Re: [OpenMap Users] new user needs advice

From: Don Dietrick <>
Date: Fri, 6 Aug 2004 09:50:15 -0400

Hi Nav,

On Aug 4, 2004, at 1:46 PM, wrote:

> Folks:
> I am new to GIS and working on a project that has the following
> needs/features:
> 1) We have a "network" that consists of several subnets. Each subnet
> contains a number of devices deployed over a small urban area (say a
> few square miles at most)
> 2) We would like to show the network (nodes and connections) over
> different maps, say over street maps, or aerial photos.
> 3) We would also like to interact with the network: say clicking on a
> node causes some lines to highlight, shows details about the
> node/connections etc.
> 4) Print the network with the underlying layers shown.
> 5) Zoom/Pan/Query (find a particular node etc)
> 6) If the network device has a problem, we would like to take some
> action, for example, show the node as red.
> 7) Integrate the GIS app with other parts of the system which is
> browser/servlets/TomCat based.
> I have done some work and based on lats/longs of nodes, I can generate
> a geographically correct network map. I have layered this network on
> top
> of TIGETR street data and over TerraServer images, and it works fine.
> I have been using Global Mapper for the purpose.
> We are now to a point where we want more interaction with the network,
> instead of just showing it over layers.
> That is why I am thinking of OpenMap. But I have several concerns:
> 1) Is OpenMap stable?

OpenMap was first released as open source software in 1998, and
development continues. I'd consider it very stable.

> If I run into bugs, will there be any support?

We have a support page listing your options:

> How many people are working on it?

It depends on the contractual requirement we are under, but it varies
between 2-5 people at BBN.

> 2) How long do you think it might take to get to a good "demo" stage:
>    - Show the TIGER or other street maps.

You can display Shapefile TIGER data now, but the files are large and
performance might be sluggish. You'd probably want to load the files
into a spatial database and write a layer to display the roads from
there. There are example layers in the distribution that access a

>    - Show our network on top.
>    - Allow some interaction such as "clicking on a node allows me to
> highlight a few lines in the network"

I'd imagine this would be pretty simple, if you already have the
lat/lon coordinates of your network. You would write a layer extending
OMGraphicHandlerLayer, create OMGraphic reflecting the map objects of
your network. Mouse handing is built into the OMGraphicHandlerLayer.
There is a developer's guide at:

> 3) Can I print from OpenMap? Or may be just save the image and use
> other tools to print?

There is a menu item that lets you print from OpenMap. The next
version will actually have it integrated into the File Menu, but you
can add it yourself to the 4.6 distribution.

> 4) Currently I generate my network by using Java and writing to a
> "PNG" file that has transparency. It is probably better to generate a
> shape files because I might be able to add meta data about nodes and
> edges. Is that the way to go? I know OpenMap has classes to generate
> shape files.

Are you asking how you would make your network information persistant?
You could generate shape files to save the network data, or save the
information in a database, or even a flat file.

> Having looked at OpenMap and what others have done with it, it appears
> that my needs are quite modest.
> Should I use OpenMap or is it better to use/buy other tools/API/SDK?
> What are some other options? We don't mind paying for  development
> licenses, but would like to avoid any runtime fees.

OpenMap would work fine for you. You could also check out GeoTools and
MapServer for open-source options. MapInfo, ESRI's MapObjects are
available for purchase, but I don't know how much access you would have
to the API to write your own application with your desired look/feel.

Just as an aside, after you have the application working with your
layers, you can use those same components in an applet or web image

Hope this helps,


Don Dietrick,
BBN Technologies, Cambridge, MA

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Received on Fri Aug 06 2004 - 09:54:27 EDT

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