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Maps & Geospatial: Web-Mapping Tools

For individuals seeking resources to explore and use to display spatial data using online mapping applications for research, projects, and teaching exercises applicable across disciplines

Introduction to Online Mapping

Many online mapping applications exist that enable a user to add their own data, use publicly-available user-created data, and publicly-available vendor created data. These sites enable users to use spatial data in a web-based platform that can be interactive and shareable with others. These sites and resources included focus on resources where a user inputs their own data and has the ability to configure online mapping settings.

Getting Started with Online Mapping

In determining the most suitable online mapping application to explore for the creation of an online map, it is important to consider how you plan to use the mapping application and the features of the mapping application that are important to you.

Below are features to consider when exploring online mapping applications and comments on each:

File Formats Supported

  • What spatial data formats are required to input in the application?

Symbology Options

  • What shading, symbol, data classification, and labeling options exist that are modifiable by the user?

Title options

  • What title and text characteristics are possible?

Description and Details (metadata)

  • What background, additional text, author creation information, author information, and process information are able to be displayed about the online map?

Basemap Options

  • What options exist for desired base maps? For instance, can the user choose a provider basemap, customize, and/or add a different basemap?


  • What is the ability of the application to sharine to others via a link, desired social media, and other online manners?


  • What search and filter options exist for the user? Are users able to define their own search of map layers?

Pop-up options

  • What fields are able to be displayed in pop-ups of icons, layers, and features? What are the limitations of these pop-ups? How can these pop-ups be modified?


  • How are legends viewable to the user?


  • Is the user able to print a map output? What print formats are available?


  • What capabilities exist to collaborate with others on the creation and design of the online mapping application?