Using Woburn’s WebGIS

Using Woburn’s WebGIS

Woburn’s WebGIS is an interactive web mapping application that allows users to learn about properties of interest to them.  This page is intended to help new users become acquainted with the tools available in this application.

The Splash Screen

When the application first loads, you will see the window below, called a splash screen.  This includes a basic disclaimer concerning the use of the data.  However, if you look in the lower left corner of the window there’s a check box that allows you to disable the splash screen from opening on future uses of the application.

splash screen imageThe Interface

The overall interface is fairly basic, and hopefully intuitive.  Below we will describe the use of the basic tools most users will be looking for.

The Map Application Interface
The Map Application Interface

1-Title Bar and Search: Across the top is a title bar with a search box.  You can search by name, address, and property ID (map, block and lot).

2-Map Tools: In a vertical column along the left edge of the map there are 6 buttons.  These are zoom in and out controls, a find tool, and forward and back buttons.  The + and – buttons are zoom in and out buttons.  You can also use the scroll wheel on your mouse to zoom the map in and out, by rolling forward to zoom in, and backward to zoom out.  The Home button returns the map to its original extent and zoom level.  The Find button find button is for use on a phone or tablet and will automatically zoom the map to your approximate location based on your device’s GPS, and will follow you on the map as you walk down the street, etc.  To enable it just click on the button.  Click it again to disable it.  The Back and Forward arrow buttons work like the forward and back buttons on your browser, but within the map.  If you bump your mouse and accidentally zoom in or pan the screen away from what you were looking at, just click the back arrow.  Go back too far?  Click the forward arrow.

3-Information, Legend, Layer and Print Tools:  Centered across the bottom of the application there is another toolbar of buttons.  Starting from left to right they are:

  • Map Information-this tool pops-out an information window that reiterates the map disclaimer, has a link back to this page, and an email link to use for questions.  To close it just click the “X” close button in the upper right corner of the window.
  • Map Legend-this tool pops-out a map legend window, displaying the layers and map symbols that are currently turned on in the map.  To close it just click the “X” close button in the upper right corner of the window.
  • Layer Controls-Clicking on this tool pops-out a window containing a list of all the layers that are available in the map, whether they are turned on currently or not.  Each layer has a drop-down arrow that will expand or contract to show or not show the legend for that layer.  In addition, to the far right after each layer name, there are three dots.  These dots indicate that there are further options available for that layer, such as controlling labels, adjusting the drawing order for that layer, and getting more information about that layer.  To close it just click the “X” close button in the upper right corner of the window.


  • Basemap Switcher- This tool allows the user to change the basemap.  The basemap is the background data behind the City-specific layers.  By default, the Massachusetts aerial photography layer obtained by the Commonwealth’s GIS agency in 2019 is loaded.  However, other basemaps are available that may better suit the nature of your map or just based on your personal preferences.  To close the tool just click the “X” close button in the upper right corner of the window.
  • Measure Tool- This tool allows you to measure custom locations on the map and get an approximate measurement value.  It’s important to note that due to the accuracy limitations of the various map layers and other factors these measurement values should be considered approximate.  With this tool you can calculate the approximate area of a polygon that you draw on the map, the approximate length of a line, or the approximate x and y (latitude and longitude) coordinates of a point you click on the map.  Each of these types of measurements has further options such as the choice of units to use (such as square feet, acres, hectares, feet or miles, etc).  To use the area measure tool click on the map and start to draw an area.  Each click adds another vertex defining the shape.  Double-click when complete.  Draw a line in the same manner.  Be sure to click the clear button if you want the shape to be erased from your map.  To close the tool just click the “X” close button in the upper right corner of the window.



  • Print Tool-Use this tool print your map.  The tool creates an Adobe Acrobat file of your map that you can print or download.  You can adjust the paper size, map title, image format (pdf, tiff, jpg, etc), map scale, etc.  It should be noted that if you had previously used the measure tool without clearing it, the shape drawn for measurement will show on your map.  Similarly, if you used the sketch tool (described next) that sketch will also show on your map if you didn’t clear it in the sketch tool window, however, any open tool windows will not appear on the printed map.  An important note related to map scale.  GIS map scales are unitless when expressed in this manner 1:1200.  However, if you would like your map scale to be expressed in a typical manner such as 1″ = 100′, you need to adjust the scale before you print the map.  Otherwise it will do its best to fit the map as it appears on screen into the map window on the paper, depending on the page size, etc.  In the example above, if you want your map to be 1 inch equals 100 feet scale, also called 100-scale by engineers, then in the scale box you need to type in 1200.  This is because you want the number on the left of the “=” to be inches, and you want the number on the right side to be feet.  Therefore, if you want the right hand number to be 100 feet, multiply it by 12 to get 1200 and enter that value in the scale box.  Similarly, if you want the printed map to be 1″ = 40′, multiply 40 by 12 to get 480, and enter 480 in the scale box.  Once you’ve set your map parameters click on the Print button.  When the map is completed it will show up below the options buttons as shown below.  If you click on it the map will launch in a new browser tab where you can print it, download it, etc.  To close the tool just click the “X” close button in the upper right corner of the window.


  • Sketch Tool-The sketch tool allows you to do just that.  Sketch on the map before you print it to share an idea with someone.  It functions in much the same way as the measure tool, but with the added options of being able to draw a point, line or polygon and choosing their colors, etc. 
  • Notification Tool-While intended for Assessing Department staff use, this tool is available to the public.  It is the tool used to create abutters lists for public notifications.  However, any list you create at home will not be considered a “Certified” abutters list and is not acceptable for use for mailings related to permit, special permit, variance, or Conservation Commission filings, etc.