was looking at http://geogratis.gc.ca/api/en/ and had a brief look all over the internets. Came away wondering whether there is any form of mainstream open API used for providing access to geospatial data and perhaps metadata?

There's WFS of course but organizations appear content to build their own APIs. I haven't had a deeper look at parents/similarities of methods provided; thought I'd ask here first and see if anyone can give provide a general insight into the current scene.

Edit. In an attempt to narrow it down: If I had a database with spatial data that I would like to make available via an API, for integration in custom client applications, I would be joining others as this scenario appears to be happening in parallell in several places today - my question is if there's a more or less "standard" set of methods(provided by an API as described) or would a client application need to speak four different languages in order to query four different datasources via their different APIs, typically, right now?

  • 1
    If you want standards (i.e something that's been through some formal standardization process) then look at the OGC standards, WMS, WFS, WCS, WPS, and CSW.
    – nmtoken
    Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 8:53
  • Hi, yes indeed. The related question, gis.stackexchange.com/questions/17144/… , was asked in 2011 and ended in "design your own API or use OGC standard", and that is perhaps the current state too.
    – David I
    Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 12:15

1 Answer 1


If you've not tried it yet, there is the data of OpenStreetMap. You can for example access those data with the API overpass turbo, which allows you to build your queries : https://overpass-turbo.eu/

You can check this list to know which tags you need to query : http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Map_Features

  • Thanks. Interesting reading. The Overpass API is only for OSM data, not available for other implementations(custom data sources), from what I gather? I was curious if there was a "mainstream" API and as such a popular syntax for querying sources of spatial data.
    – David I
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 18:15
  • Yes that's "only" for OSM data. But as it's a worldwide database, you may find interesting data whatever the subject of your project. I don't know if there is an API that grants access to a wider array of data than this one. Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 19:45
  • Thanks. Was more looking toward hosting an own API for an own set of data, rather than using an existing one tied to an existing datasource.
    – David I
    Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 12:25

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