Quick Start

This primer shows you how to put a map on a web page. The development setup uses Node (14 or higher) and requires that you have git installed.

Set up a new project

The easiest way to start building a project with OpenLayers is to run npm create ol-app:

npm create ol-app my-app
cd my-app
npm start

The first command will create a directory called my-app (you can use a different name if you wish), install OpenLayers and a development server, and set up a basic app with index.html, main.js, and style.css files.

The second command (cd my-app) changes the working directory to your new my-app project so you can start working with it.

The third command (npm start) starts a development server so you can view your application in a browser while working on it. After running npm start, you'll see output that tells you the URL to open. Open http://localhost:5173/ (or whatever URL is displayed) to see your new application.

Exploring the parts

An OpenLayers application is composed of three basic parts:

The markup

Open the index.html file in a text editor. It should look something like this:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <meta charset="UTF-8" />
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0" />
    <title>Quick Start</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <div id="map"></div>
    <script type="module" src="./main.js"></script>
  </body>
</html>

The two important parts in the markup are the <div> element to contain the map and the <script> tag to pull in the JavaScript. The map container or target should be a block level element (like a <div>) and it must appear in the document before the <script> tag that initializes the map.

The script

Open the main.js file in a text editor. It should look something like this:

import './style.css';
import {Map, View} from 'ol';
import TileLayer from 'ol/layer/Tile';
import OSM from 'ol/source/OSM';

const map = new Map({
  target: 'map',
  layers: [
    new TileLayer({
      source: new OSM()
    })
  ],
  view: new View({
    center: [0, 0],
    zoom: 2
  })
});

OpenLayers is packaged as a collection of ES modules. The import lines are used to pull in the modules that your application needs. Take a look through the examples and API docs to understand which modules you might want to use.

The import './style.css'; line might be a bit unexpected. In this example, we're using Vite as a development server. Vite allows CSS to be imported from JavaScript modules. If you were using a different development server, you might include the style.css in a <link> tag in the index.html instead.

The main.js module serves as an entry point for your application. It initializes a new map, giving it a single layer with an OSM source and a view describing the center and zoom level. Read through the Basic Concepts tutorial to learn more about Map, View, Layer, and Source components.

The style

Open the style.css file in a text editor. It should look something like this:

@import "node_modules/ol/ol.css";

html,
body {
  margin: 0;
  height: 100%;
}

#map {
  position: absolute;
  top: 0;
  bottom: 0;
  width: 100%;
}

The first line imports the ol.css file that comes with the ol package (OpenLayers is published as the ol package in the npm registry). The ol package was installed in the npm create ol-app step above. If you were starting with an existing application instead of using npm create ol-app, you would install the package with npm install ol. The ol.css stylesheet includes styles for the elements that OpenLayers creates – things like buttons for zooming in and out.

The remaining rules in the style.css file make it so the <div id="map"> element that contains the map fills the entire page.

Deploying your app

You can make edits to the index.html, main.js, or style.css files and see the resulting change in your browser while running the development server (with npm start). After you have finished making edits, it is time to bundle or build your application so that it can be deployed as a static website (without needing to run a development server like Vite).

To build your application, run the following:

npm run build

This will create a dist directory with a new index.html and assets that make up your application. These dist files can be deployed with your production website.