Mapboard GIS

Features and comparisons

Mapboard GIS is difficult to measure against other field data-capture apps, because it takes a totally different view of its task. It is primarily designed to solve the (very hard) problem of quickly and effectively capturing interpretations atop geospatial data. This task forms the basis of geological mapping and other important tasks for geoscientists.

As the presence of "GIS" (for geospatial information system) in its name implies, Mapboard relies on a sophisticated spatial engine — but it abandons the user interface constraints of traditional GIS software. In the spirit of its namesake tool, Mapboard GIS prioritizes a natural and intuitive human interface for map editing over a fully realized set of tools. It abandons precision GIS features such as point-based editing operation in favor of novel tools geared to stylus editing, such as quickly erasing and reshaping features. It also has path-breaking iterative topology capabilities.

Unlike other field data capture apps, Mapboard GIS is cheifly focused on editing line and polygon data. There are already many apps that support field sampling and measurement collection. It is best used alongside an app like FieldMove, StraboSpot, Rockd, or another tool for capturing point data.


Right now, there is no way to see collected point data in Mapboard GIS. We will work towards deepening integrations with outside platforms for point data in a later iteration of the app.

In order to function as a workable mapping application, Mapboard GIS supports a standard set of baseline capabilities:

  • Creation and editing of point and polygon features
  • User-created data types
  • Management of basemaps, including mbtiles tilesets
  • Spatialite (onboard) and PostGIS (networked) database support

Comparisons with other applications

ArcGIS, QGIS, and Global Mapper are the gold standard of GIS systems, but they are only available for desktop-class devices and have only basic tools for pen-based editing.

If you want a fully featured GIS system for iPad specifically, check out TouchGIS, which is capable but expensive ($299/year). Its editing tools are simpler than desktop GIS systems but still geared towards precision over speed. It lacks the natural drawing capabilities of Mapboard GIS, but it has a lot of advanced capabilities that are out-of-scope for this app (such as managing large collections of arbitrary layers and feature collection forms).

The editing capabilities of pen-centric apps such as Procreate and GoodNotes serve as inspirations for Mapboard GIS. These applications are (obviously) not mapping tools, but they serve as aspirational models for how a tablet user interface should recede to the background behind strong pen- and touch-based editing and simple tools.

Other applications that might be useful for collection of general field information are Input and QField, both of which attempt to integrate with QGIS.