A few months back MangoMap CEO Chris Brown asked on one (or more, don't recall) LinkedIn fora if people would read a free book about online GIS and map publishing platforms. They said yes, so he wrote one titled Online GIS: Meet the Cloud Publication Platforms that Will Revolutionize our Industry (free download, registration required). The publication is more than 10,000 words (about 50 pages in PDF). Cleverly, Mr. Brown summarizes the whole document, a look at six online platforms, in a few sentences:
ArcGIS Online: Comprehensive feature list. Jack of all trades, master of none. Confusing pricing. Card carrying ESRI users will love it.
CartoDB: A GIS programmers wet dream. The power of PostGIS and Mapnik but none of the setup headache, all wrapped in attractive packaging.
CloudGIS: Online alternative to traditional client/server GIS setup. Many features but hampered by a frustrating user interface.
GeoCommons: The place to share your data and use the data of others. No coding required. Slick UI, great visualisation tools.
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MangoMap: The quickest way for GIS users to publish web maps. No coding required. Lots of map features, slick UI that’s geared towards simplicity.
MapBox: Making maps sexy again. Programmer focused. Great for maps that need to fit a brand and be able to scale for high traffic.
There are two things to bear in mind when reading the book. First, tech platforms and features change in real time and any publication (this one from 2012) is but a snapshot in time. Second, the author is the CEO of one of the company that publishes one of the platforms covered. Brown is unapologetic about how he treats his own platform. The section on MangoMap is a bit more marketing-y and includes a discussion of the platform's history and planned enhancements. With those caveats, the structure used to compare the products may be valuable. For each one he provides:
- Standout features
- Limitation Data Import
- Administration Tools
- Map Tools
I applaud Mr. Brown for producing some clever marketing for his brand while creating something of value for the GIS community.
To improve the next edition, I suggest Mr. Brown look for a copyeditor. The inclusion of misspelled terms like "ESRI" (correctly: Esri) and "Open Street Map" (correctly: OpenStreetMap) lessens the authority of the publication.