RFC 8: GM 3 - Vector Editing



Last Updated:




Brent Fraser

GitHub: @brentfraser

Dan Little

GitHub: @theduckylittle

Overview and Scope

For some web mapping sites, it is necessary to allow browser-based editing of vector map features. These GeoMoose v3 enhancements will add the ability to connect to a WFS-T server to save the edits to the geometry and attributes of point, line, and polygon vector features.


Must-Have Requirements

  1. Enable create, edit, delete and save of vector map features on a web server using GeoMoose 3 as the front-end, current GeoServer 2.x as the back-end and the existing WFS-T 1.1.0 protocol.

  2. The primary need is to edit polygons, with points and line features being secondary.

  3. The user must be able to edit both geometry and attribute values.

  4. Performance is very important. Loading all (or even a bounding-box subset) of the features for a vector data source can take multiple seconds and should be avoided. This may imply a dual-layer approach (like the GeoMoose 2.8 implementation of editing): one read-only layer for display of all the features, with another layer for editing of a single feature. A precedent for the dual-layer approach exists in GeoMoose 3.x for query operations using the query-as attribute on a WMS layer.

  5. The solution must allow the admin to specify the geometryName expected by the server to override any default assumed by GeoMoose or OpenLayers.

  6. The solution must handle the WFS server feature coordinates to be different from the GeoMoose map srs. For example, a typical configuration would be for the WFS server to store and publish feature coordinates in EPSG:4286 while the map/display SRS might be EPSG:3857. This may imply having GeoMoose convert the feature’s geometry using existing OpenLayers methods.

  7. Feature Locking is not required (Feature Locking is allowed with WFS-T 1.1.0 and 2.0.0).

  8. For attribute editing, the usual data types will be supported (string, integer, real), as well as an “enum”-type to provide a select dropdown for the user to select specific values. Bonus: The enum list can come from a URL.

Other Considerations

If the vector editing layer references a raster layer (the dual-layer approach), an automatic refresh of the read-only (e.g WMS) layer will be necessary after editing the referenced WFS-T features. This is ensure the edits are reflected in the original raster layer.

Proxying the WFS-T server will be necessary if the GeoMoose JavaScript is delivered from an address different from the WFS-T server. This can be configured on the GeoMoose web server.

Proposed User Workflows

The site administrator would:

  • install and configure a WFS-T server (such as GeoServer or TinyOWS).

  • configure GeoMoose files (e.g. mapbook.xml) to enable editing of features for specific layers.

The end-user would, using web browser:

  • select the layer for editing from Catalog’s layer list

  • select the edit tool (create, edit geometry/attributes, delete)

  • edit the feature

  • save the edit.

Additional GeoMoose Community Perspectives

Other WFS-T servers should be tested if possible. TinyOWS supports WFS-T 1.1.0.

Proposed Solution

The enhancements made to address this RFC will support editing using WFS-T 1.1.0 only.

User Interface

Catalog controls

Attribute Editing

Attributes can be edited using the same dialog currently used for the Sketches attributes.

Geometry editing

Geometry editing should work similar to the current workflow for using the Sketch layer. It will need some adaptations in order to work with the dual-layer approach.

  • User selects “Edit Geometry” from the catalog’s layer (layer must be on).

  • User clicks on the map to select a feature.

  • GM fetches feature from the WFS-T source.

  • GM renders the feature in a temporary layer for editing.

  • User edits geometry.

  • GM offers to cancel or save the feature. This will replace the current ‘End Drawing’ map control.

  • User clicks save.

  • GM posts the feature to the WFS-T source.

  • GM displays success/failure message (ToDo: where?)

  • GM updates layer (ToDo: refreshes WMS layer, or replaces feature in WFS layer if single-layer approach is configured)

  • User clicks cancel: GM will dispose of the temporary feature being edited.

Configuring GeoMoose


    <map-source name="census_cities-wms" type="wms">
        <layer name="GeoMOOSE_Testing:census_cities" query-as="census_cities-wfs/census_cities" status="on">
        <param name="INFO_FORMAT" value ="text/html" />
        <param name="FORMAT" value="image/png"/>
        <param name="TRANSPARENT" value="TRUE"/>

    <map-source name="census_cities-wfs" type="wfs" status="on">
        <param  name="typename" value="GeoMOOSE_Testing:census_cities"/>
        <config name="geometry-name" value="wkb_geometry"/>
        <layer  name="census_cities" status="off" >
                "line-color": "#d95f0e",
                "line-width": 4,
                "line-opacity": 0.80,
                "fill-color": "#fec44f",
                "fill-opacity": 0.60,
                "text-size": 16.0,
                "text-field": "{name}",
                "text-color": "#A16214"            }
            <template name="identify" auto="true" />
            <template name="select"   auto="true" />
            <property name="name" label="Name" type="string" default="" />
            <property name="name" label="Name (full)" type="string" default="" />
            <property name="aland" label="Area (land)" type="number" default="" />
            <property name="awater" label="Area (water)" type="number" default="" />

      <group title="Vector Editing" expand="true">
        <layer title="Places (WMS)" src="census_cities-wms/GeoMOOSE_Testing:census_cities"
        <layer title="Places (WFS)" src="census_cities-wfs/census_cities"


app.js: No changes to the app.js file are be necessary. Editing is built into the main library.

Performance Implications

As this uses current functionality (see the sketch layer) and WMS rendering, there should be minimal impacts on performance.

Compatibility and Dependencies

  • OpenLayers 6

GM Enhancements WILL work for: - WFS 1.1.0 (OL6 default), uses GML 3.1.1

GM Enhancements MAY work for: - WFS 1.0.0 (supported by OL6), uses GML 2

GM Enhancements WILL NOT work for: - WFS 2.0 (not currently supported by OL6), uses GML 3.2

Security Implications

Authentication and Permissions

No specific code changes will be included to address user authentication and permissions. For admins wanting to restrict access to users submitting changes to the GIS database, they can use network security or scripting-based client-server session handling.

SQL Injection implications: No specific code changes will be included to address SQL injection.

For GeoServer security implementation, see: - https://docs.geoserver.org/master/en/user/production/config.html#set-security - https://docs.geoserver.org/master/en/user/data/database/sqlview.html

Documentation Needs

GeoMoose Documentation will include a “How-To” on configuring GeoServer, loading sample data and configuring the mapbook.xml


Add point, line, and polygon mapsources to desktop example these will be commented out as they require a WFS-T server to function.

Filed Issues and Other References



Other References


Interactive Testing

It will be possible to interactively test WFS-T by following the GeoMoose How-To documentation. This will include installing PostGIS, GeoServer (or TinyOWS), loading the sample data, and uncommenting the sections of the the desktop demo.

When testing using the npm development environment, edit the webpack.config.js to add a proxy rule pointing to the GeoServer instance:

    context: ['/geoserver'],
    target: 'http://localhost:8080/',
    secure: false

Automated Testing

End to end testing will not be added but unit testing assuring messages are properly constructed will be added.

Voting History


PSC: Brent +1, Jim +1, Eli +1, Bob +1, Tanya +1, Brian +1, Dan +1,

Community: Jeff McKenna +1, Timothy Tabor +1,