Add a slippy map to WordPress

Thought about embedding maps into Wordpress?….This is how it is done.

Many of you have asked how I got my web map working on this site. The first thing you need is your own domain, I’m sure you can do it somehow on the free version of WordPress but I had no luck. It wasn’t until I had the ability to add plugins through my own WordPress that I could make it possible, the reason? I couldn’t get the standard WordPress to use embed codes or iFrames.


IF you do run your own site and you DO have the ability to add plugins (see here), then I highly recommend that you add the “iFRAME SHORTCODE” plugin. This will enable you to utilise embed codes from online map services like Mapbox, ArcGIS Online, OpenGeo & others totally within your WordPress, there is even enough flexibility to adjust size etc.

I hope this is all pretty self explanatory but if you need some screen grabs or further detail, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Nick D

Ordnance Survey go GovCo

On 22nd of January Matthew Hancock, Minister of State for Business, Enterprise & Energy, announced the change of business operating model for Ordnance Survey from Government Trading Fund to a Government Company (GovCo).

A new model for operation of The Ordnance Survey of the UK has been announced. This looks promising for the future of the customer and it is good to note the reference(s) to the use of the term “Open & free where possible”. It certainly looks like there are some exciting times ahead for the UK GIS market; and this could serve as a model for similar operations worldwide.

On 22nd of January Matthew Hancock, Minister of State for Business, Enterprise & Energy, announced the change of business operating model for Ordnance Survey from Government Trading Fund to a Government Company (GovCo).

Here is the statement which was made in parliament:

I am today announcing the Government’s intention to change Ordnance Survey from a Trading Fund to a Government Company at the end of the financial year.

The change is operational in nature, and is aimed at improving Ordnance Survey’s day-to-day efficiency and performance. It will provide the organisation with a more appropriate platform from which to operate, and one which provides greater individual and collective responsibility for performance.

Ordnance Survey will remain under 100% public ownership with the data remaining Crown property, with ultimate accountability for the organisation staying with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Further to this change, in the coming weeks I will also be setting out more details on how Ordnance Survey will be building on its existing extensive support for the Government’s Open Data policy and on some senior appointments which will further strengthen the management team.

Ordnance Survey exists in a fast moving and developing global market. There has been rapid technology change in the capture and provision of mapping data, and increasingly sophisticated demands from customers who require data and associated services – including from government. To operate effectively, Ordnance Survey needs to function in an increasingly agile and flexible manner to continue to provide the high level of data provision and services to all customers in the UK and abroad, in a cost effective way, open and free where possible. Company status will provide that.

Mapping data and services are critical in underpinning many business and public sector functions as well as being increasingly used by individuals in new technology. Ordnance Survey sits at the heart of the UK’s geospatial sector. Under the new model, the quality, integrity and open availability of data will be fully maintained, and in future, improved. Existing customers, partners and suppliers will benefit from working with an improved organisation more aligned to their commercial, technological and business needs.

The relationship with Government will be articulated through the Shareholder Framework Agreement alongside the Company Articles of Association. The change will be subject to final Ministerial approval of these governance matters.

Ordnance Survey will also continue to publish a statement of its public task, to subscribe to the Information Fair Trader Scheme and comply with the relevant Public Sector Information Regulations, including Freedom of Information legislation, and make as much data as possible openly available to a wide audience of users. This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS197

Written by Nicholas Duggan – Article originally posted on

QGIS Gets group layer definitions

You may have guessed,  I’m a little OCD. Things needs to be ordered and structured, yes, I wash my hands twice to make sure I get all the bateria. What has this got to do with QGIS? Well, since I’ve started using QGIS I’ve been frustrated, I create all these really cool layers then every time I create a new map for a client, I have to drag them all in one by one, of course I could save the map and open that map each time but what happens when I only need the environment data from it or the aviation data? Am I supposed to have maps set up for each data type that I use?

So, I had a chat with QGIS superstar Nathan Woodrow & he reminded me of his idea a while back called “QLR” – QGIS Layer Reference, whereby you can group data & then save the style of the GROUP. After a bit of a chat, he agreed to update the QLR for the QGIS Nightly Build (2.7 51bb803), making it available to everyone.

