Some years ago, during the devolopment work for interactive geographic map project ‘EduGIS‘, we choose to use libray ‘Mapbuilder‘. The design of this library is heavily based on client side use of xml and xslt. At the time this seemed to be the best way to get around some very limited browser capabilities.
Implementations were incompatible and constantly changing and in july 2008, the community behind Mapbuilder announced end of life. Some minor changes are still being applied to support new browser versions, but major changes and completely new browsers such as Google’s Chrome are no longer supported.
These developments forced the EduGIS project to seriously look for alternatives. One obvious alternative would be GeoExt. However, since EduGIS requires some features that are currently not yet supported in GeoExt, this required a much deeper understanding of the ExtJs libray (now named Sencha) on which GeoExt is based. Before spending time on the not so freely licensed ExtJS library, a further investigation of other libraries was done.
An obvious alternative to ExtJs seemed to be the JQuery library. This library was not only being used by many interactive website developers, but it also seemed to be supporting most of the basic functions required by EduGIS. By cutting and pasting some existing code and doing some modifications here and there, a basically working example was created.
After this work, the possibilities of the JQuery library and its accompanying plugins proofed to be quite strong. However, it was also discovered that the amount of needed functionality and number of details to be handled is quite enormous. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to make a re-usable plugin so that more projects could benefit from this work? If this idea should work, then maybe other developers could become interested and add functionalities or discover problems and maybe even fix them?
So I started to do some reading on creating JQuery plugins and started development work on the go. The resulting plugin is tentatively called ‘jquery.mapwidget’. Two examples are made available with this article:
An alpha version of the future EduGIS website: http://research.geodan.nl/mapwidget/
A basic plugin test page that is stripped to the bare minimum for demonstrating and testing the capabilities of the plugin: http://research.geodan.nl/mapwidget/plugintest.html
From the header of jquery.mapwidget.js: