25 Useful JavaScript Libraries And Tools for Creating Interactive Maps

By getting your hands on the right JavaScript libraries and tools, you can significantly reduce the amount of time and effort needed for any web development task.

We present you with 25 such sources for building and embedding interactive maps.

While JavaScript has been around for almost two decades, it is only recently, with the rise of web 2.0, that it has become such a powerful force in modern web development. A smart developer can speed up the process of development and enhance user experience through a judicious use of JavaScript APIs and tools. Thankfully, there are several JavaScript libraries and tools that can help you get a lot done in little time.

Recently, we were working on a project in which maps and mapping played a big role. We needed to create all kinds of maps using JavaScript. We stumbled upon a number of cool and high-performance JavaScript tools for creating different types of interactive maps. Are you working on a project that involves the building of interactive maps?

As a developer, it is best to build a toolbox with a large number of resources – this can help you save a lot of time. Even if you are not a developer or designer and simply want to insert a map on your website, most of the tools in this list are pretty easy to use (as long as you have an elementary understanding of HTML and JavaScript). Here are 25 tools that will make your task simpler. Some of them may charge you, but most of them are free and open source.


1. Leaflet

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

If you are looking for mobile-friendly interactive maps, this is one of the best sources. This open source JavaScript library works across all major mobile and web platforms. It can benefit from new features of HTML5 and CSS3 on modern browses, but it also works fine on the old ones.


2. OpenLayers

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

OpenLayers helps you place dynamic maps in any web page and it has no server-side dependencies. Plus, it can display map markers and tiles that you have downloaded from any source. Like all the best libraries and tools on this list, it is open source and free to use. However, it is difficult to use on mobiles.


3. GeoExt

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

This is a JavaScript toolkit for rich web mapping applications. It combines the knowhow from OpenLayers with an efficient user interface from Ext JS to help you create GIS and mapping apps for web applications quickly and effectively.


4. Polymaps

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

For developers who need to present a wide range of data through a variety of maps, Polymaps is ideal. The best part is that it is pretty comprehensive: not only can you use maps from traditional sources, but you can get support for different visual presentations for tiled vector data.


5. Mapstraction

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

This library can act as a single interface for a number of different JavaScript Map APIs. If you are using a number of Map APIs and want one place from which to manage it all, this is the right choice. It will also enable you to switch between map providers and it supports almost all major Map APIs.


6. DataMaps

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

Want to simply copy-paste a script quickly and get a simple sort of map on your web page? This is a bundle of maps for data visualization that you can download in a single JavaScript file.


7. Gmaps

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

When it comes to maps and mapping technology, very few services can match the breadth and scope of services offered by Google. If you want to make the most of Google Maps, gmaps.js will help you get things done with minimal fuss.


8. Google Maps (Official)

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

The Google Maps JavaScript API is another way in which you can benefit from the powerful mapping capabilities of Google. The latest versions is designed for a smoother, faster and better mobile experience. Plus, it also lets you manipulate the maps and add content through different services. This used to be the master JavaScript API for Google Maps a couple of year ago, but after Google started charging money per mapviews, it has lost some of its fan base.


9. Kartograph

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

But what if you do not want to use any mapping service? Kartograph is built for data journalists or designers who want to create interactive maps on their own and put the maps neatly on a website. The bet part is that it is a stand-alone – no server is needed to run it.


10. Cesium

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

This open source JavaScript library enables developers to create 2D maps and 3D globe-type maps in a web browser – without using any plug-in! It works across different platforms and different browses – so you don’t have to worry about compatibility.


11. Modestmaps

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

As the name indicates, this library doesn’t pretend to be a complete solution to all your map needs. But, if your are looking for a lightweight, free library that can help you use interactive maps on your website or web apps, this is a clean, simple, easy-to-use, and dependable option.


12. Raphael

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

This is another small but extremely useful JavaScript library. The central feature of Raphael is that it makes it easier for you to work with vector graphics on the web. It makes drawing cross-browser vector graphics easier. The graphical objects that you creating using Raphael are DOM objects which makes it easy to attach JavaScript handlers to them.


13. Nokia Maps

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

Yahoo used to be a respected name in maps till 2011; Nokia has taken over the same services now. You can use their HERE Maps JavaScript API for building web apps that are centered on the HERE maps. If you are building web apps and trying to get maps on the website or apps for the first time, they provide good guidance on their site on how to create and embed interactive maps.


