GEOG 585
Open Web Mapping

Welcome to GEOG 585 - Open Web Mapping


Geography 585: Open Web Mapping is a 10-week online course that gives you experience with sharing geographic information on the Internet using free and open source software (FOSS) and open specifications. It is an elective course in Penn State's online geospatial education programs, including the Master of Geographic Information Systems. The lessons are freely visible online as open courseware; however, if you would like to receive official credit for the course and complete the lessons with instructor and peer feedback, you should register for the course through the Penn State World Campus.

The two main purposes of Geog 585 are to help you understand the importance of web services and to give you some experience making web maps with FOSS and open standards. You could certainly implement web services using proprietary software, too; however, the cost of a proprietary GIS server package makes FOSS an attractive area of study for basic web mapping tasks.

The purpose of Geog 585 is not to promote FOSS over proprietary software, or vice versa (you could find plenty of materials on the Internet debating this subject); however, Geog 585 should familiarize you with the capabilities and shortfalls of the current FOSS landscape to the point that you can make an informed decision about whether to use FOSS in your own web mapping tasks.

This course requires you to do some programming with JavaScript and the Leaflet API. You don't have to know anything about Leaflet yet, but it is required that you have:

  • enough formal experience with writing computer programs or scripts that you are comfortable identifying and using fundamental constructs such as variables, loops, decision structures, error handling, objects, and so forth. Geog 485 satisfies this prerequisite. Exceptions require equivalent programming experience and instructor approval;
  • enough experience with JavaScript that you are able to easily identify the above constructs when you see them in a piece of JavaScript code. Geog 863 satisfies this prerequisite, or you can do your own preparation using the W3Schools JavaScript tutorial;
  • enough experience with HTML and CSS that you are easily able to view and interpret the basic elements of page markup, such as the head, body, script tags, and so forth. Geog 863 satisfies this prerequisite, or you can do your own preparation using the W3Schools HTML tutorial.