I wanna start developing a map-based web site. At first I ordered a regulat Gps device just to test the site, later on I would like to use Iphone's gps and other cell devices. So I need something pretty generic.

I searched the web for map-based development framework and come up with too many of them : Geo server, Map server, Open layers, Geoext , Google maps's api , and more.

I'm not a seasoned web developr (more of a c++ kind of guy) so I need something pretty straightforward , though robust at the same time. Moreover, I need one which is free, and won't have licensing problem down the road.

At first I just need basic capabilities as displaying the gps data on my web site in real-time.

Can someone experienced recommend one ?


+1  A: 

I can recommend using the Google Maps API to render your maps in a browser. You can find my reasons in this answer.

The current version of the API has support for getting geo-location information for mobile devices.

+1  A: 

I use Bing Maps for mobile. Mainly because its fast, and provides much better looking maps, 3d models, and satellite views for the UK than Google maps does.

I have also had issues with Google changing their service to provide some enhancements and it breaking my app, where at least with the Bing API theres a bit more compatability considered for existing apps. Not that I dont like the Google maps, I do. Its a backup service for me..

I generate maps from both providers, Bing as the primary, Goole secondary... this means that if ones offline of not working, which happens, my users still get to use my app.

Heres a link to Bing Maps Dev on a WIndows Phone for example

+5  A: 


I'd go with OpenLayers - this is an opensource JavaScript client library, similar to the Google Maps API, or Bing API. However OpenLayers will free you of any licensing worries, or changing APIs as the source is available and can be modified - this is not the case with the Google/Bing/Yahoo APIs. You can however use the data from these services as layers in OpenLayers and drop them if they suddenly become filled with adverts or have commercial restrictions.

Have a look at examples to see if there is one you can use to make your first test application -

GeoExtJS is a collection of extra tools and widgets that work with OpenLayers, built on top of another JavaScript framework ExtJS - also open source. ExtJS is mainly used for building user interfaces - data entry forms, grids etc. using JavaScript, to display in the browser.

If you are looking for tree structures to switch layers on and off and other more advanced UI widgets then GeoExtJS is worth looking into.


If you are only displaying points then you can create dynamic KML or GeoJSON on your web server and reference this in OpenLayers. There are libraries in all languages that you can build on. Python has become a key languages in geospatial technologies, and has GeoJSON libraries you could script with.

GeoServer and MapServer are both server-side programs that allow you to serve out spatial data from databases with symbology, labelling etc. If you are having lots of different datasets then its worth spending time setting this up.

MapServer is written in C++ so it is probably easier for you to try this - however you may be able to get away without needing any specialist server side software, especially if your data consists of X,Y / Lon,Lat values that can be easily plotted as points.

+1  A: 

I'd take a look at Cloudmade. They have a number of API's, free options, paid options and use OpenStreetMap which for many places is one of the most accurate mapping solutions out there.

Ian Turner
+5  A: 

For the beginning (you said that you need to show gps position in a real time) I think that Google Maps are good option here. This solution has very simple API and community support is also an advantage here (I've never compared with something else but I have good experince with GMaps and its tutorials/resources). This is for the client side, for server side any web framework should do the work (I use Django and it also have dupport for some geo things - mentioned later in this answer).

You need probably to build application that follows this rules:

  1. Your GPS device sends data to your server(web application) periodically, data is stored in a db.
  2. Users use browser to display data with map (eg. Google Map) which updates position periodicaly on some scheduled interval (eg. ajax calls to the server for the most current position). Each time response is recieved map need to be updated.

I don't know if there are more specialized solutions for this case.

If you need to improve your application and add some features you need to consider some more sophisticated geo frameworks. I have heard some positive opinions on GeoDjango, mainly because it can be easily incorporated with Django(which is very easy web framework to learn and it has a lot of capabilities).

All technologies I mentioned here are free.

Lukasz Dziedzia
+1  A: 

free , open source:,

u can build ur own server as well using the same technolgogy:



Although its still in draft form, HTML5 will be supporting Geolocation API. Most major browsers and hand held devices should be supporting it in the near future and should make life a lot easier for developers who want a service independent solution. You would however still need a mapping service like google maps if you need to display locations.

function showMap(position) {
  // Show a map centered at (position.coords.latitude, position.coords.longitude)

// One-shot position request.


Its already supported in several major browsers:

  • Mozilla Firefox: supported in Firefox 3.5 and later versions.
  • Chrome: Supports thru Google Gears Geolocation API
  • Opera: Supported in nightly builds
  • Safari: Support is coming soon in the IPhone’s Safari browser.
  • Internet Explorer: experimental support available from IE8.
Tim Santeford