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I am a new to maps and related services for viewing it. My goal is to display maps on a website and provide several options to the user for interactivity, like overlaying layers on each other etc. GeoServer seems to the only and most promising option. There are certain things I am not able to understand completely.

How does WMS protocol fit with HTTP? When a browser sends a WMS request to GeoServer, is this request an HTTP request? And when the GeoServer WMS returns a map, is this again an HTTP response?

If both these request and response are HTTP, then why do we need OpenLayers?

I also want to add other common functionalities of a web site, like forms, to my web site . Do I need to use OpenLayers then. Also I am struggling to understand the set up of servers. Will there be a set up of both a web server and GeoServer service running simultaneously on my machine?

How does the flow of information happens then? My web server receives an HTTP request, it requests GeoServer in turn (using OpenLayers) and the GeoServer service returns back to Web Server.

Am I correct?

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    You do not need OpenLayers, Leaflet or anything. Clients are made for making it easier for you, they offer tools for zooming, panning, selecting layers and so on. Otherwise you must write your own client from the scratch. But finally it is only http requests and responses demo.opengeo.org/geoserver/… – user30184 Aug 25 '15 at 6:53
  • But i also want to add other common functionalities of a website , like forms , to my website . Do i need to use open layers then . Also i am struggling to understand the setup of servers . Will there be a setup of both a web server and Geoserver running simultaneously on my machine ?How does the flow of information happens then , ? My web server receives an http request , it requests geoserver in turn(using Openlayers) and the Geo server returns back to Web Server.Am i correct? – jps Aug 25 '15 at 7:03
  • usually the client requests geoserver WMS services through the openlayers javascript library directly, except if you want to request WFS data so if your application server and geoserver lie in different domains, only then you need to pass the requests through your application server (usually through a proxy) at the geoserver services – elasticrash Aug 26 '15 at 10:32
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How does WMS protocol fit with HTTP?

OGC Web Map Service (WMS) is an interface standard, that deals with how a web service, such as one provided by GeoServer software, or MapServer software, or ArcGIS software etc, can respond to HTTP requests to provide images of maps.

When a browser sends a full WMS request to GeoServer, is this request an HTTP request? And when GeoServer returns a map, is this again an HTTP response?

Note, that the OGC Web Map Service (WMS) interface standard doesn't limit itself to use of HTTP, for example you could use SOAP too, but generally, speaking WMS requests and response use HTTP, and with GeoServer software this is I think always the case.

If both these request and response are HTTP, then why do we need OpenLayers?

You don't need OpenLayers, but if you want people to view maps provided on request in a browser, (through an application on your web site) you will need to somehow have some code that understands the OGC Web Map Service (WMS) interface standard in order to construct the requests. You can write your own software to do this or you can reference libraries written by others such as OpenLayers.

If you just want to test requests to a WMS though you can just type in the request in your browser address bar.

Will there be a set up of both a web server and GeoServer running simultaneously on my machine

To have a web site providing maps you don't have to host any WMS on your own server, you can use WMS provided by any service provider, or you can separate your WMS service from your application server, or you can run them together.

  • A little late but this answer will be very helpful to anyone who is starting on maps. – jps Jan 23 '17 at 4:04

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