Most of what you’ll ever want to do know or figure out about Mapserver a simple google search will probably deliver. But if you’re like me and you occasionally like to read a chapter in a book by someone who can write and spell and finish a thought or example, then you’ll want to pick up a book. I have three books on my shelf that discuss Mapserver.
“Mapping Hacks” by Erle, Gibson & Walsh is ancient by technology standards, and it’s definitely not a GIS textbook nor a rigorous how-to-manual on any specific software. It’s a compendium of hacks just as the title suggests and it’s a great book to have around the house. I pick it up a lot without looking for anything specific and seem to come across something interesting every time despite the agedness. It’s got a few hacks about Mapserver (e.g. #91 Build Interactive Web-Based Map Applications).
What I like best about this book is that it’s sortof language agnostic and has examples from different languages and for different platforms and packages.
“Web Mapping” by Tyler Mitchell, equally old, is much more of a getting-started tutorial for Mapserver with a number of chapters dedicated to Mapserver. In fact, most of the book is about Mapserver and it discusses both Linux and Windows installation.
“Web Mapping” is a great way to understand Mapserver the first time around, and it also either refreshes your memory on or introduces you to some related Open Source tools (GDAL,OGR, OpenEV, PostGIS…).
Chapter 4 – Installing Mapserver
Chapter 10 – talks about Mapserver Utilities
Chapter 14 – Mapscript
Overall, “Web Mapping” is one of the friendlier GIS books while still being technical.
“Beginning Mapserver”, finally, is the way to go once you’re through the initial headaches. This is 448 pages of mapscript and PHP/Python code on getting the most out of Mapserver. I wouldn’t recommend it for getting Mapserver installed on Windows. The text is pretty Linux heavy. So if you’re a Linux user, or interested in Linux, try doing it that way. I installed Mapserver on Ubuntu once and didn’t have any trouble getting it started. But the author Bill Kropla also recommends building the working parts for Mapserver from source (something I don’t like burdening myself with).
Whichever way you decide to install, once your app is up and running, you should find plenty in this book to keep you busy. Apart from the official online Mapserver documentation, I don’t know of an equally comprehensive and valuable source of information.
I don’t have this one within arm’s reach… but I seem to remember there was quite a bit of good info on Web GIS, especially Web Services, e.g. WMS, WFS… The table of contents here (it’s not accessible on amazon.com) shows a lot of material on preparing the data for your web GIS (PostGIS/Postgres) and Geoserver, which I haven’t used. But overall, it’s one of those books that – even if you can’t use it all directly – it might give you different/alternate perspective of the way you do things vs. how other(s) do.