Take Control of Your Maps

by Paul Smith

30 Reader Comments

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  1. I have always been one of those that just accepted what Google gave me, I had no idea you could change the maps around so much for a better look for our own websites. Thanks for all the great tips and ideas and I look forward to reading more of them in coming posts.

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  2. My company has successfully been using GeoServer – with styled layer descriptors for thematic mapping (i.e. coloring area polygons according to a value – e.g. average income).

    A demo can be found here:http://preview.tinyurl.com/6zayys (the Norwegian Public Health Institute statistics site).

    While this article – and the discussed solutions/APIs – seem to focus on streets/navigation/point data, I haven’t found much information on thematic mapping via Javascript.

    If anyone have any insight in using Javascript or other lightweight solutions for thematic mapping – please share, because even though we are highly satisfied with the GeoServer wms/sld-solution, we would like to consider even more lightweight solutions for this functionality.

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  3. Hi,

    My friend and I want to make our own online map. But we have a problem about getting the background image for our map.
    We use GeoServer as our third stack defined in your article. And we also use shapefile as our geospatial data.

    But, is it already include the background image? Or do we need to use google or yahoo service to provide us with the image map?

    Please help us.

    Thank you

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  4. Thanks for a well-written article. Very informative and easy to read. We are conceptualizing an application that will involve map and spatial data. This is a great read. We might be tied with the maps API at the beginning, but it’s good to know alternatives.

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  5. I started playing with Mapstraction (http://www.mapstraction.com/) a couple of weeks ago.  Basically, it’s a library that provides you with the ability to shift mapping providers by abstracting common calls within the various mapping javascript libraries.  It supports a wide array of map providers, including google maps, but it does have a ways to go in order to support some of the more robust features.

    I also recently downloaded Processing (http://processing.org/).  While it’s more of a data visualization tool than a mapping library, it does provide a fairly quick turnaround time from concept to prototype.

    I’ve looked at other solutions over the years, including pulling data from Tiger, but the one fundamental issue that seems to creep up is that you have to use the right tool for the job.  Sometimes development speed is the primary issue.  Sometimes it’s look and feel.  Sometimes it’s compatibility with a data set.  Sometimes a desired end user interaction is the most important thing.

    The more webmasters support a variety of solutions, and the more they support OSS, the better all of the solutions (commercial and open source) will become.  If you can’t contribute code to open source, you can certainly contribute ideas, bug reports, enhancement requests, money, or resources.  Or at the very least a mention of the project and a link for your audience to follow.

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  6. I just want to say thanks!

    I’ve played around with Google Maps, but never done any serious map based development – but have plans for some in the future. I was planning to just use Google Maps for that, but now you’ve given me something to think about.

    I’m a big supporter of open source, but didn’t know there were any open source options for maps. Thanks.

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  7. I think this is a well written article and give to people a good idea about how things at the geographic information domain works but I also think that something very important like the role of OGC standards was missed. With those standards million people can now share geographic information and also can integrate their own applications and data with others complete different applications and sources of information in a consistent way. The OGC standards are easy to implement and anybody can develop for a very simple to very complex applications. I also think this article have to be completed with the description of the role of geographic searching engines based on metadata or geographic feature names systems (gazetteer).

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  8. Another great mapping resource is “Geocommons”:http://geocommons.com It has a lot of public geographic data that you can export as kml, or shapefiles.

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  9. I would love some advice about creating a funky yet user friendly map for my neighborhood business owners website www.gocebo.com, any one interested in a free ad for trade?

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  10. Your article has helped me get my head around GIS map stack.

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