Using QLR files, for me, is a gift from above, it means that for my wind farm analysis I can prestyle all the environment data, archaeological data, aviation data etc as seperate groups which I can drag into maps as and when I need them, rather than bringing in seperate layer files for each data.

Here is a demonstration of the QLR in practice:

Add the environment data to QGIS (already styled)

Step1: Bring in data
Step1: Bring in data

Next group the data and in this case I will call it “biological environment”

Step2: Group the data and rename
Step2: Group the data and rename

Look closely, you will see a new option in the menu, “Save as Layer Definition File”

Step3: Save as QLR
Step3: Save as QLR

So now the “biological environment” style is saved, next time I use QGIS, I can just drag this group in and it will all be prestyled and ready to use. Add the QLR by either going to the “Layer” tab and selecting “Add Layer Definition File” or drag and drop.

Step4: Add the QLR
Step4: Add the QLR

Voila both groups load and style perfectly.

See that the groups draw perfectly prestyled
See that the groups draw perfectly prestyled

The new QLR feature is available in the QGIS nightly build. Give it a go.

Nick D

Maptime Southampton

I’m not afraid to admit that I am a #Maptime n00b. After 15 years in the GIS business I thought I’d seen and done it all (except code, not too keen on code). Today I broke my Mapbox cherry.

This is what makes #Maptime such a great experience, not only do you learn something new but you also have some experienced people around you to help answer those really simple questions which many of us trip up on and give up. Mapbox was one of those things for me, a rather strange interface and not much space to do the world bending GIS I am used to……Well, I have to say mixing between CARTOCSS in Mapbox studio and adding features in Mapbox I came up with this:

[iframe src=”″ width=”800″ height=”600″]

Yes, a slippy map with interactive points….for free. My first impressions are that I would need to invest a little money to really make this work for me but if I needed to post up a quick web map (like above) this is a great little tool. The big promo has to go to @MaptimeSOTON though, having the knowledgeable help on hand to get everything working and understand the purpose is what really made this map.

Oh…..and slippy maps in WordPress……that’s another story….

Nick D

What is "GIS"….let's decide once and for all

A blast from the past, here is the most popular post from last year.
What is GIS?…It’s been done to a death be everyone but I think they are missing something

I swore I would never do this, giving opinions on an ever changing industry which is in its’ infancy still is a job for the companies wanting to make money out of the word. Yet here I sit, about to put a few thoughts out to you, peers, colleagues and those ready to cut me down and wear my skin (you know who you are :P).

Who said that?

Previously I have discussed what it is I do within my chosen career and the constant question of “what is GIS” and it would appear that even within the industry that there is still no agreement as to what it really is. Some saying it is computer software and others simply stating that it is a system for analysing geographic data. Here are just a few of the more prominent statements on “What is GIS?”

In the strictest sense, a GIS is a computer system capable of assembling, storing, manipulating, and displaying geographically referenced information, i.e. data identified according to their locations. Practitioners also regard the total GIS as including operating personnel and the data that go into the system.” USGS

“A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer-based tool for mapping and analyzing things that exist and events that happen on earth. GIS technology integrates common database operations such as query and statistical analysis with the unique visualization and geographic analysis benefits offered by maps.” ESRI

“GIS is an integrated system of computer hardware, software, and trained personnel linking topographic, demographic, utility, facility, image and other resource data that is geographically referenced.” NASA

 “A Geographic Information System (GIS) can save, search, retrieve and analyze geographic data. GIS is currently being used academically and in many professional fields including environmental science and transportation. Everyday GIS use can be seen in the hand-held Global Positioning Systems (GPS) carried by hikers and fishermen and in navigation systems that many cars have today.” Dr Wansoo 

“Put simply, a GIS is a geographical information system, and to make that system work, you need maps and some software. We are one of many organisations producing map data for use in GIS. There are many more companies who then produce GIS software. A GIS can be a simple desktop software package costing a few hundred pounds, running on a standalone PC or it could be a large network of workstations and servers with many different software components costing millions of pounds. Through using a GIS, a simple map can become a very sophisticated information source. A GIS can take in all of the information on a map about features, their uses, names and more and record it in electronic form” Ordnance Survey

“A geographic information system (GIS) is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographical data” Wikipedia

If us professionals are confused, then imagine how the learners feel!

