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I'm a graphic designer who has been tasked with choosing a mapping platform for the manufacturing company I work for. One of my colleagues began our project by using a trial version of ArcGIS to develop some relatively simple maps - just a few shape layers using vectors to describe trade regions, zones associated with sales reps and the like - using light gray basemap with streets and political boundaries plus a population density map as a layer (from ESRI's map server). Although a fair amount of work has been done in ArcGIS, being able to use it commercially is going to incur a licensing fee we would prefer to avoid. Ultimately we'd like to have a customer facing map viewable online through our website. I'm thinking it would be cool to have an app featuring the map tied into a gps locator, so that customers could automatically be fed contact and product info particular to their location.

I've downloaded QGIS and played around with that a bit, making maps is fairly easy and straightforward, but integrating map projects into a website seems to be an involved affair compared to ArcGIS.

The other option I'm considering is Google Maps Engine, which seems to be a rather attractive choice - map making is fairly simple and straightforward, website integration should be well supported considering its Google, just waiting to hear back from Google on pricing/trials.

If anyone could give me some advice on which program would be right for my situation, it would be greatly appreciated. Thus far, the choices are: 1) Stay in ArcGIS and pay the license fee - which would be a fairly seamless transition from the trial run, but I'm concerned the program is way too comprehensive for our needs. 2) Go to QGIS and avoid fees, but pay more in time spent recreating vector layers, setting up an online browser for customers - and again I'm concerned this is possibly too much program for our needs. 3) Go to Google Maps Engine, assuming they get back to us.

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In theory you should be able to import the vector layers you created in ArcGIS into QGIS and go from there. That would be my choice for such a simple application. –  Nick Ochoski Jul 10 '13 at 20:37
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Key info: Do you need OpenSource Support (community support) or dedicated support/training? –  Mapperz Jul 10 '13 at 21:16
    
It seems like your ultimate goal (and real question) is to create a web map for your customers to interact with. If that is the case, check out many options in questions tagged with web-mapping. A couple to get you started, though, are: How to Start Web Mapping? and Alternatives to ArcGIS Online? –  RyanDalton Jul 10 '13 at 21:37

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I would suggest you give QGIS Server a shot. I've combined it with Leaflet and Stamen ready-made map tiles (based on OpenStreetmap) to create some really fast and simple maps in "Leaflet, Stamen Toner and QGIS Server – An Intro".

Installation of QGIS Server is not too involved (see tutorials for Win7 and Ubuntu). If you want to avoid it, you could look into hosted solutions such as QGIS Cloud. In both cases, you can prepare the map in QGIS Desktop and publish it to the web when you are happy with how it looks.

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