|Version 19 (modified by jorix, 22 months ago)|
What is OpenLayers?
Mapping creates value by juxtaposing pieces of information, by layering bits visually. OpenLayers is an open source AJAX toolkit for combining data from any source. It breaks stovepipes and fosters free market economics. OpenLayers establishes a marketplace for mapping on the Web.
OpenLayers is an AJAX toolkit for freely combining geographic data from any source on the network. As open source code with a practical respect for standards, OpenLayers offers an open market for all geographic data. OpenLayers is agnostic of server-side technologies. It allows anyone to rapidly construct applications using layers from different providers of georeferenced data. For example, an OpenLayers application can display a set of vector data, such as points, on backdrop maps from MSN's Virtual Earth. Then, without changing even a single line of code, the user can choose to view that data on top another provider's backdrop maps.
This makes it easy for the user to compare and choose the data they want to see at any moment.
Developers can use OpenLayers to build sophisticated applications and commercial APIs. See examples of using OpenLayers.
Why do data providers like OpenLayers?
A data provider afraid of letting users easily choose between their maps and others would not like OpenLayers. Data providers confident in their data offering, cartographic styling, and licensing model should love OpenLayers for making it easier for people to consume their data. Using API keys, data providers can charge for access and levels of usage. As a framework, OpenLayers simply enables this free market.
If you are a data vendor thinking of offering an API to your data, then consider using OpenLayers to build that API. No need to re-write all this AJAX yourself. Leverage the open source community and invest in your core. If you have intellectual property in a mapping GUI, then use OpenLayers as a building block. OpenLayers is BSD licensed specifically so you can incorporate it in proprietary GUIs.
If you have a proprietary AJAX mapping API, your customers can wrap your API in an OpenLayers.Layer class. As proof, see this example of using OpenLayers to switching between several map service providers. Helping your users use OpenLayers broadens their capabilities and broadens your exposure to map consumers. The OpenLayers Team is happy to help you take advantage of this opportunity.
How to start
- Checkout the source code from svn.openlayers.org.
- Join the dev@… email list.
- Advertise your data here in this wiki.
A bit of history: Google Maps pioneered a new way of presenting maps on the Web. The reverse engineering of Gmap's originally closed AJAX by Philip Lindsay forced Google's hand by allowing anyone to use their maps. In response, Gmaps offered an API that raised the ante for anyone wanting to offer maps on the Web. Now, everyone must offer such a commodity AJAX mapping API.
Until OpenLayers, consumers were forced to choose between these stovepiped APIs. Proprietary APIs tie consumers' hands. OpenLayers fixes that by offering a clean, unified API to any backdrop map and any source of geographic data.
We look forward to seeing your beautiful data in use soon.
The OpenLayers Dev Team