A Process for Keeping Pace with Evolving Web Mapping Technologies

  • Robert E. Roth
  • Richard G. Donohue
  • Carl M. Sack
  • Timothy R. Wallace
  • Tanya M. A. Buckingham
Keywords: web mapping, UI/UX design, open web standards, interactive cartography, cartographic education, D3, Leaflet, Google Maps API, OpenLayers


The current pace of technological innovation in web mapping offers new opportunities and creates new challenges for web cartographers. The continual development of new technological solutions produces a fundamental tension: the more flexible and expansive web mapping options become, the more difficult it is to maintain fluency in the teaching and application of these technologies. We addressed this tension by completing a three-stage, empirical process for understanding how best to learn and implement contemporary web mapping technologies. To narrow our investigation, we focused upon education at the university level, rather than a professional production environment, and upon open-source client-side web mapping technologies, rather than complementary server-side or cloud-based technologies. The process comprised three studies: (1) a competitive analysis study of contemporary web mapping technologies, (2) a needs-assessment survey of web map designers/developers regarding past experiences with these technologies, and (3) a diary study charting the implementation of a subset of potentially viable technologies, as identified through the first two studies. The process successfully achieved the practical goal of identifying a candidate set of web mapping technologies for teaching web mapping, and also revealed broader insights into web map design and education generally as well as ways to cope with evolving web mapping technologies.

How to Cite
Roth, R. E., Donohue, R. G., Sack, C. M., Wallace, T. R., & Buckingham, T. M. A. (2015). A Process for Keeping Pace with Evolving Web Mapping Technologies. Cartographic Perspectives, (78), 25-52. https://doi.org/10.14714/CP78.1273
Peer-Reviewed Articles