Mapboard GIS

Mapboard GIS is an iPad + Apple Pencil app for drawing geologic maps. It combines the natural editing workflow of pen-and-paper mapping with the precision, flexibility, and scale-independence of geospatial information systems (GIS). Its forward-looking design helps beginner and expert mappers produce multiscale, topologically consistent geologic maps.

Mapboard GIS was born out of frustration with both paper– and GIS-based mapping workflows.


Pen-based mapping

Mapboard GIS hides its sophisiticated spatial engine behind simple tools for drawing, erasing, and reshaping features. Quicker editing allows mapping time to be spent refining interpretations instead of fighting with technical tools.


In current digital mapping workflows, contacts are fully digitized prior to "closing" linework to form unit polygons. The iterative topological solver within Mapboard GIS painlessly keeps the structure of the map consistent.

Tether to desktop GIS

Field mapping is important, but Mapboard GIS is even more powerful alongside a networked computer. Its tethered mode, backed by a PostGIS spatial database, allows work across massive datasets. The PostGIS Geologic Map topology solver can maintain a consistent map during editing, even during collaborative mapping!

Open by design

Mapboard GIS conforms to open standards. It is backed by Spatialite and PostGIS databases, which are seamlessly readable by a wide range of GIS software. The server components that drive its tethered mode are simple and open-source, allowing customized integrations with external GIS systems.

A focused tool

Mapboard GIS strives to bring hand-drawn geologic maps into the digital age, providing an elegant alternative to its namesake field equipment. Many other apps already capably augment field notebooks, Brünton compasses, and navigational devices. We try not to reinvent the wheel — but going forward, we hope to integrate with other tools for seamless data-collection experiences.


Mapboard GIS is a powerful tool for field and desktop GIS, developed by active geoscience researchers. Our $29.99/year Full Version subscription helps defray the cost of development and sustain the project over time. The demo version is limited to 50 edit operations per day.