Getting Reacquainted With GeoServer

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to get back in touch with GeoServer. It used to figure more prominently in my toolbox but I got away from it because it simply didn’t factor into most of my project work. Time being a limited resource, it had to go on a shelf.

I’m working with GeoServer 2.6.1 this time around. I always found it to be easy to set up but it think the initial installation borders on trivial now. I was setting it up on an Ubuntu EC2 instance so the entire process was conducted from the command line. From start to finish, it took me about ten minutes, half of which was Tomcat configuration.

While the REST configuration API has been available for quite some time, this is my first time really getting to dig into it. I am building a Node application and the GeoServer API makes it very easy to add administration tasks into my application workflow. As new data is made available, it is very easy to have the application publish that data through GeoServer. This all becomes transparent to the user.

One of GeoServer’s claims to fame is support for a wide variety of OGC web specifications, which is does exceedingly well. It is an ancillary requirement of my application that data be accessible that way so GeoServer checks that box with no additional work. It’s not a direct need for my application, however. All I really need is the ability to enter a URL and get back some GeoJSON. GeoServer exposes that by making GeoJSON payloads available from WFS calls. I’ll take the output and let my application hide the WFS complexity from the users. I am much more interested in GeoServer’s wide range of supported data formats, which also saves me a lot of work.

I also like the addition of CSS styling for maps. It appears to me that the CSS is converted behind the scenes to SLD for use by GeoServer, but I don’t think that’s a bad approach. If it keeps me from having to deal with SLD or XML directly, then I am okay with it.

I’m looking forward to continuing to work with GeoServer more. There’s a lot more available for developers to work with that I haven’t gotten to yet. I’ll probably post more as my work continues and I have some snippets to share.