So it is a software, a hardware, a method for presenting types of geographical data, a utility, a GPS….no wonder no one understands what we do! In fact, the more I speak with the professionals around me, the more confused I get about what GIS actually is.

A good question I get asked is, “What did people do before GIS?” and my answer is always “Exactly what they do know, only with computers”. That is not to say that GIS is solely computer based, it is more that the term was coined to make using a computer more inviting…..just look at “Word processing” (instead of writing) or “emailing” (instead of posting) or my personal favourite “CAD” (instead of technical drawing), all jargon designed to get people used to the new digital format.

The actual word GIS first appears around 1960 when the federal Department of Forestry and Rural Development. Developed by Dr. Roger Tomlinson, created a new computerised mapping system called the “Canada Geographic Information System” (CGIS) and was used to store, analyze, and manipulate data collected for the Canada Land Inventory – an effort to determine the land capability for rural Canada by mapping information about soils, agriculture, recreation, wildlife, waterfowl, forestry and land use at a scale of 1:50,000. A rating classification factor was also added to permit analysis. As a result of this, Tomlinson has become known as the “father of GIS”, particularly for his use of overlays in promoting the spatial analysis of convergent geographic data

Before 1960 there were computerised mapping software but it is the CGIS which is THE first recorded reference of the term, first written about 1967 in “An introduction to the geo-information system of Canada Land Inventory”

First GIS reference

Now it is interesting to note that although the CGIS was a computer based system, the “Geographic Information System” referred to in the image above was a COMPUTER BASED geographic information system, contrary to the belief that a GIS is solely computer based.

What is interesting to know here, is that the work had been done for many years beforehand manually, a manual system was already in place, though it was so expensive to do, the computer based system HAD to be built. Here is a video from the ESRI website which shows Tomlinson in 1967 selling the need for the system:

So lets consider the facts and come to the wrong decision…

I propose this: A Geographical Information System is a system designed to (but not limited to) capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and/or  present all types of geographical data based on a geodetic system

Note the “based on a geodetic system”…I strongly believe that we are missing the essential criterium in our definition of a GIS, tools like QGIS, ArcGIS, GRASS, Google Earth all have a geodetic system at its base, you can still do the analysis/mapping/survey manually using the geodetics but without the geodetics it be merely mapping analysis….I’ll give you a minute to chew that one over but I have thought about this for a while and have sat back watching the industry move and the one thing getting missed in everything is the “Balls

Let’s think about it:

Overlaying an 2 acetates with layers of the same geographic area NOT GIS

Overlaying 2 layers based on a datum (manually or computational)- GIS

Measuring a distance on a web map NOT GIS

Measuring a distance based on a geodetic system GIS

I could go on, though I assume you get the idea, in every example I can see for GIS, it is essential that geodesy is involved…..

Or I could be talking a load of balls….

Feel free to discuss this further 🙂


Happy New Year

I’d like to thank each and every one of you for your help in making this blog as successful as it is & to tell you that the best is yet to come, 2o15 is going to be a great year, I can feel it.

As the clock chimes on Big Ben here in the UK it is a great time to reflect on a great year, here are a few of my highlights of 2014:

  • Open Source GIS became competitive – 2014 saw QGIS turn from a great open source GIS to a cartographers right hand man. There are tools and styles which proprietary software can’t match!
  • ArcGIS went Pro! – This last quarter saw the release of ArcGIS Pro alongside the release of Desktop, thus enabling the world to work in 2D & 3D side by side…on the same screen!
  • Mobile GPS got usable (kind of) – With the release of the snapdragon GPS chip inside the new HTCs and Samsung Galaxys, accuracy was finally down to a couple of metres, quite impressive for a little mobile.
  • xyHt magazine went live – Professional Survey magazine rebranded and asked me to write some bits & pieces (along with some of my awesome GIS friends), the result? A huge success all round!

Looking over the blog, there has been almost 100,000 visits to the blog in 2014 with the most shared post being the “Can I use this data or map” over 10,000 visitors alone!


I hope that 2015 brings you all the success & happiness you desire and I hope that you continue to visit as there are some great articles lined up for this year including offshore & onshore renewable energy analysis, QGIS v ArcGIS, a web server shoot-out and maybe a little competition here or there…..

Nick D