Web Mapping: An Introduction

ortho image with contours

The term “Web mapping” constitutes both the technology and art of sharing maps on the Internet.

The simplest Internet-based maps are static, such as images (i.e., jpegs or tiffs) that do not allow users to change the components, extent, or appearance of the map. These maps are the easiest and simplest to share because all that is required is placing the image on a Web server and telling others where to find it. At the opposite end of the spectrum are customizable, interactive Web-based maps. These maps are usually created with the use of modern hardware, complex software. In addition, these initiatives require human expertise for successful implementation.

The advantage of developing and implementing interactive maps is that they give the user the ability to customize the map to meet his own specific needs. Possible user interactions include adjusting the extent of the map by zooming in or out, turning on and off features displayed within the map, and locating specific areas such as by entering a ZIP code or a street address.