[maplab-users] MapLab beginnings

Jeff McKenna maplab-users <>
Fri, 21 Jun 2002 19:42:24 -0400
Hello Ryan,

We're happy to hear that you're using MapLab.  A great way to start learning
about mapfiles is to view an existing one, and you can grab our simple GMap
application and view its mapfile
(  Open up the GMap
mapfile ( in /gmap/htdocs) in MapEdit, and you will see several layers
in the tree menu on the left.  In your case, you could modify this mapfile in
MapEdit to use your data files by adding other layers.  Use the MapServer
mapfile reference for info on all of the parameters
(  MapEdit's most
powerful feature for making mapfiles is its preview (hit the "Preview Map" icon
in the toolbar) which lets you view your map changes as you develop the mapfile.

Some beginner mapfile hints:
- make sure EXTENT and UNITS are correctly set
- if you are using ESRI shapefiles, for the DATA parameter of a layer the "shp"
extension is not required
  e.g LAYER
        NAME parks
        DATA park # park.shp is the full filename
      END # Layer
- the other shapefile associated files that you mentioned (.shx, .dbf, .sbn, and
.sbx) are required by MapServer to view the .shp file, but play no direct role
in the mapfile
- MapServer reprojects data on-the-fly, but you can avoid projection issues by
only having data of the same projection in a mapfile (which is your case I

Start by trying to view one of your data layers in MapEdit, and once that
happens you're off to the races.  You should use the main MapServer mailing list
for all general MapServer questions
(  Please let us know how your MapLab
experience goes.  By the way, did you have any problems installing it?

Have fun,


Ryan Hunt wrote:
> Hello.  I'm new to the world of mapping, but I'm an experienced php
> developer.  I managed to get maplab working on my windows box, but I'm
> having some difficulty figuring out what to put into the map files.
> I have 42 shape files (that I got from a power utility that's a customer
> of mine for other web services) and I don't quite understand what it
> takes to get them configured into one or more map files.  Is this only
> possible by defining all the details about the layers for each shape
> file?  Or is there a convenient way to have all loaded for me?
> Also, the ESRI system that created these shape files created several
> other files (with various endings like .shx, .dbf, .prj, .sbn, and .sbx)
> .  Do these files relate to MapServer map files in any way?
> --
> ---
> -Ryan Hunt
> -218-562-6200


Jeff McKenna
GIS Specialist
DM Solutions Group Inc.

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