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I'm trying to figure out how to best get started on a web-mapping project, and am wondering about where I should host my maps from.

In terms of my skills, I'm quite good at desktop mapping and cartography, and I've got mediocre PHP, mySQL, HTML and CSS skills - but I want to create this really fantastic interactive web map site that will (in my dreams only, probably!) have some kind of base layer, then overlay my own township and section grid, and have possibly hundreds of thousands of sample points. Each of these points will have data attached, and when clicked, will display it's info in a pane, and then provide the ability for registered users to comment on and discuss it. I'd like to also get some kind of feedback (thumbs up/down) ability for each user comment. Maybe I'm too optimistic, but this is what I'd like to have in the end.

My reading tells me I need a stack containing something like postGIS, MapServer, and OpenLayers. But I use inmotion for my current web development and learning, which I really like, so rather than waste time figuring out how to install all of these packages there (if I even can), is it better to go with an outfit like, which has this stuff set up already and specializes in GIS hosting? The price of their hosting packages is not a problem, and I just want to get pointed in the right direction to start with. I guess that my short question is: does anyone here have an opinion on what is like? Even Or would a generic hosting service usually be able to handle the stack that I mentioned, and efectively be able to handle what I picture as being a large amount of GIS data?

Also, if anyone has any comments on how to most efficiently tackle a project like this, then please feel free to set me straight.

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

I've never tried either or so I'd be interested to hear any experiences there. Setting up a cloud server on Amazon, Rackspace et al using the Opengeo Suite is pretty straightforward but to get the result you're after you'd want to be familiar with using javascript libraries. I'd suggest also looking at Geocommons who made their enterprise functionality available for free just the other day. GIS Cloud also provide a dead simple way to get some pretty nice web mapping up and running pretty quickly.

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I'd also suggest playing first with free account on Also make sure to check web mapping possibilities offered now by Goole Fusion tables. – radek Jun 20 '11 at 9:40
Thanks for the help Phil and Radek. I'm leaning towards rackspace, and will see what I can dig up on the two hosting services I mentioned. Thanks again. – Jim M Jun 20 '11 at 12:57
Don't use GIS Cloud if you need to use the API. It's terrible and buggy. – Travis Webb Jul 30 '12 at 13:33

I might look at a service like SimpleGEO. They provided a cloud-based Geospatial database and rest end points to access them. They also come with some pre-stored data (intersection, points of interest, weather) that can add immediate value to your maps.

If you are looking to just store geo-resolved data, simplegeo may be able to fit your needs.

Full Disclosure: I use both Simplegeo and Rackspace Cloud Servers for my various mapping needs

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Thanks J Jones - I'll check them out. – Jim M Jun 21 '11 at 13:31
as of 2015, SimpleGEO does not exist anymore – culebrón Oct 28 '15 at 1:04

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