I am trying to work out what mapping tools I would need to use to dynamically create Choropleth maps from our data.
I am working on a project where the back-end is a big database of statistics, and the front end is various dynamically-generated presentations, from graphs to maps.
For example: If we had population statistics, we would want to be able to display them a little like this: http://crschmidt.net/mapping/choropleth.html or this: http://indiemaps.com/blog/2012/04/introducing-openlayers-symbology/ (although the examples for that library aren't working in my browsers).
Those are entirely in-browser: they take a GeoJSON file and adds it as a layer to OpenLayers. But it looks doubtful how responsive that can be: you seem to end up with either a fairly simple map which doesn't withstand zooming to country level well or a very large GeoJSON file. So I wonder if it is necessary to have some kind of server (MapServer?) dynamically generating map views at the requisite level of detail?
The locations in a dataset could be every country in the world, every country in a continent (or club, like OECD), or sub-national administrative areas. Ideally, as a version 2 aim, we want to be able to zoom in and out from world to sub-national level, as the project is all about providing more context for data.
EDIT: the Thematic Mapping API (http://thematicmapping.org/api/choropleth.php) looks like a solution but requires a browser plugin or KML viewer. We are looking for an in-browser solution.
So: Is dynamically generating Choropleth maps a solved problem? Is there a standard approach or library? If not, can you suggest a sensible angle of attack? I'm new to GIS and still reading in.