For our prototype mapping system try the Demo at

You can also see an overview of M4OPS on YouTube.

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Author Topic: Recommended mapping approaches  (Read 1912 times)


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Recommended mapping approaches
« on: 23 February 2016, 06:07:34 »
Mapping is such a complex, but very powerful, subject that it is not obvious how we should tackle it (indeed that is why this forum exists). Also different mapping needs may call for different solutions.

Hopefully we will be able to develop a unified approach in time which enables us to do almost all the mapping that we want to do as one-placers. Under Pros and Cons of different systems we list possibilitries for this unified system. My current favourite is the tailored (OSGEO) Open Source QGIS/GeoServer solution, and I will be trying it out over the coming months (2016). It would be good if some of our more adventurous and technical one-placers could try this too - or maybe at least QGIS.

However before this is determined and proven, or if you have only a limited requirement, it seems worthwhile to start listing the possibilities we would currently recommend a one-placer considers when tackling a particular mapping task. These are all, within limits, free.

Please feel free to comment, and add your own recommendations, so we can improve this list - it is very early days in our exploration of mapping for one-place studies. We are concentrating here on how maps can be shown on websites. Do remember the rules of rules of copyright.

If you do try any of these do give us some feedback to help others.

1) Images of maps
Where all you want is to show images of old maps, without any extra points or layers, then they can be displayed in the same way as any other images on your website. However it is best if you have some way that they can be enlarged and examined in detail (eg when you click). There are several examples of such maps by one-placers (How existing one-place study websites use maps - see points B and C). However do also remember the other sites with online maps, and if you are in the UK especially the wonderful National Library of Scotland website, and provide links to them.

2) Points on a map
Where you want to plot points and lines, perhaps places people have come from, or cemeteries where they are buried, then there are several ready technologies you can use. Most can also enable some showing of further information when you hover or click. There are several examples of such maps by one-placers (How existing one-place study websites use maps - see points E and F), using Google MyMaps, Bing Maps, CMS plugins and other technologies.

A recent Open service is MapHub which could turn out to be ideal for us (and many others). It is already almost as good as Google/Bing Maps, and well worth a look. (There was also MapJam who offered something similar, and although commercial the first 100,000 views per month are free which plenty for us. Closed 2017.)

3) More complex mapping
Where you want to develop a more complex map (but not one that involves time), consider Mapbox.

4) A "Map Story"
Where you want to show how something has changed over time, maybe how a village has grown, or families have moved, then a new free website called MapStory could be of interest. Wikimaps Expedition may also be something to consider.

5) In an "open" local authority area
Where your place is in an area covered by a local authority who have a planning system that is open to others to use, then you might find it interesting and useful to add data to their system, and this could also help with publicity.

6) Linking pictures to places
Where you want to just link images to locations in your place consider one of the Systems for placing images onto a map.

7) Develop a tour
Where you want to develop a tour, with images etc, consider Heganoo.

The complications start when you want:
  • to do all of these in the same context
  • to allow multiple layers on maps
  • them to change over time (but not just in the MapStory way)
  • to fade between different maps
  • show very exact locations eg of archaeological finds
  • show LIDAR images
  • provide a guided walk
  • etc
... but hopefully we will eventually make some progress towards being able to cope with these through a unified system.
« Last Edit: 6 January 2017, 10:58:11 by PeterC »


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Re: Recommended mapping approaches
« Reply #1 on: 9 May 2016, 18:21:55 »
I am exploring a particular unified solution that is looking very promising, and its working name is M4OPS.  This will take some months to develop, but would seem able to be enhanced to provide much of the functionality I have identified.

It is based on the National Library of Scotland (NLS) systems using OpenLayers 3. I have benefited greatly from their advice, software, maps and encouragement.

It is early days yet, but if you would like to be involved (perhaps working with me to create useful maps for your OPS) please do get in touch - either via this forum or directly via the help for M4OPS post.
« Last Edit: 28 May 2016, 13:15:34 by PeterC » is a Society for One-Place Studies project supported by Grassroots Giving from Skipton Building Society
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