10 open source projects every JavaScript geo dev should know about

Regardless of whether you’re a hacker or a well-seasoned developer, writing JavaScript geo apps from scratch takes some serious time, skill, and effort.  Thankfully there’s a few places you can go to get a head start, like the esri.github.io site.  There you’ll find over 170 geo projects on GitHub that are ready to go.  Most of the projects use the ArcGIS APIs and services to do something “geo”, but many integrate with other technologies as well, and others are pure JavaScript solutions.  The other cool thing is that they are all on GitHub, so if there’s a feature missing, it’s easy to make a pull request or log an issue to get it added!

Here are 10 projects that should help you get your JavaScript mapping apps out the door faster.


1.     quickstart-map-js – Looking for some short JavaScript examples to do things like add points to a map, change basemaps, find places, get directions or perform spatial analyses? Well, look no further. This project illustrates how to accomplish a bunch of common mapping tasks with the ArcGIS for Javascript API and ArcGIS Online services with minimal code.  See live demos here.  If you are an iOS, Android or Phonegap developer, there are other quick starts too!

2.     map-tour-storytelling-template-js – Do you like to tell stories with maps and pictures?  Well, this repo is for you.  If you just want to take it for test-drive first, just go use the hosted templates to build the app and let ArcGIS Online host it.  If you want to make some deeper customizations, fork and clone the code to build a custom version of the template viewer.  Either way, you still get a fully responsive app that lets you sync geographic points with images of your choice. Here’s a live example and a few other storytelling templates that you might want to check out.

3.     esri-leaflet – If you like Leaflet, then you’ll love esri-leaflet!  This project provides the plumbing to consume ArcGIS Online basemaps, services and your own features services using the Leaflet JS framework.  If you are into geocoding, you should also check out the esri-leaflet-geocoder control.  To see some examples of how it works, be sure to check out the live demos.

4.     arcgis-digit-geocoder-js – Every wonder how to build a context sensitive geo search widget?  A lot of people don’t know this, but all of the source for the ArcGIS JavaScript Geocoder widget is available on GitHub.  Behind the scenes it uses the ArcGIS World Geocoding Service and it auto-displays search results as you type.  Fork and clone this repo to create custom versions of the geosearch tool.

5.     bootstrap-map-js – Looking for a fast way to build a nice looking, responsive website with a map?  Well look no further.  This project shows you how to use the new Bootstrap 3.0 framework to build a killer website with a fully responsive map.  Just add two files (bootstrapmap.js and a bootstrapmap.css) and your maps will magically recenter, resize and realign and work in the the Bootstrap components.  The map pop-ups are also uber-responsive too.  Check out the live demos here.  If you are using Bootstrap 2.x and you want to stick with just Dojo, you might want to check this out.

6.     terraformer – Need to convert GeoJSON or WKT to ArcGIS JSON or vice versa, do some light-weight geo-spatial operations (e.g. point in polygon), or build a custom NodeJS data store?   Well look no further, terraformer is here to save the day. Save yourself some time by integrating this geo-library into your client-side JavaScript apps or in your NodeJS apps.  Be sure to check out this super cool website with all the library doc and you’ll find a few live samples here.

7.     ago-assistant – So many people don’t know about this little gem.  Do you have an ArcGIS Online account and you need to transfer maps, feature services or other items to another account?  Well no longer do you have to export and re-import each item.  Use this tool to copy items between any two ArcGIS Online accounts.  As a bonus it also works for Portal for ArcGIS.  Missing a feature?  Go ahead and make a pull request to get it in.  Take it for a test drive here.

8.     sencha-touch-map-checkin-js – Want to build a Foursquare-like checkin app on GIS steroids?  This project illustrates how to use Sencha Touch, the ArcGIS for JavaScript API and ArcGIS Online to get it done.  ArcGIS Online feature and network services let users find pizza joints within 3, 5, and 10 minutes away and then navigate their way to stores.  All check-ins/check-outs are stored so that pizza store managers can analyze the data at a later date.  Here’s the live app.

9.     koop – Need some help getting your GeoJSON services into ArcGIS apps?  This provider makes it super easy to build a NodeJS app to access your own services and expose them as ArcGIS REST Feature Services so that they can be accessed by other ArcGIS apps and APIs.  Most of the plumbing is done for you so it makes it really easy to implement with your own services.  The repo has a few examples that illustrate how to expose Feature Services from GISTs, GitHub, AGO and Socrata.  Pretty neat!

10. citizen-service-request – Looking to build an HTML 5 crowd-sourcing application for citizens and government workers?  If so, be sure to check out this JavaScript app that provides an out-of-the-box solution for just such a task.  It allows citizens to submit, comment and share requests on social media, and it gives government the ability to review them.  Give it a try here.  If you are interested in other government apps and templates, be sure to check them out here.

 Visit esri.github.io to search for more open source geo projects.

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