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Quick Facts about the GEOINT MOOC

  • Instructor: Todd Bacastow
  • Course Structure: Online, 10-12 hours a week for 10 weeks
  • Overview: GEOG 863 is an elective in Penn State's Master of GIS program.  Prerequisite - GEOG 485 or equivalent programming experience. Until recent years, creating interactive online maps required expensive software and servers, a fact that undoubtedly limited the spread of such sites. Online mapping sites built with proprietary software sold by GIS vendors may have also suffered from the fact that their interfaces typically mimicked desktop GIS software interfaces, intimidating non-GIS users.

    Two developments have had a great influence on the spread of interactive maps on the Web: 1. the growth of open-source alternatives to proprietary web mapping software and 2. the publication of web mapping Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) by companies like Google and Esri that enable third-party developers (particularly those without a GIS background) to embed maps in their websites.

    Our Open Web Mapping course (GEOG 585) teaches students how to publish geographic data and maps through the use of open-source web mapping standards and software. Such a solution is best suited for situations that involve the sharing of large datasets (particularly those with line or polygon geometry) or that require a relatively advanced interface.

    This course teaches how to build mapping applications using two APIs (specifically, the Google Maps API and Esri's JavaScript API). Such applications are often referred to as mashups, because they bring together data from multiple sources to produce a new product. The advantages of building a map application via this route are that background layers are provided by the company who wrote the API and that the learning curve for using the APIs is less steep than learning how to build comparable applications with open web mapping software.

    By the end of this course, you will be able to build a fairly sophisticated mapping application that would require a lot more effort and cost to replicate through other means.