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Web Mapping Illustrated: Using Open Source GIS Toolkits Paperback – Illustrated, 27 Jun 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 372 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (27 Jun. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596008651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596008659
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.1 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,210,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


O'Reilly's come out with a book that will be a 'must have' if this is an interest of yours... -- Thomas

From the Publisher

Developers who want to publish maps on the web often discover that commercial tools cost too much and hunting down the free tools scattered across Internet can use up too much of your time and resources. Web Mapping Illustrated shows you how to create maps, even interactive maps, with free tools, including MapServer, OpenEV, GDAL/OGR, and PostGIS. It also explains how to find, collect, understand, use, and share mapping data, both over the traditional Web and using OGC-standard services like WFS and WMS.

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Since 2007, many things have changed in the world of geography. But many things in this book are fine. Still, old!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 19 reviews
40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Wither Web Mapping? 2 Aug. 2005
By Simon G. Greener - Published on
Format: Paperback
I found this book a "tough call" when I came to writing a review.

I have to admit to not being a big fan of a lot of the technology showcased this book (PostGIS aside). I have professional reasons for saying this that do not concern us in this review but should be admitted up front.

Firstly I want to be clear that we should thank Tyler because he has done a very good job in weaving a consistent and useful thread through all the technologies in the book.

However, I had to think about why he chose these particular technologies and why the book was laid out the way it is because it was not initially clear to me what relevance a lot of them had to the book's title - Web Mapping. To me the title implied a richer potential content wrt "web mapping" per se, so that when I opened the book I was surprised to see that quite a bit of it was really about GIS basics such that a title more like "Getting started with MapServer" or "MapServer for GIS Dummies" (not an O'Reilly title I grant) might have been more appropriate!

I also don't know if this book accurately targets its audience. If you expect a real treatise on the University of Minnesota's MapServer then this book will not fill all your needs. If you want to see a set of open source technologies put together in a logical and coherent way so that you can start on understanding Web Mapping from one view point only then this book is useful.

On to the book itself.

He has also highlighted some important features of some of the technologies in a way that good training courses often do. The lights definitely go on and you will hear yourself say: "Ahh, so that's what this does!". That is what this book did for me across a number of technologies: in particular the OGR and GDAL command line tools. (Thanks, Tyler, for this alone.) He also does what all good trainers should do: he clearly demonstrated software functionality via concrete examples. It is my view that, except for university, most people learn by doing and this book works well in supporting those who find manuals and technical documents opaque when trying to assess software usefulness.

I really wasn't sure if the technical detail with respect to things like command line actions for installing, compiling and installing some software was that useful: I admit to skim reading this stuff. Is this Web Mapping for the uninitiated gun programmer? Or is this something that less technical geospatial professionals whose only world is that of the mainstream "pay per license" software products (on Windows) would get excited over? Unless command line computing is coming back and becoming mainstream again (and I am of that vintage), most people today expect the initial heavy lifting decisions to have been done for them so they can start "value adding" immediately. I think all the configuration decision making that is involved with open source technologies is still a big put off: I know it is to me, and I have 20+ years in the IT/GIS industry!

I also thought that the technologies described in the book showed what I can only describe as a North American (perhaps even Canadian) bias in the choice of technologies. Look, this is a bit of a quibble because I really can understand a lot of the choices precisely because the main distribution of the tools in the book (except PostGIS) is via FWTools which contains OpenEV, GDAL, MapServer & PROJ.4: all core technologies to the book. Yet I really don't think it is all that obvious. (I had to double check when writing this review.) Even so, my view is that more coverage should have been given to other open source technologies rather than a particular group. So, for example, why not cover the really big database of the open source community: MySQL (not just PostGIS)? And this oversight is strange given that the book mentions OGR/GDAL support for Oracle Spatial and ArcSDE which are of little interest (in one sense) to the open source people and are not accessible unless the company you work for has them. Also, why doesn't the book give more airtime to the excellent GeoServer WFS (and WMS) than just MapServer's read-only WFS? Why not hightlight the actively developed European managed Deegree WMS/WFS? Sure, MapServer has both WMS/WFS capabilities so let's concentrate on one rather than confuse people with others (just reference them instead - yet Deegree doesn't even get a mention in the book).

But all this musing gets me back to the title. Is it really "Web Mapping Illustrated"? Not really. Perhaps it should have been called "Getting started with MapServer". Too long? "FWTools Illustrated". Certainly not eye catching in terms of elucidating interest from browsers of bookshops and Amazon.

