Taxonomy of Web Mapping Frameworks and Formats

Here’s an attempt to create a simple taxonomy of the currently active and popular web mapping frameworks available. This covers web mapping that delivers a consumer-navigable geographic “slippy” map of raster and/or vector tiles containing bespoke geographic data.

FRAMEWORKS
< < < EASY, costs, limited, quick
Flexible, Needs resources, time, HARD > > >
Ecosystems Hosted Wrappers Managed Wrappers Managed APIs Open Frameworks Spatial Servers Server Programming
Mapbox Studio


CARTO Builder


ESRI ArcGIS Online


Tableau

Google Fusion Tables


Google MyMaps
Google Maps Embed API


Google Static Maps API


OSM StaticMapLite
HERE Maps API for JavaScript


Google Maps JavaScript API


Microsoft Bing Maps V8 SDK
OpenLayers


Leaflet


D3 DataMaps


Leaflet for R/RStudio


RMaps
MapServer


GeoServer
R (ggplot)


Unfolding (Processing/Java)


Mapnik (C++/Python)
Capabilities/Requirements of the above Frameworks
Data analysis Data analysis
Remote server dependency Server with shell access required
Web space required
Scripting knowledge required Programming required

I will aim to update based on feedback and new discovery. This initial version is based on my own usages/experiences in the field, so it is quite possible there are some very obvious candidates I have missed.

Additionally (and with the some proviso as above) here’s a 2×2 table of file formats used in slippy and static web mapping, for vectors and rasters – the latter including attribute fields like UTF Grids. I am only including formats widely used in web mapping, rather than GIS in general.

DATA SPECIFICATIONS & FILE FORMATS
Static “WebGIS”
Raster OGC WMS


GIF, JPG, PNG, (Geo)TIFF
OGC WFS, GeoJSON, TopoJSON, KML, SVG


XML, SHP, JSON
Vector
TMS, WMTS, XYZ, UTFGrid


GIF, PNG, JSON
Mapbox Vector Tile Specification


JSON, PBF
Tiled “Slippy”
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2 thoughts on “Taxonomy of Web Mapping Frameworks and Formats

  1. Certainly needs KML as well as XMLin 2nd table IMHO. Web platforms could have Google Earth, maybe due a revamp soon? Google not saying of course

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