The geospatial world rightly got quite excited over the last few weeks with the discovery that Geofabrik are offering openstreetmap data in shape file format. You have been able to export openstreetmap data to postgresql (and from there to shape or whatever takes your fancy) for some time, but this makes the process of really using the data far easier.
However, I got to wondering exactly how useful it would be as a real-life background dataset (in the absence of anything affordable from the Ordnance Survey or similar), when you would need to repeat the process ad infinitum to keep the dataset up to date. I remembered that once upon a time there was an openstreetmap wms server, but that it was taken down several years ago.
A quick google search, however, shows that the Geofabrik crew are actually in the process of putting up their own wms server and it’s in testing at the moment. This is fantastic news, and I for one look forward to more information about their progress!