Open Mapping workshop at UNIGIS

Notes for a workshop on using open data and open source for geographical applications at the 9th Swiss UNIGIS conference (program in German). If you are looking for a good way to start doing GIS with open source & open standards, this page should give you some ideas. See also my blog post for additional background.

The goal of the workshop is to use open GIS data (or your own data) to create a free web map with open tools. The links below will help us find our way to converting / exploring / processing / analysing / visualising any widely used open formats and standards. Below we suggest three possible starting points: GeoAdmin, OpenStreetMap and Mapbox, as well as a collection of Further Links of interest to GIS users and developers. Sources of open geodata are discussed elsewhere on this forum.


For a Swiss data focus, try from Swisstopo, based on OpenLayers 3. Developed and actively supported by the Federal Government, with 200 years of experience in creating some of the most admired maps in the world. Even though their degree of openness varies, they are happy to help advise on the best way to obtain and make use of their data, and the technologies behind the platform are fully open source.

Click on Advanced tools for WMS (service) and KML (file) import options. Both are limited in terms of bandwidth, so you may need to reduce the scope or scale of your query/map file before importing. Afterwards you can choose from several basemaps, interactively integrate any data from GeoAdmin’s catalog, and use drawing and measuring tools in your Web browser, before publishing the result as an embedded web map.


The world’s largest crowdsourced map is also a rich collection of datasources that varies in density and accuracy corresponding to the strength of its regional communities. In Switzerland, the OSM-CH association aims to make the maps in our part of the world as detailed and versatile as possible.

We can use the uMap tool to set up map layers, add and design points of interest, import data (geojson, gpx, kml, osm…), license, embed and share the resulting map. You can try uMap without registering here. But before you do that, check out this brief introduction to working with OpenStreetMap and create an account if you would like to join the community.

Hover over the icon underneath the zoom buttons (+ / -) and click Add layer then open the Remote data panel to add your data, which must be first uploaded to a public web server.


If visual flair and accessibility is important then check out Mapbox, an open source mapping platform (with commercial support) with excellent tools for custom designed maps based on CSS like carto stylesheets. To get started, open the Mapbox editor (registration not required), in which you can import a geojson, csv (containing latitude & longitude values), kml or gpx file.

Further links