I have a PostGIS database with all of my spatial layers, which have then been loaded into Geoserver, styled with SLD's and put into Layer Groups.

The layer preview function in Geoserver is a bit minimalist though; my aim is to have a nice pretty browser map that other people in my office can use for simple viewing and querying, with tiled basemaps overlaid with WMS layers that can be turned on and off.

This is where I'm stuck...what program do I need to create the proper professional web maps? Geoserver doesn't have the best map interface, from my understanding its more of a server that another web mapping client program reads from? I have pretty minimal scripting experience but I'm willing to learn Javascript or HTML or whatnot.

  • OpenLayers or Leaflet are good places to start... use the WMS services for pictures, and you can get at the same services using geoJSON - I can share as I'm working this out myself currently and so far so good... Mar 17, 2017 at 3:38
  • What are you trying to achieve (in user outcome terms, not technical or functional terms)?
    – BradHards
    Mar 17, 2017 at 4:09
  • Basically I'm trying to have a series of interactive maps available for the staff to use, so all they have to do is open a browser and select from a list of maps/workspace/projects.
    – fronk
    Mar 17, 2017 at 4:51

1 Answer 1


There are many options. They all require you to do some building and configuring, and possibly some coding. Three free and open source examples are:

  • Openlayers - a Javascript API - very powerful - requires coding in javascript and HTML
  • Leaflet - a Javascript API - marginally less powerful, marginally easier to use - requires coding in javascript and HTML
  • Mapfish - complete framework - requires substantial installation and configuration (based on Openlayers and other APIs)

All of these can use standards compliant web mapping services that your Geoserver can provide.

Geoserver's own previews use Openlayers with just a small subset of its functionality.

  • Thanks. So if I learn Openlayers, I'll have nice looking maps and won't need any other program for the end users to view it, right? How would they open the maps, through Geoserver or opening a html link?
    – fronk
    Mar 17, 2017 at 4:49
  • That's correct. You'd need to know a bit of HTML and a bit of Javascript, but there are many examples on the Openlayers page to get you started ( openlayers.org/en/latest/examples ) and the documentation is fairly good too ( openlayers.org/en/latest/apidoc ). The end users need never know about your Geoserver running at the back end. They only need to click on a link (or type in the URL) to your Openlayers web page. Mar 17, 2017 at 4:51
  • Great, that makes sense. Better start learning HTML then!
    – fronk
    Mar 17, 2017 at 4:53
  • Small note, GeoServer has been using OpenLayers 3 for a few releases now. Not the latest (v4 is out) but I would not qualify it as "very old". Mar 18, 2017 at 13:29
  • Thanks for the correction. It was still using 2 last time I checked so that's a big improvement. I'll update my post. Mar 18, 2017 at 21:06

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