How to Use the WebMap

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One of the more common widgets within an OSF installation is the WebMap component, based in part on Google Maps. This widget is generally what appears when you choose a Map link within an OSF portal.

WebMap Overview

There is considerable functionality in this widget, not all immediately obvious when you first view it. Here is an example for the WebMap when it first comes up, this time highlighting the Beaumont neighborhood (for our example):

Starting WebMap Screen

You'll note that the pre-selected items are highlighted on the map and in the records listing (lower left below map).

The basic layout of the map has its main search options at the top, followed by the map itself and then two panels underneath:

Main Display Panels

The left-hand panel underneath the map presents the results listing. The right-hand panel presents the various filter options by which these results are generated.

The layout below shows the key controls available on the WebMap:

Main Map Controls

You can go directly to the neighborhood page by clicking the upper right icon. This area often hows a help button or other guide. The search box below that enables you to search for any available data in the system. If there is information that can be mapped AND which occurs within the viewport of the current map size, those results will appear as one of three geographic feature types on the map:

  • Markers, often with differing icons for specific points of interest
  • Polylines, such as highways or bus routes, or
  • Polygons, which enclose specific regions on the map through a series of drawn points in a closed area.

At the map's right is the standard map control that allows you to scroll the map area or zoom. Like regular Google maps, you can zoom (+ or - keys, or middle wheel on mouse) or navigate (arrow direction keys, or left mouse down and move) the map.

Current records are shown below the map. Specifric records may be selected with its checkbox; this keeps them persistent on the map and in the record listing no matter what the active filter conditions may be. (You may also see a little drawing icon Update record, which enables privileged users to edit the specific result). You can see in this case that the selected record also corresponds to a region (polygon) shape on the map.

WebMap Views, Layers and Layouts

In the map area itself, it is possible to also get different map views by selecting one of the upper right choices. In this case, we can see a satellite view (or "layer"):

Satellite Map Layer

Or, we can choose to see a terrain layer:

Terrain Map Layer

Or there may optionally be other layers or views available in this same section.

Another option that appears on the map is the ability to get a street view of the map. That is done by grabbing the person icon at the map left and dragging it to where you are interested within the map viewport. That also causes the street portion to be highlighted, with street view photos displayed if they exist for that location:

Street View Control

By clicking the person icon again, you then shift into walking view:

Walking View of the Street View Control

Via the mouse, you can now navigate up and down these streets and change perspective to get a visual feel for the area.

Another option you may encounter is the multi-map view of the WebMap. In this case, the map viewing area expands to include three sub-maps under the main map area. Each sub-map is color-coded and shown as a rectangle on the main map. These rectangles can be moved on the main map, in which case their sub-map displays also move:

Multi-map Layout

You must re-size using the sub-map (which then causes the rectangle size to change on the main map). You may also pan the sub-maps (which then causes the rectangle to move on the main map). The results list at the lower left is determined by which of the three sub-maps is selected (as indicated by the heavier bottom border).

Searching and Filter Selections

There are two ways to get filter selection details for your current map: Show All Records or Search.

NOTE: for all data and attributes as described below, only what is visible on the current map view is shown under counts or records. You can try this yourself by selecting some items and then seeing how counts and records change as you move the map around.

In the first case, we pick the Show All Records option at the bottom of the map view, which then brings up the detailed filter selections in the lower-right panel:

Filter Selections with Show All Records

Here are some tips for using the left-hand records listing:

  • If there are more than 10 records, pagination appears at the bottom of the listing
  • Each record is denoted by an icon for the kind of thing it is (bus stops v schools v golf courses, for example)
  • If we mouse over a given record in the listing, its marker icon on the map bounces to show where it resides
  • To the right of each record listing, the checkbox indicates whether you want the record to be maintained persistently. If you check it, the icon on the map changes color, the record is promoted to the top of the list where it becomes sticky and is given an alphabetic sequence. Unchecking this box undoes all of these changes
  • To the right of each record listing is also the view record View raw attributes for the record icon; clicking it shows the raw attribute data for that record.

The records that actually appear on this listing are based on the records scope or Search (see below) conditions, as altered by the filter settings on the right-hand listing under the WebMap. For example, if we now remove the neighbourhood record as being persistent and Show included records we now get items across the entire map viewport:

Filter Selections with Show All Records

Search works in a similar fashion, in that it invokes the filter display with the same left- and right-hand listings appear under the WebMap, only now only for those records that met the search conditions. (The allowable search syntax is the same as is described under the How to Search guide.) Here is the result of a search, in this case for "school":

Working with the Filter Selections

As shown above, the right-hand panel is split into three sections: Sources (or datasets), Kinds (that is, similar types of things, such as bus stops v schools v golf courses), and Attributes (that is, characteristics for these various types of things).

Sources and Kinds are selected via checkbox. (The default state when none are checked is to show all.) As more of these items are selected, the records listing in the left-hand panel gets smaller. Also, the counts of available items [as shown by the (XX) number at the end of each item] are also changed as filters are added or subtracted by adding or removing checkboxes.

Applying filters to Attributes works a little differently. Attributes filters are selected by selecting the magnifier plus Filter by attribute icon, which then brings up a filter selection at the top of the listing underneath the Attributes header.

The specific values and their counts (for the current selection population) is then shown; you may pick one or more items. Once done, you may pick another attribute to add to the filter list, and continue the filtering process.

Saving and Sharing Your Filters

These filters all work in conjunction with each other. If you like a particular set of selections and want to view them later, then you may Save for later use. See further the How to Save Filter Selections document.