14. amMap

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

This tool offers a number of features – it lets you use photos or images as layers and backgrounds, and it lets you highlight location and routes. It supports all modern browsers, and it also works fine on all the major mobile operating systems. You can use the service for free to create and embed interactive apps in your web apps and websites.


15. UMapper

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

UMapper is a web-based map-authoring application that will be pretty handy when you are trying to create embeddable maps for Adobe Flash. The best thing about this tool is that you do not need a high level of skills to create good maps – you can start drawing shapes and interactive maps within minutes using this map. It is a pretty powerful tool that uses advanced algorithms for displaying vector images and complex data sets.


16. Quickmaps

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

The quickmaps tool is in the beta version, but it is quite useful when you are in a hurry and want to create a map fast and post it on your website. What I love about this tool is that you can do all the work in your browser. The quickmaps tool is a really good option when you need to get things done instantaneously.


17. MapQuest Tools

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

MapQuest is one of the oldest map providers for the web. While it started as a paid service, it is transitioning towards an open source, open maps platform. In addition to its popular API, it also offers a number of free tools. Its Map Builder tool makes it very easy for you to add locations, create shapes & outlines, and add places to an interactive or static map.


18. MapBox

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

Powered by OpenStreetView, MapBox is one the best looking map tools around. But it combines superb functionality with its attractive form: you have access to an array of customizations and preset color themes, you can use the service in several languages, and it lets you create maps that are perfect for web apps, websites or products.


19. ZeeMaps

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

This is a tool that is tailored for specific types of interactive maps – it is wonderful at letting you create, publish and share maps for presentation or geoanalysis. It offers the kind of features that most other tools on the list; in addition, it makes it easier for you to get inputs for the map from different sources and set up 3-level access for the maps.


20. Click2Map

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

Click2Map is one lightening fast app on a list of tools that aren’t exactly slow. Click2Map is an editor that lets you create powerful maps online, let’s you add markers and automatically clusters them. You can even choose to host your maps on their servers. Most designers or developers have become adepts at using their mobile devices for getting a lot of things done. How about creating and publishing maps right from your mobile? You can get the app version too!


21. ClustrMaps

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

Okay, this one is not exactly a map builder. But, it provides a service that has become vital for the web developer in a world where SEO and analytics rule. All you need to do is use the free JavaScript (it used to be HTML earlier) provided by ClustrMaps and your the website owner will have a map with real time dots representing people browsing the website.


22. MapBuilder

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

This is another one of those map tools that let you add locations to your map. It lets you use a geocoding tools to add locations and it lets you add a detailed description to the locations. If you are developing a GIS applications, having this tool open in the browser can save you a lot of time and effort.


23. Animaps

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

Animaps lets you create interactive maps – it may take you a few minutes to get the hang of how to use this tool, but it is worth the effort. It extends the My Maps feature found in Google Maps. You can use it to create maps with lines and shapes that change gradually, interactive images, moving markers and text the pops on cue. This is the easiest way of creating a highly-interactive map, and the maps you create using Animaps look really smooth and fascinating.


24. iMapBuilder

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

With iMapBuilder, you can create full-fledged, high-performance, and feature-rich interactive maps in your browser. While there are several tools that offer the same service, iMapBuilder offers more: you can build interactive maps specifically for Flash, create custom Google Maps, and even use your own exsiting images files and convert them into interactive maps.


25. Crowdmap

JavaScript libraries and tools for Maps

This one is a unique tool that will delight all those people who need to create a number of maps on a daily basis. Using Crowmap, you will be able to collect a lot of information from your mobile and from news on the Internet. Crowdmap will help you organize that information and help you visualize that information on a map.

Have we left out your favorite tool or library?

These are some of the best tools that we came across. Do you regularly use a JavaScript tool for creating interactive maps? Feel free to talk about it in the comments section.

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  1. Nice collection and useful to bookmark, thanks.

    How many of the above let website visitors add locations / sights etc to a map? That would be useful :)

    Thanks again…

  2. Also check out Highmaps, related to the Highcharts Javascript library. It has a lot of advanced features while still remaining lightweight. It’s also free for non-commercial use.

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