I'd like to set up a webmap that clients can drop into their existing website. I'm thinking Geoserver, OpenLayers & GeoExt. It would be very simple slippy map kind of thing. Do I need Geoserver at all then? Just want to be able to use WMS/pan/zoom/turn layers on and off. If I ditch GeoServer, then do I need Apache?

And where would be the best place to host this? Could most hosting companies handle it if there was no Geoserver since OL & GeoExt are just JavaScript? I don't want to host it myself.

Anyone who could point me in the right direction for a checklist or roadmap to offer up simple webmaps is greatly appreciated. I'm looking for info on setting up the web side of it, since I'm fairly good with GIS already.

2 Answers 2


You will only need GeoServer if you want to serve your own layers. If you just want to display other peoples layers then any basic hosting service should be fine since you'll just want some html and javascript (as you say).

But as soon as you want your data (assuming you have more than a few red dots to show) then you'll want GeoServer (or MapServer or QGISServer) to produce the map imagery that your map will show. At that point your hosting requirements go up and you should probably look at Any low-cost Virtual Private Servers able to run GeoServer? and maybe How do I get started with GIS Servers on Amazon EC2?

  • 1
    Thanks, I definitely need to server my own layers. So if I were to go with something like a Skygone cloud Geoserver instance, I would use that to serve my own layers and create the maps, then put them in a website hosted somewhere else?
    – user2220
    Mar 8, 2011 at 19:34
  • I don't know anything about the Skygone offering but usually you'd serve the HTML pages from the same server as your map layers - no real reason why except to save having two servers.
    – Ian Turton
    Mar 8, 2011 at 19:42

It very much depends on what you need to be able to do with it. You could display a map of the world with shape/points on it with just a few lines of javascript and no server.

If you want to be able to draw on the map, save user data or serve up custom layers without transferring all of your data at once then you will need a [dynamic] server of some form.

For simple maps I would recommend Leaflet as it is very quick to set up and looks great.

For more complex things I'd recommend OpenGeo GeoServer as it has pretty much everything you will ever need but is a bit more hassle to set up.

You are correct that any web server will support GeoExt/OpenLayers/Leaflet as they are just javascript. I have yet to create a public mapping server, so I can't advise you there.

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.