Top web mapping technologies for research

ESRI (examples)

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Google (examples)

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OpenLayers (examples)

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Leaflet (examples)

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MapBox (examples)

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CartoDB (examples)

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D3 (examples)

 

pros cons
ESRI
  • “been there, done that”
  • University licensing makes it affordable, and it comes with technical support
  • “Complete” solution, from desktop based spatial analysis to web deployment
  • Huge community of users in academia, government, and private industry
  • no competitor comes close to provided the wide scope of spatial analysis
  • user interface
  • template driven
  • little emphasis on design
  • tough learning curve
  • affordable while in school only
  • it doesn’t play well with other mapping technologies
Google
  • “been around the block”
  • huge community of users
  • lot’s of API’s to choose from
  • great documentation with lots of examples
  • free for small scale projects
  • family of google compatible API’s
  •  “bully on the block”
  • deprecation effect
  • it doesn’t play well with other mapping technologies
  • prohibitive cost for large scale projects
OpenLayers
  • it’s free and open source!
  • lot’s of examples
  • plays well with other mapping technologies
  • Complicated API
  • Documentation is sparse
Leaflet
  • “new kid on the block”
  • lightweight, mobile friendly
  • super easy to code
  • plays well with other mapping technologies
  • not many features
  • additional features available via plugins
MapBox
  • uhm, it’s not free
  • pricing based on storage and page hits (how can academics budget for that?)
CartoDB
  • “nerd on the block”
  • data is stored in a database
  • allows for SQL queries
  • torque!
D3
  • it’s free and open source!
  • it’s not just about maps
  • best javascript library for data visualizations
  • steeeeeep learning curve if you are not a programmer

The Future?

Cesium 3D + D3

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