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MapPanel Tutorial

The GeoExt.MapPanel is the heart of most GeoExt applications, displaying rendered data. Leveraging the OpenLayers JavaScript mapping library, it can display rendered tiles from OWS services, perform client-side rendering in the browser, and use tiles from popular mapping services such as Google Maps or Virtual Earth. In this tutorial, we explore ways that developers can customize the MapPanel.


It is recommended that you follow the GeoExt QuickStart tutorial before moving on to this one. It really is quick; we’ll wait for you.

A Basic MapPanel

Taking a look at the example code from the quickstart tutorial, we can see a very basic map configuration:

var map = new OpenLayers.Map();
var layer = new OpenLayers.Layer.WMS(
    "Global Imagery",
    {layers: "bluemarble"}

var mapPanel = new GeoExt.MapPanel({
    renderTo: 'gxmap',
    height: 400,
    width: 600,
    map: map,
    title: 'A Simple GeoExt Map'

Looking at this code we can see a few things going on:

In line 1 we instantiate an OpenLayers.Map. This isn’t required by the MapPanel (it will create a Map for you if none is provided) but we want to customize our map a bit.

In lines 2-6 we create a new OpenLayers.Layer. This particular layer is a WMS layer, which uses tiles from the Blue Marble layer at

In line 7 we add our new layer to the map.

In lines 9-15 we create a new map panel with several options:

This works the same as renderTo in a normal Ext.Panel; it can be an id string, DOM node, or Ext.Element telling the MapPanel where on the page it should insert itself.
height, width
These tell the map panel how much large it should draw itself.
This is an OpenLayers.Map which will be used as the actual map inside the panel.
This is the normal title property for ExtJS components. It will be rendered nicely across the top of the panel.

Working with the MapPanel

While using OpenLayers.Map.addLayer() to add layers is a convenient way to customize the map, a hand-coded, static list of map layers is not always what we want. In order to make manipulating the layer list more accessible to ExtJS widgets, the MapPanel exposes a layers property which is an that will automatically be updated when layers are added, removed, changed, or reordered, with all of the Ext events that go with it. We can use this to, for example, populate an Ext.grid.GridPanel with a live list of layers in the map:

new Ext.grid.GridPanel({
    renderTo: 'layerlist',
    height: 200, width: 200,
    autoScroll: true,
    store: mapPanel.layers,
    columns: [{name: 'name', heading: 'Name'}]

In the HTML, you’ll need to add a div for the grid panel to render itself in:

<div id='layerlist'></div>

More information on the Ext.grid.GridPanel is available from the ExtJS API documentation.


This code is only meant as an example to demonstrate the map panel’s integration with Ext. An Ext.tree.TreePanel with GeoExt.tree.LayerNodes is a a much nicer way to display the layers in a map, with optional support for hiding/showing layers and reordering. The TreePanel approach is discussed in the Layer Tree Tutorial.