHONPATH Window’s environment variable as in step 1.

Important! You will need to log off, or restart your PC in order for the environment variables to be “refreshed” by the operating system.

Either way you should now be able to type “import mapscript” in IDLE without receiving errors.



Traceback (most recent call last):
File "<pyshell#0>", line 1, in <module>
import mapscript
ImportError: No module named mapscript

Python can’t find the Mapscript module. Try typing the following commands into Idle to see the folders that Python checks looking for modules:

import sys
print sys.path


Traceback (most recent call last):
File "<pyshell#13>", line 1, in <module>
import mapscript
File "C:\Python25\lib\site-packages\mapscript.py", line 28, in <module>
import _mapscript
ImportError: DLL load failed with error code 193

It is likely you are using a 32 bit version of Python with 64 bit versions of the MapServer DLLs. You may have reinstalled and reconfigured Python so many times that you have actually forgotten what you installed. A useful program in this case can be downloaded from http://www.mitec.cz/exe.html

This tells you the processor type for a .exe file such as python.exe. Check that it is a 64-bit version as shown below.


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  1. […] for many packages including GDAL (there are further details on using 64 bit GDAL and MapScript here), and a compilation of many packages including geopy, simplejson, sphinx, pytools and many […]

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