Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for cartographers, geographers and GIS professionals. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am considering purchasing ArcGIS Online for a group of users who currently use about 5% of ArcGIS capabilities (ArcMap, simple map creation and information display) about 80% of the time. Primary attractive features of ArcGIS Online for them include drag-and-drop addition of layers, the ability to publish and share maps embedded in a browser, avoiding installation of Desktop software, and the ability to publish and use basemaps served from the cloud.

What are the other options and a few pros and cons?


locked by PolyGeo Mar 4 at 0:43

This question's answers are a collaborative effort: if you see something that can be improved, just edit the answer to improve it! No additional answers can be added here

oh ArcGIS online, well 3k is big money for me to use the basic feature. I don't buy that, I will try to look for alternative, such MangoMap, very simple and well I have all the basic feature for free. :-) – khousuylong Mar 25 '13 at 1:58
Depending on your needs, there is a free option of ArcGIS Online that covers all your needs (from what I can tell from above), but the amount of data you can have is pretty limited. I have a full license through work and am coming to appreciate the platform, especially when it comes to mobile, cross-platform access and field editing. – brichins Oct 8 '14 at 16:01
19,000 views, 38 upvotes on the question, 9 answers, the accepted answer has 45 upvotes, yet this question is 'closed'...??? – DPSSpatial Mar 3 at 22:42
@mapBaker Since you are questioning this being closed, presumably because of the community effort and interest that has gone into it, I have converted in to Community Wiki and applied a Wiki Lock instead. That way it can continue to be improved, voted on, and viewed. Since there is now a full blown Software Recommendations Stack Exchange available, I think that should be used for questions seeking software recommendations even when they are for GIS software. – PolyGeo Mar 4 at 0:49
up vote 43 down vote accepted

There are quite a few alternatives and I've actually written a short book on the subject entitled "Online GIS - Meet the Cloud Publication Platforms that Will Revolutionize our Industry" but that's a little outdated now.

Here's an updated summary:

MangoMap: Very easy to use, no coding required. Lots of tools and functionality available to make really polished map applications. Much more competitive pricing than ArcGIS Online organisational accounts.

GISCloud: Online alternative to traditional client/server GIS setup. Many features but hampered by a frustrating user interface.

MapBox: Making maps sexy again. Programmer focused. Great for maps that need to fit a brand and be able to scale for high traffic. Good fit for consumer internet sites.

CartoDB: Attractive UX and scales very well. Also lets you preserve the Google Maps experience for end users. Postgres + postgis database on the cloud with a set of API's on top of it to fetch/save and render data.

Disclosure: Original answer posted by Founder of MangoMaps and includes an edit by the CTO of CartoDB - these two products are described in this answer.

thanks for detailed answer !! – Sunil Mar 25 '13 at 4:54
There's also AmigoCloud ( by Ragi Yaser Burhum that deserves a mention. I don't know Ragi personally but he has contributed a lot of high quality answers to this site and his software is definitely worth a look. Please also note that the original author of this answer failed to disclose that he is the owner of one of the platforms he is recommending. – Conor Mar 4 at 1:24
Also note that the blurb about CartoDB was edited in by the CTO of CartoDB. Come on guys. – Conor Mar 4 at 1:35

I've had good luck using GeoCommons for more lightweight mapping.

The upside is that the service is free within a certain limit, and includes some fairly powerful analysis tools. I believe any mapping is free if using or creating open data, and while my organization did not end up paying for the service, the prices seemed reasonable.

I didn't realize until I visited today, though, that this service is now a part of esri, so their terms may have changed.

thanks, hadn't looked at that yet. isn't really an option as not all maps and info can be made public. – r4gt4g Mar 21 '13 at 18:44
It doesn't require public maps, I just think public maps don't count against your data/map limits. I've used it with only private groups in the past. I found that users with a low comfort level in GIS were able to design maps and perform analysis with only a little training. Again, though, we used it to a limited enough extent that we didn't run into any data caps. – ChrisHamby Mar 21 '13 at 21:26

OpenGeo Suite

You'll have similar web based map making & editing tools to Arcgis online with added flexibility.

The OpenGeo Suite Cloud Edition is a hosted version.

If you're comfortable running your own server you could also install the free and open source Community Edition.


We've had great luck with a product called Visual Fusion made by IDV solutions. Especially if your shop invests in SharePoint it's worth a look. The product has a variety of data connectors and can also can extend SharePoint content to the map. Drag / Drop of layers, built in security framework (w/SharePoint).


I have been working on a project for graveyards in Belgium and did some testing with them. I'm not continuing for the moment because the project is on hold.

There are still some bugs, but the staff is very cooperative in making it the way you want.

Pricing seems to be very competitive.

In the coming months I will do the same test project in ArcGIS to compare.


Another alternative is GeoNode, which has the benefit of serving as a metadata catalog also. We are using it for metadata catalog, layer and map display over the web and WMS server. It integrates PostGis, GeoServer and GeoExplorer.

I also heard about QGis Cloud. It looks nice but I've never used it to know if it suits your needs.


A number of options exist for creating and hosting your spatial content.

  1. Managed Content, mapbox, cartodb, giscloud and mangomap
    You will get a highly tuned data hosting platform
    These service will provide different levels for geospatial data hosting, so choose carefully.

  2. Self managed
    HostGIS, AcuGIS, MapServerpro, Cartoview
    Here you get much more control and features since you have access to the full platform software. You are not bound by mapping and usage. You will have to maintain the setup which is very easy for straight forward installations.


I just started using and love it. They're really easy to use and competitively priced too. I like that when I submitted a question they got back really quickly too.

I use boondockmaps as a complement to ArcGIS too. I kinda see it as the Sketch to my Photoshop, lol – thataustin Feb 17 at 19:31

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.