I am considering purchasing ArcGIS Online for a group of users who currently use about 5% of ArcGIS capabilities (ArcMap, simple map creation and information display) about 80% of the time. Primary attractive features of ArcGIS Online for them include drag-and-drop addition of layers, the ability to publish and share maps embedded in a browser, avoiding installation of Desktop software, and the ability to publish and use basemaps served from the cloud.

What are the other options and a few pros and cons?


7 Answers 7


This question has been converted to Community Wiki and wiki locked because it is an example of a question that seeks a list of answers and appears to be popular enough to protect it from closure. It should be treated as a special case and should not be viewed as the type of question that is encouraged on this, or any Stack Exchange site, but if you wish to contribute more content to it then feel free to do so by editing this answer.

There are quite a few alternatives and I've actually written a short book on the subject entitled "Online GIS - Meet the Cloud Publication Platforms that Will Revolutionize our Industry" but that's a little outdated now.

Here's an updated summary:

MangoMap: Very easy to use, no coding required. Lots of tools and functionality available to make really polished map applications. Much more competitive pricing than ArcGIS Online organisational accounts.

GISCloud: Online alternative to traditional client/server GIS setup. Many features but hampered by a frustrating user interface.

MapBox: Making maps sexy again. Programmer focused. Great for maps that need to fit a brand and be able to scale for high traffic. Good fit for consumer internet sites.

CartoDB: Attractive UX and scales very well. Also lets you preserve the Google Maps experience for end users. Postgres + postgis database on the cloud with a set of API's on top of it to fetch/save and render data.

Disclosure: Original answer posted by Founder of MangoMaps and includes an edit by the CTO of CartoDB - these two products are described in this answer.

I've had good luck using GeoCommons for more lightweight mapping.

The upside is that the service is free within a certain limit, and includes some fairly powerful analysis tools. I believe any mapping is free if using or creating open data, and while my organization did not end up paying for the service, the prices seemed reasonable.

I didn't realize until I visited today, though, that this service is now a part of esri, so their terms may have changed.


OpenGeo Suite

edit -- as of 2021 this product doesn't appear to be available anymore. OpenGeo Suite became Boundless Suite at some point and now appears to be depricated. I've removed the dead links.

You'll have similar web based map making & editing tools to Arcgis online with added flexibility.

The OpenGeo Suite Cloud Edition is a hosted version.

If you're comfortable running your own server you could also install the free and open source Community Edition.

  • The links in this answer seem to be broken.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 11:22

Another alternative is GeoNode, which has the benefit of serving as a metadata catalog also. We are using it for metadata catalog, layer and map display over the web and WMS server. It integrates PostGis, GeoServer and GeoExplorer.

I also heard about QGis Cloud. It looks nice but I've never used it to know if it suits your needs.


We've had great luck with a product called Visual Fusion made by IDV solutions. Especially if your shop invests in SharePoint it's worth a look. The product has a variety of data connectors and can also can extend SharePoint content to the map. Drag / Drop of layers, built in security framework (w/SharePoint).


A number of options exist for creating and hosting your spatial content.

  1. Managed Content
    arcgis.com, mapbox, cartodb, giscloud and mangomap
    You will get a highly tuned data hosting platform
    These service will provide different levels for geospatial data hosting, so choose carefully.

  2. Self managed
    HostGIS, AcuGIS, MapServerpro, Cartoview
    Here you get much more control and features since you have access to the full platform software. You are not bound by mapping and usage. You will have to maintain the setup which is very easy for straight forward installations.


I just started using www.boondockmaps.com and love it. They're really easy to use and competitively priced too. I like that when I submitted a question they got back really quickly too.


The NextGIS Stack is alternative for ESRI (ArcGIS):

enter image description here

There are also another software integrated with this stack.

NextGIS Stack presentation on FOSS4G 2015.

Documentation is here.

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