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Build Maps With OpenGeo Suite 4.5 and Composer

With the release of OpenGeo Suite 4.5, we’re proud to introduce OpenGeo Suite Composer, a tool for creating, styling, and publishing maps that is currently available exclusively to our enterprise customers. By focusing on the user experience, Composer makes authoring and publishing maps to GeoServer vastly easier than ever before with a simpler styling syntax, real-time feedback, and convenience features such as code-completion and sample code. Getting started is quick and straightforward.

Map styling is easy with YSLD

YSLD example

A typical workflow in OpenGeo Suite Composer starts with creating a new map, adding layers to it, tweaking the sample code provided for the layers, and saving the map. The new YSLD styling syntax is shorter and easier to write and, while still remaining compliant with OGC standards, represents a significant departure from the SLD syntax that was the main method for styling data layers in OpenGeo Suite. Thanks to its terse notation, a YSLD code block for styling a data layer might be 12 lines whereas its exact SLD counterpart could easily be 40 or more lines.

See the map as you edit

This new syntax combined with the ability to view changes in real-time enables cartographers to improve the quality of their maps, thus speeding up the styling process. Taking a look at the Composer interface, shown in the video above, we can see that the map takes up a large portion of the interface and is zoomable (a), that the data layer list is accessible via a re-sizable column in the center (b), and that the code for the selected layer is editable on the right-hand side (c).

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Productivity boosters

To further enhance productivity, we’ve introduced a number of convenience features. For example, the ability to set zoom levels in the code for styles that change by zoom. In the above example, for the layer “natural,” zooms 7 and higher will display with the fill color, stroke color (i.e., outline color), and stroke width specified. Other zoom levels will not display that data layer. Previously, it was necessary to provide minimum and maximum zoom levels by source-scale denominator, and while that is still an option in YSLD, it can be difficult and verbose. Other features include:

  • Colors can be chosen via a color wheel interface or specified by color name (e.g., “green,” “blue”)
  • Any number of rules can be provided for a data layer
  • The order in which the code specifies things like filters and symbolizers is flexible
  • Code autocomplete is provided via keyboard shortcuts
  • See attributes for each data layer so they can be used in styling rules (e.g., features of type=park are green while type=hospital are pink)
  • Pan and zoom the map to determine which data layers should appear at which zoom levels

Less hassle means more designing

OpenGeo Suite Composer is not just an improved alternative to SLD, it is a significant interface overhaul that enables cartographers to make maps in a way that provides instant visual feedback and a much gentler learning curve. With Composer, a cartographer’s emphasis is primarily oriented toward the design of sophisticated cartographic compositions—a welcome sight.

A Composer-built map example

This example map, best viewed at zooms 4-10, was designed in OpenGeo Suite Composer, employing many Natural Earth datasets as well as a high-resolution land boundary built from OpenStreetMap polygons. Additionally, a high-resolution OpenStreetMap natural area dataset is visible in Canada at the higher zoom levels.

Try OpenGeo Suite Composer!

OpenGeo Suite Composer is available exclusively to our enterprise customers. Contact us to learn more or evaluate the tool.