I'm developing a mobile app in which I need to show a map with custom layers on top of that( some plants area, some rivers highlighted ).

Currently I'm scratching my head trying to figure out how the GIS tools work together.

What I want is something similar to what google map provides, it provides a way to create some simple custom layers(marks, polygon, lines) on top of google map, and those custom layers can be displayed on top of google map.

But due to China's GFW, google map service is not generally available to everyone. So I turn to other solutions, then I found OSM(openstreetmap), together with a bunch of other stuff: leaflet, tile provider, mapnkit, openlayers, mapbox ...

It just confuses me, what is the tool that I can use to create my custom map layers. And how should I put them together to show a base map with my custom layers in a mobile web app?

  • Do you want to use online maps where map tiles (or vector map data) are loaded from a server when needed, or an offline based map solution where the whole actual map data and map style are stored on the device itself?
    – stephan75
    Oct 25, 2017 at 20:17
  • @stephan75, Basically I want to have an online map server which will serve the map tiles. And I want to create my custom layers on top of a basemap and those layers will also be served together as map tiles.
    – Aaron Shen
    Oct 26, 2017 at 3:12
  • In this case , next to openlayers.org, you should have a closer look at the example section at leafletjs.com how to display a base map with tiles, and have an overlay via own data.
    – stephan75
    Oct 26, 2017 at 3:50

2 Answers 2


I have only worked with open layers + geoserver so I can't really talk about anything else.

OL is only a js library that handles the visual aspect of web mapping. You will need some kind of backend that feeds your application with data. I suggest you research some WMS/WFS solutions like for example geoserver (http://geoserver.org/) You could also look into data formats like GeoJSON or KML.

If you want a quick example on how to create the OSM base layer in OL just read this OL quickstart guide: http://openlayers.org/en/latest/doc/quickstart.html

I strongly recommend you also check out the OL docs: http://openlayers.org/en/latest/apidoc/


Define your point, lines or polygon GIS VECTOR DATA overlays in QGIS DESKTOP save as GEOJSON or KML and configure those in your mobile app. You can also use GEOJSON.io to define your data

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.