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Need help understanding online map server options

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#1
tonyw

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Hi, 

  I'm looking for a way for my clients to see maps online. These will be project specific maps and will need some password protection for access. I've played with Manifold IMS witih Windows running IIS but it's not the ideal solution as I don't have a computer that is on all the time. My clients don't have budget for hosted map service subscriptions either. I do have a Synology Network attached Server which will run certain programs including Geoserver and the NAS is on all the time. qGIS offers a mapserver but I think I run into the same limitation of needing a PC running all the time. The advantage is the qGIS mapserver uses the same map file as the desktop qGIS which is simple and elegant.

 

  So I have been looking at Geoserver but from what I understand it serves up map layers to use in other mapping programs for instance serving up WMS layers for someone to use in a qGIS map on their PC. Am I correct that a user can't connect to Geoserver using a web browser and see a map in their browser then click to turn on and off layers, pan around, zoom in and out, and print or otherwise keep a copy of the map they've assembled from the layers I've offered up? Essentially my own version of Google Maps.

 

  I haven't found the precise terminology yet. "Map server" seems to cover both online maps (e.g., Google maps) and online serving up of map layers (e.g., WMS server) to be used elsewhere. Any help with the terminology would be appreciated. 

 

  What I do now is either fabricate the map myself and send them a PDF or send them .KLM files they can open in Google Earth as layers and they can turn layers on/off as they wish and zoom around. With a map server my goal is to keep adding to the maps so when they log in the next time, some new aspect of a project will be available as well as layers they've seen before.

 

Thanks. 



#2
frax

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Did you look at MapBox?


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#3
tangnar

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MapBox, as frax mentioned, or CartoDB offer free subscriptions up to a certain data limit.  There's a QGIS Cloud plugin for hosting maps straight from QGIS with a data limit for free subscription as well, but I don't know anything about it. My suspicion is that if you need secure access, you'll have to pay for something or develop it on your own server.  With MapBox and CartoDB, you could just send the client a link, but the it won't be necessarily protected if anyone else got a hold of the link. I've used ArcGIS Online the way that you describe (password protected maps to clients) at a job, but of course that is $$$. 

 

My thought is to get a web developer to help you put together a database, server and web map workflow that suits your needs.  I'm guessing this is a business for you, so it might be worth it to build such a set up. 

 

clarification* - I could be wrong, but I don't know if your NAS would really be a good server for something like your maps. 

 

Good luck!



#4
Nichodemus

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Mango Map https://mangomap.com/ is one way to get simple webmaps online without having to deal with hosting and servers and so forth. Like most webmapping, the cartographic aspects of it are somewhat limited, although it does have labeling. They have packages down to $30 a month, although I think password protected maps run higher. I've used it some. Upload your shapefiles and set your symbols and go.

 

If you have a maintenance subscription to ArcGIS, you are entitled to 1 license per subscription for ArcGIS Online. You can do a lot with it, but without the entitlement subscription, its expensive.



#5
tonyw

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Hi all, thanks for the suggestions, these are great for interactive mapping. Tangnar123, you're correct this is a business, a one person enterprise. I've been sending PDFs of maps and that seems to work though it's static. When the discussion takes a turn I generate another map for discussion and send it along. Having something more interactive is the goal. One solution I've used is Join.me and shared my desktop with colleagues and clients so they see the map as i'm manipulating it. Then as we talk I can zoom to an area of interest, add layers, change colours, etc. I figured if I load up the layers these folks can interactively manipulate the maps on their own. Clicking boxes is about all they'll consider, it would be nice if I could get them to use something like QGIS but that won't happen. 

 

Something else I've tried is loading up .kml files to my NAS, put them in a directory and let folks download them and open in Google Earth. I can get them to use Google Earth and they can add whatever layers they want. So that moves the processing needs to their PC's /Mac's and off my NAS. I've also discovered that Google Earth will connect to a WMS server and as you pan around, the web map server serves up the layers for the area in view. Instructions here, should apply generally http://www.data.gov....th_connect.pdf  So perhaps if I can get GeoServer working on my NAS, maybe I can serve up .kml files. 

 

I'm going to check out MapBox some more, the pricing is reasonably at $5/month for starters and offers satellite view maps. 

 

Thanks for the tips.







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