Setting up a map background

You can use the same background on all pages of the questionnaire or have different backgrounds for different pages. In the main questionnaire settings (pictured in the image below), you decide which images, interactive images and maps you want to use in the questionnaire and choose which type of background will be used by default. You can then decide which background to use on which page in the page settings.

When you first start drafting a questionnaire, we will automatically add a map (Mapbox Streets) as the background. If you don't want to use it, you can delete it in the Maps tab.

There are three different types of maps in Maptionnaire:

System maps

Maptionnaire comes with a number of pre-uploaded map options provided by Mapbox and MapTiler. You can use as many of them in your questionnaire as you want or combine them with your own maps. Mapbox Streets is included in every questionnaire by default, but you can switch off its use here.


If you want to use another background map than those provided by Maptionnaire by default, you can choose it here. You can also browse all the maps already filed to your team's Materials.

Map overlays

Map overlays are map layers that contain only certain features (such as roads or houses) and that are layered on top of a basemap. Map overlays include ESRI shapefiles and GeoJSONs. To add map overlays to your questionnaire, you can upload the map file here or use the maps already uploaded to your Materials. Then, add the map overlay in the same way as the basemap but to the Map overlays section. 

Note that you can also create your own GeoJSON overlays directly in Maptionnaire with the Hand-drawn layer function.



  1. Upload the map(s) you want to use in the editor or choose a map from your existing Materials or the default system maps.
  2. Go to the Questionnaire settings and choose the Background tab.
  3. Choose one of the map options (system maps, basemaps, map overlays). Click the field next to Add layer a drop-down menu with all your available map options. Choose the map you want to use.
  4. The name of the map should appear above the field with a series of boxes behind it. The boxes represent the pages in your questionnaire. Tick the ones where you want to make the map available for use. You can also decide what the map should be called in the survey's layer menu by clicking Edit names.
  5. If you want to set a default location/zoom level for the map, you can do this in the page settings. You can choose to use just one default location (in which case you need to set the map on the first questionnaire page and the other pages will copy it) or you can set different default locations on different pages (see instructions in Set up different backgrounds on different pages on this page).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Can I use my own shapefiles?

Yes, you can! For more information on the specific requirements for the shapefile, please see this article.

Can I use maps from our city's map service?

Most likely yes, you can provided your city's maps are publicly available and you know the URL address of the service. 

Why is my WMS layer not working?

This could be due to several reasons. First, check that the server URL is correct. 

If the issue is that you cannot see the map layer in the questionnaire editor, try refreshing the page. If you can add the WMS basemap layer to the editor but can't see it in the map view window, take a look at the coordinates; do these match the place that you are trying to view the map for? For example, if your WMS map should contain only the map of a metropolitan area, you can search for it using the search function in the map view.

How many map layers can you have?

As many as you want! If you have many map layers that you want to use in one map view, it may however be smarter to merge some of them into fewer layers.

Is it possible to use raster maps like GeoTIFFs? 

Currently, it is not possible to upload GeoTIFFs to Maptionnaire. However, you can take your raster maps to Mapbox, and add them to a WMS layer there, and then add the resulting Mapbox map to our platform.

I would like to add features on the map that respondents can click for more information and questions. Is this possible?

Yes it is, see the Clickable map object element for more information.

How can I set a default/starting location for the map?

You can do this by going to Page settings and to the Maps tab. Then, simply zoom to the map view you want and click Set. This location will be repeated on each page featuring the map if you don't set another starting location for them.

I would like to use a shapefile that contains several public transport routes. I would like these routes to be in different colors. Is this possible?

Yes it is, if you have included each route as a separate feature within the shapefile. You can then choose the color for each route when you upload the shapefile to Maptionnaire.

Why do you not offer Google Maps by default anymore?

The previous version of Maptionnaire had some of Google's maps as default system maps. Unfortunately, due to Google's terms of service, we can no longer offer this option, as it would mean that you could use only Google Maps in Maptionnaire. For more information, please see Google Maps' Terms of Service (see in particular #3 License).

I'm trying to add a shapefile but it doesn't seem to be working?

First, check that the shapefile contains all the correct files and is in a compressed .ZIP format. If these are correct, then the problem may be caused by a z-dimension in the shapefile. To fix this, simply remove it from the file. On QGIS, you can do this by saving the features again, and in the section called Geometry choosing the feature type (point, line or polygon) instead of Automatic. Finally, uncheck the z-dimension.

I would like to create a map with points (or lines or areas), but don't know how to use a GIS programme. What can I do?

Not to worry, for this purpose we have created the Hand-drawn layers function. It allows you to place features on a map and thus create a map layer (in GeoJSOn format) that you can add to your surveys.

Can I feature labels on a shapefile/GeoJSON?

Yes you can, simply define the Label key (the name of the column in the file that contains the names of the different features) in the file's settings when you upload it to Maptionnaire.

What coordinate system (CRS) does Maptionnaire use?

We use WGS84 (EPSG:4326).

I've clicked the compass/arrowhead icon on the map to locate myself. However, the location is off by several hundred meters. How accurate is this geolocation function?

The accuracy of the location depends on both the location and the device. If you are using a laptop/desktop computer (i.e. devices that do not have GPS), geolocation is done through Wi-Fi network data. Essentially, the companies that provide the location search (Google, Apple etc.) record all Wi-Fi networks within for example a city, and where they are located there. When you search for a location, the system (a third-party provider with access to the Google/Apple data) locates your approximate position by looking at what Wi-Fi networks are the nearest to you and where their data tells these networks are located. By finding a matching 'network cluster', the service is then able to tell your approximate (never the absolutely exact) location, with a certain error margin (this is the see-through 'halo' around the location point).

In urban areas where there's a dense concentration of Wi-Fi networks, the location is usually fairly accurate. In rural areas it may not be as accurate due to those areas being more sparsely populated and hence having a lower density of Wi-Fi networks. The error margin in rural locations is therefore usually always bigger.

Finding your location is usually more accurate on mobile phones, as they use GPS. In the case that the location isn't accurate, the address search (magnifying glass symbol) can help. Respondents can use it to find different places if they know the address.  

I'm worried that my stakeholders will have problems reading the maps. What can I do?

There are a couple of function within the maps that can help stakeholders with this. First, they can click the compass/arrowhead symbol to locate themselves on the map. They can also search for specific addresses using the address search (the magnifying glass symbol).

Locating yourself within the map and locating places through their addresses can be helpful in navigating the map, but of course there will always be individual differences with how people read / understand maps, as they always represent space in a two-dimensional mode that is very different from our every-day spatial experience. If you are worried about respondents having a difficulty finding places on the map, perhaps featuring images of the location in the instructions and/or in pop-ups on the map (e.g. respondent clicks a building and a photo of it opens up) could help? You can also always include follow-up questions in a pop-up after each map marking that the respondent has made, so to ensure that they have marked the correct spot on the map you could always ask them to provide some further details.

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  • Hi,

    Can the respondents also locate themselves on the background map of the survey using their device's GPS?

  • Hi,

    Yes, they can by clicking the compass needle symbol on the map:


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