GeoPlatform Concepts

Map Block
is an Open Map embedded into a web page.
Map Gallery
is a curated set of Open Maps. Galleries may be embedded into web pages.
Open Map
is a GeoPlatform map object which contains resource information, such as layers and features, and metadata describing the map.
is a GeoPlatform service which manages resources and metadata.
is a simple, nontopological format for storing the geometric location and attribute information of geographic features. Geographic features in a shapefile can be represented by points, lines, or polygons (areas).
Web Service
is an application exposed over the Internet using well-documented APIs which allow users and client applications to perform some defined set of functionality.
Miscellaneous Terms

ArcGIS Online is a geographic information system (GIS) for working with maps and geographic information.
Catalog Service for the Web is a standard protocol published by the Open Geospatial Consortium for serving metadata records.
Geographic JavaScrip Object Notation is an open standard format for encoding collections of simple geographical features along with their non-spatial attributes using JavaScript Object Notation.
Geographic/Geospatial Information System is a computer system for providing access to and management of geospatial information.
Keyhole Markup Language is an XML notation for expressing geographic annotation and visualization within Internet-based, two-dimensional maps and three-dimensional Earth browsers.
National Geospatial Data Asset is a geospatially-empowered dataset, data object, or data product managed by the United States Federal Government.
OMB Circular A-16 Themes
is a circular providing direction for federal agencies that produce, maintain or use spatial data either directly or indirectly in the fulfillment of their mission.
Extensible Markup Language is a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format which is both human-readable and machine-readable.
Web Feature Service is a standard protocol published by the Open Geospatial Consortium for serving feature data, often geospatially rich, over the Internet.
WGS84 is a standard coordinate system for use in cartography, geodesy, and navigation including by GPS.
Web Map Service is a standard protocol published by the Open Geospatial Consortium for serving georeferenced map images over the Internet that are generated by a map server using data from a GIS database.
Updated on January 9, 2019
Have Other Questions?
Please check out our FAQ page in case your question has already been addressed. If you still need help or want to report an issue, please send us an email at
For questions about the federal government not related to GeoPlatform, visit or call 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636), 8am - 8pm ET Monday through Friday.