I am writing my thesis about WMS and WFS services. I would like to compare these two services.

Can you suggest factors on which I can do this comparison? (In my mind I have: functionality, fastest data transmission.) Maybe you can also advise me about any good literature where I can find appropriate information?

  • I hope you have already finished your thesis. I need to develop a web application and before starting development, I need to make a choice between using WMS and WFS. I need to compare the WFS and WMS services. It will be great if you can share your results which you have got after comparison in your thesis, if possible. Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 14:54
  • Finally I do something else than this comparison. I do a review of forest spatial data in the web.
    – com
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 20:23

1 Answer 1


You are really comparing chalk and cheese. WMS serves up raster tiles of data that have been created by a WMS server. This data can originally be vector or raster data and will have been drawn with style, but by the time it gets to your client it is just a raster image. WFS on the other hand, serves up vector data.

Good places to look are the OGC website which has the standards documents as well as overview documents for the various services. This would be a reference to put in your bibliography. MapServer and GeoServer have lots of documentation on the way each of them deals with WMS and WFS. And of course, there is Wikipedia which has short but generally accurate pages on both, but I suspect you would lose marks if you actually cited the site in your thesis. Best just use it to get an overview.

With something like these geospatial web services, it usually pays dividends if you actually install a server and play around with creating maps. There are plenty of tutorials out there, and there are lots of previous posts on stackexchange.

My undergrad thesis is on the use of web mapping for the archaeology industry, and I have a virtual machine (VBox running JeOS Ubuntu 10.10) that runs mapserver and tinyows that I can connect to like a "real" server, and test what I'm writing about.

  • 3
    +1. Nice combination of references, helpful advice, experience, and response to the question.
    – whuber
    Commented Apr 10, 2011 at 22:07

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