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I'm working on a map design that integrates many (around 300 separate map layers) datasets that need to be made available to users within the same map (just for viewing). I've looked at creating a table of contents with high level and sub categories but it just seems very clunky.

We are harvesting the datasets as web map services. The wms urls are stored in an oracle database where they are configured into 9 main categories to provide a top level summary table of contents. We also have an advanced table of contents (also configured in Oracle) which arranges the dataset layers within the main category list. The whole thing is becoming unmanageable and not at all user friendly but we still need to make all the datasets available.

Does anyone have any good guidelines/best practice/inspirational ways of dealing with large sets of data on a map?

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What software are you using? Are the maps just for viewing or do your users edit the maps in anyway (I think of a map as a finished product as opposed to a GIS environment). –  MappaGnosis Feb 25 at 11:34
    
Yes, the maps are just for viewing. We are harvesting the datasets as web map services. The wms urls are stored in an oracle database where they are configured into 9 main categories to provide a top level summary table of contents. We also have an advanced table of contents (also configured in Oracle) which arranges the dataset layers within the main category list. The whole thing is becoming unmanageable and not at all user friendly but we still need to make all the datasets avaiable. Any help is much appreciated. –  user2932466 Feb 25 at 11:57
    
Would you be able to use the edit button beneath your Question to revise it with additional details like these that come out in response to Comments, please? –  PolyGeo Feb 25 at 12:10
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Your problem is trying to present everything on one map - so make a number of themed maps. Since you are using WMS and the maps are just for viewing, I would be tempted to create a web-based interface and have layers in pre-defined logical groups across a series of maps (instead of a single map with hundreds of layers). A user would then select the map (and therefore the selection of layers available).

You could simplify some of this by using Geoserver to interface with your Oracle backend and make use of Geoserver's ability to reference layer-groups. So each layer-group represents selections of layers that logically go together.

You could then refine the interface to allow the users to select additional layers to add/remove to the map - thus giving them the flexibility to roll their own map. You could do this my drop down lists on the web-page with additional layers in logical groups.

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