Web Mapping Solutions with MapServer

MapServer is an open source development environment for building spatially enabled web applications. Originally developed by the University of Minnesota in cooperation with NASA, MapServer is now maintained by developers and programmers around the world. Some of the benefits of mapping applications developed with MapServer are:
  • No costly software or licensing fees
  • Real-time access to the latest GIS maps
  • Interactive user access to the GIS database
  • Greater distribution of mapping data across the organization, with access from any Internet
    enabled computer
  • Little or no user training required
  • Application built completely in code, allowing for unlimited customizations

Traditional pre-packaged GIS software systems have user friendly interfaces that simplify building browser based maps, but they require significant investments in proprietary
software and annual licensing fees. MapServer requires no investment in software, and its use is unrestricted. It is fast, flexible, and reliable. Maps are built in scripting languages
only. Since it is open source, programmers have access to the code, allowing customized features to be built into each application. MapServer works with many widely used imagery and spatial data formats, such as ESRI ArcSDE and Oracle Spatial.

MapServer applications provide a live link to the GIS
database, so the information on the map is always current. Any updates to the GIS are displayed on the map with the next log in or refresh. Users can view the attributes stored in the database for each feature through intuitive query and identify tools. Interactive MapServer web pages are the perfect tool for sharing spatial information with field
personnel, business partners, or citizens, and can be implemented on the web both publicly over the Internet
and within an organization as an Intranet application.

JJG has developed and tested several MapServer applications. Future applications can be served from the client site or from JJG servers, providing flexible options for hosting and maintenance.

MapServer applications allow for quick search and query tools. The following list is a sample of some of the tools available:

Search: Interactive search tool allows the user to input key attributes to locate known features, such as a
street name, address, or other key identifier.

Identify: Provides access to database attributes for selected feature(s).

Measure: Measure length or area by interactively
defining selection on the map.

Add Point: Add comments to selected areas to create map edits for printing.

Help: Help documents created for each MapServer application incorporate how-to for custom tools. JJG
is continuing to develop applications with additional functionality using this exciting new web mapping solution, and is now offering MapServer application development as a service for our clients.