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Web Feature Service

The Web Mapping Service (WMS) returns a streamed image to a GetMap request. The purpose of the Web Feature Service (WFS) is to return an XML document with information. The information could be the bounding box (geographic extent) of a feature, or some feature attributes (in GIS terms, typically called an "identify"), or even "return the list of features that are within 1 mile of this point". Data can also be edited on the server using the WFS.

There is a good WFS introduction at the uDIG web site.

Sample WFS Requests against the MassGIS WFS Service

I have some Java code, BasicWFSReader_java.txt and MassGISZoningHarvester_java.txt, that offer a very basic example of reading data from a WFS. Hope it's useful to someone.

--Raj Singh, OGC (December 15, 2006)

Here is a link to a very simple client that uses the GeoTools and OpenGis libraries to connect to the MassGIS WFS. They can be found at

--Matt Calder (June 1, 2007)