Crater Lake National Park


Digital maps for the National Park Service

Planning a Web Map

Although NPMap makes it extremely easy to build and deploy web maps, it is still important to put some thought and planning into what you are trying to accomplish with your web map before moving forward with development. Good planning up front will ensure that your user's needs are met and you don't spend time going down the wrong development path.

Follow the steps on this page to develop a plan for your NPMap web map. When you are finished planning, use the links at the bottom of the page to get started with your development.

Simple or Advanced

You need to make the decision about which type of NPMap web map to build early on in the planning process, as the entire process hinges on this decision. If you are going to build a simple map, you'll need to utilize the NPMap library. If you are going to build an advanced map, you'll need to use the (NPS-only) admin console to build your web map.

Work your way through the flow chart below to figure out which type of NPMap web map will best meet your needs.

Other Considerations

Now that you know what type of NPMap web map you are going to build, you'll need to answer a few more questions.

1. What base API do I want to use in my web map?

Take a look at the library feature matrix on the base APIs support page, paying close attention to the "Usage by NPS" columns, to get more information about the different base APIs that are supported by the NPMap library. This is very important, as, at this point, there are some major differences in the level of feature support for the individual base APIs. Make sure you choose the one that meets all of your needs!

2. What layers do I want to include in my web map?

Next you'll need to decide which layer handler(s) you want to use in your web map. Each layer handler has its strengths and weaknesses, so use all the information available to make an informed decision.

General Guidance

  1. Remember that the most effective web maps are generally limited in scope and built with a specific purpose in mind. You should always avoid complexity. This means that you shouldn't add routing functionality to a map just because you can; you should, rather, add it only if it is absolutely necessary. When given a choice, always choose the path that eliminates/avoids complexity.
  2. You should always strive to make your map as performant as possible. This might mean compromising in one area or another or even "hacking" your data to make them more usable and performant in a web environment.

In general, keep in mind that web maps are not meant to be full-blown GIS applications.

Next Step

Now that you've documented the requirements for your map, you'll want to get started with development. In many cases, "development" entails simply editing a config file. Before you start working on your web map, however, you'll need to setup a development environment.