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Review of Current Web Mapping Sites

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#1
Simon

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It appears web mapping is the new black.

I would like to focus this topic on an overall round-up of what online mapping packages are out their.
  • Their Capabilities
  • Their costs
  • Their pros & cons
  • Ease of use
  • Examples of them being used

I personally come from a GIS background, working mainly on analysis projects, but have some experience with commerical packages such as ArcIMS and ArcGIS Server, and some experience with web mapping environments such as Google Maps, Live Maps, Mapserver and Openlayers.

There are loads of different packages and dont want to run off lists of every which one, but more focus on the ones that appear to be dominating (such as some of the ones mentioned above).

Not just limited to map display - open to discuss geoprocessing on the web in a client/server model, or even editing over the web.

Again technologies such as Spatial RDBMS can also be delved into if need be (e.g. PostgreSQL, ArcSDE, etc)

Not too sure where to start from that.

I personally am trying to focus my self-development time with ArcGIS Server and more specifically the 9.3 Javascript API. I think ESRI have done some good work here, albeit fairly hefty license costs.

#2
James Hines

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It appears web mapping is the new black.

I would like to focus this topic on an overall round-up of what online mapping packages are out their.

  • Their Capabilities
  • Their costs
  • Their pros & cons
  • Ease of use
  • Examples of them being used

I personally come from a GIS background, working mainly on analysis projects, but have some experience with commerical packages such as ArcIMS and ArcGIS Server, and some experience with web mapping environments such as Google Maps, Live Maps, Mapserver and Openlayers.

There are loads of different packages and dont want to run off lists of every which one, but more focus on the ones that appear to be dominating (such as some of the ones mentioned above).

Not just limited to map display - open to discuss geoprocessing on the web in a client/server model, or even editing over the web.

Again technologies such as Spatial RDBMS can also be delved into if need be (e.g. PostgreSQL, ArcSDE, etc)

Not too sure where to start from that.

I personally am trying to focus my self-development time with ArcGIS Server and more specifically the 9.3 Javascript API. I think ESRI have done some good work here, albeit fairly hefty license costs.

I would suggest PHP, MySQL, & Apache because most web providers run at that technology. But instead of downloading directly from those sites you might want to try a LAMP bundle package such as XAMPP or EasyWAMP. BTW the software is free, however if you like donate to the project. ;)

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#3
Simon

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I agree that PHP, MySQL and Apache are important technologies to learn as they form basic building blocks behind a lot of web mapping sites - however I am more interested in concentrating on the actual mapping technologies themselves.

#4
rmcculley

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I use MapServer.

Their Capabilities
  • When built with GDAL / OGR, MapServer can read damn near any geographic format you can throw at it. Some are faster than others, but almost all popular, and even plenty of less popular file formats, work. We use vector data stored in PostGIS, and raster data in GeoTIFF format.
  • Reasonably Fast. Making maps on the fly is time consuming. Period. Without the aerial photo's, our intranet app can push out maps in about a second, which isn't too bad at all.
  • With version 5, cartographic output improved a lot. MapServer can make some pretty nice looking maps.
  • Lots of output options. jpg,bmp,png,tiff,svg,pdf and flash to name a few.
  • Cross platform. Works on pretty much and computer / operating system out there.
  • Scripting functionality that supports just about any scripting / programming language out there. I use Python.
Their costs
Free! MapServer is pretty much the grand-daddy of the open source GIS world (although, GRASS would certainly qualify for that title too).

Their pros & cons
  • A little difficult to install and get setup initially, although that is changing.
  • The vector outputs are a little lacking compared to the image outputs.
  • Label placement generally isn't as good as ArcGIS, but it isn't too bad, and it's getting better. There are lot's of options for label placement, but they tend to slow down the process. It's a bit of a trade off between speed and proper placement.
Ease of use
  • Like most any software, once you are familiar with it, it's pretty easy to use. The mapfile, which is a text document that makes the map, is pretty straightforward, and uses human readable syntax. It is also quite well documented.
  • Probably the most difficult part is making that first map. Getting it setup so that it works either as a cgi, or using some form of mapscript. Writing that first mapfile that looks like it should. Once you've managed that, the rest flows pretty easy. MapServer only makes the maps, the rest of the page, and map controls are up to the developer. There are some really good projects that take care of that nowadays though (OpenLayers comes to mind).
Examples of them being used
Sadly, I can't show you any of my MapServer projects. It's all internal only here. We are working towards a web mapping application that is available for the general public, but it isn't live yet. There are lots of sites out there using MapServer.




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