All in all, a good book and very useful. It certainly helped me and because of it I have decided to use some of the supporting technologies in it in my day job. Well done Tyler.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Indispensable reference on mapping 1 Dec. 2005
By Ben Rothke - Published on
Format: Paperback
With revolutionary technology, Google Earth now lets computer users zoom through space to specific sites all over the world. Mapping is also making great strides in the law enforcement world, where geographic information systems (GIS) have been replacing pin maps. Systems such as New York City's COMPSTAT have been highly successful in mapping and depicting virtually any combination of crime/arrest locations, crime hot spots, and other information in real time.

While not specifically written for law enforcement, Web Mapping Illustrated is a valuable guide for those who are interested in using maps and other GIS tools. The Internet hosts many open-source mapping tools, making the creation and publishing of online maps much easier and more effective.

Web Mapping Illustrated is written for those wishing to avoid expensive commercial software mapping systems and instead use open-source and other free tools. The book details the use of free mapping software and tools such as MapServer, GDAL, OpenEV, and PostGIS. It also explains how to find, collect, understand, use, and share various mapping data sources.

All 14 chapters are well written and organized, progressing from the basics to the publication of sophisticated interactive Web maps. Fittingly, the book makes effective use of numerous full-color maps and software screenshots
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
An excellent work by both the author and O'Reilly... 22 July 2005
By Thomas Duff - Published on
Format: Paperback
The ability to generate maps from your data has long been something pretty much restricted to companies with deep pockets. But Google seems to have sparked an interest in mapping software, and there are plenty of open source tools out there that will allow you to create your own Geographic Information Systems (GIS). O'Reilly's come out with a book that will be a "must have" if this is an interest of yours... Web Mapping Illustrated by Tyler Mitchell.

Contents: Introduction to Digital Mapping; Digital Mapping Tasks and Tools; Converting and Viewing Maps; Installing MapServer; Acquiring Map Data; Analyzing Map Data; Converting Map Data; Visualizing Mapping Data in a Desktop Program; Create and Edit Personal Map Data; Creating Static Maps; Publishing Interactive Maps on the Web; Accessing Maps Through Web Services; Managing a Spatial Database; Custom Programming with MapServer's MapScript; A Brief Introduction to Map Projections; MapServer Reference Guide for Vector Data Access; Index

There are a number of things I like about this book. For one, he shows how you can build systems that rival expensive GIS packages using ordinary open source software. His main focus is on MapServer, along with any other software out there that fills any necessary gaps. Using this book, you should be able to get MapServer up and running in your environment. The next thing that's good is that you can start to gain the understanding of the terminology of mapping technology. Above the normal techno-babble needed in order to work with any software system, mapping systems have their own jargon. Web Mapping Illustrated helps to educate you on that jargon within the context of working with the software. Finally, a departure from the normal O'Reilly "animal cover" books... This one's in color! Printing this in black and white would have ended up losing a lot of meaning and information in the examples. Seeing a hi-res full-color map of the Okanagan Mountain Park fire of a few years back really grabs your attention and makes you realize just what level of power you have available to you...

Even if you're using a commercial GIS in your job, you owe it to yourself to get a copy of this book and expand your horizons a bit. Or even map them out while you're at it... :-)
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Get a quick start! 27 Jun. 2005
By Jeroen Ticheler - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is a must have if you think of using open source applications for web mapping! But you would also want to read it if you are interested in performing some complex satellite image conversions for instance. The book provides some nice introductions to essential software for web mapping, some of which I never discovered myself before but will definitely help me in being more productive. It will also guide you through the installation process, maybe the highest hurdle for many to get started. You will discover you didn't know so much about the power of the open source software used in the book!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Good overview of web mapping 17 Feb. 2007
By Jaime Silvela - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is readable, nice to look at, and does a good job of pulling a lot of information into one place. Finding information about the different GIS packages in the web is a challenge. If you don't know GIS already, like me, you're lost. This book helped me find my bearings, and in no time I was able to take shapefiles, do processing on them, and display the results in a web page dynamically.

The problem with this book is that it's fairly shallow. It will give you a couple of basic examples of how to use some pieces of software, but for anything more complicated, you have to look elsewhere. There is frustratingly little information on mapscript, but, overall, I'd say the book fulfills its role.
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