Skip to Content

The Malpai Portal

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
Spring 2012

Ken Ramsey (JRN)

The Malpai research project uses ESRI open source geoportals to share and publish geospatial data and services with project members and the public. A public geoportal is used to share data and services that are publically available. A private geoportal is used to share restricted access data and services with selected project members. The private portal web services require authentication and authorization (group membership) prior to accessing its data and services. The Malpai Portal is an example of a public geoportal.

Geoportals can be used to provide access to all forms of data and web services, not just geospatial data and services. Any URL accessible resource can be cataloged and made available using spatial or keyword search. Geoportals are populated using XML formatted metadata files. Content metadata files can be formatted using FGDC or ISO XML formats. If content metadata contains bounding coordinates, the published content can be accessed using spatial search capabilities. Otherwise, the content is only accessible using keyword searches and has no spatial functionality (.kmz, dynamic maps, etc.).

The Jornada LTER site is implementing additional geoportals to provide access to Jornada data and services. The services will provide access to ‘live’ data using data, metadata, image, and map web services. Data and metadata services will be delivered using the Drupal content management system and the image and map services will be delivered using ArcGIS Server.

Potentially, the LTER NIS web services and workflows ( could be integrated with a geoportal and LTERmapS ( map services and the LTER SiteDB ( to serve as the data portal for the LTER NIS. The website provides access to national geospatial data and services and is a good example of a customized geoportal interface that provides access to multiple types of data (see Browse tab @ Additionally, geoportals can reference other portals and geoportals to provide seamless access to data and services from one interface.

The remainder of this article describes the public Malpai Portal ( Feel free to explore the Malpai Portal online, but be aware that the portal is being populated and enhanced, so the content and functionality may not match the descriptions below. We encourage you to register, login, and provide feedback on the portal and/or content.

Home tab:


From the Malpai Portal home page, you can view all records (currently 27) in the portal by selecting the Search button with an empty search term box.

Search tab:

Alternatively, enter a search term (e.g., ecological) and select the Search button to search by keyword.

Another alternative is to perform a spatial search using the graphical interface. By selecting the up symbol () or down symbol () a user can zoom in or out on the map, respectively. By left clicking on the map and dragging the mouse a user can pan the map. By selecting the WHERE clause (Anywhere, Intersecting, Fully within), the user can specify the spatial relationship between the search results and the map display. The text box and related binoculars icon can be used to quickly navigate to a place name (e.g., city) within the map.

By selecting the plus symbol () next to ‘Record shown from …’, the user can select additional portals to search in addition to the Malpai Portal. The referenced sites (portals) are defined in the geoportal configuration. Once the search has been performed, the user can select the additional sites individually to update the search results pane.

Additional search options can be selected using a popup window. Once the additional options have been defined, the options can be applied by selecting the Search button. Additional options include date ranges, categories, and sort options.

All search methods and options can be combined to further refine a query. The search parameters and additional options can be reset by selecting the Clear hyperlink.

Within the search results, the content type is indicated using the following icons:

Documents Static Map Images
Downloadable Data Resource (e.g., shapefile)
Live Map Services

If the title of the content is selected, the content description is expanded. Depending on the content type, different information is available by hyperlink.  Alternatively, all content descriptions can be expanded by selecting the Expand Results checkbox. Conversely, all content descriptions can be hidden by deselecting the Expand Results checkbox.

The following listing describes the information currently available, by content type:

Live Map Service:

  • Open – opens the REST service page
  • Preview – online preview of the map service, including the map service metadata, URL, and HTML code to needed to allow embedding the map service within a standalone web page, as well as user comments (review) and content relationships
  • Note: We have not yet implemented Relationships, which allow content to be related to other content and shared using Preview
  • Globe (.kml) – open or download the GIS layer (.kmz: compressed .kml) used by Google Earth (free software)
  • ArcGIS (.nmf) – open or download the GIS layer (.nmf) used by ArcGIS Explorer (free software)
  • ArcGIS (.lyr) – open or download the GIS layer (.lyr) used by ArcGIS Desktop software
  • Add to Map – opens an ArcGIS Viewer for Flex API internet map with the selected layer added to the interactive map

All search results other than Live Map Service:

  • Website – open or download data or document file

All search results:

  • Details – metadata in readable format
  • Metadata – metadata in XML format
  • Zoom To – zoom the map to the extent of the search results

All search results (while logged in):

  • Thumbs() – to indicate users comments and approval of the contents

The search results are also available in other formats (GeoRSS, ATOM, HTML, fragment, KML (Google Earth), JSON) using the REST API hyperlinks under the search results.

Browse tab:

The browse tab allows the user to browse content within the portal by content type or ISO category and filter the results by keyword.

Download tab:

The download tab, allows the user to request data in various formats. The data is automatically emailed to the email address provided by the user. Depending on the data selected and system resources, it may take time to process the request.

Launch Map Viewer window:

An ArcGIS Viewer for FLEX interactive map is available by either selecting the Launch Map Viewer from the portal menu bar or by selecting Add to Map from the search results. The interactive map uses the FLEX API to access data from live map services described within the portal in combination with base layers from ESRI and other online resources (web services).

Register and Login pages:

If a user self-registers with the portal, by default the user can save search terms and edit their profile information within the portal.

If a user is subsequently added to one or more groups by a portal administrator, the user will also inherit their group permissions. For instance, if a user is added to the geoportal publisher group, the user will have an Administration link added to the portal menu bar when the
user is logged into the portal. The user can then use the administration interfaces to validate and publish new content to the Malpai portal.

Note: User authentication for the Malpai Portal and Jornada website (Drupal content management system) has not been integrated. Use the Register and Login links within the portal (not the header Login menu) to register and login to the Malpai Portal once you have registered.

Feedback/ Contact Us page:

The feedback and contact us page allows users to post feedback about the portal to the portal administrator.


While logged in, a user can enter content approval (up, down) and comments by selecting the thumbs icon () within any content description.


The help page allows users to access information related to using and administering the geoportal.

Additional resources: