AutoTopo is a WordPress plugin that let’s WordPress sites display USGS topographical maps with a simple shortcode that is placed in a page or a post.  The result looks something like this:

AutoTopo currently supports three map sizes and the standard 1:24,000 minute zoom level.

The AutoTopo options page is about as simple as it gets.  Just choose a default map size.  AutoTopo maps are created from 200×200 pixel tiles.  So, if you pick the 2×2 option, then your map size will be 400 pixels by 400 pixels.

The default map size will often be overridden with the ‘mapsize’ shortcode option.

You can also choose a default anchor tile.  The anchor tile corresponds to the tile that matches the latitude and longitude that you specify in your map’s shortcode.

Each map can override this value with the ‘anchortile’ shortcode.  Set ‘anchortile’ when you want the map to grow in a certain direction.  Each tile in your image is labeled with a number, starting at ’1′, working left to right, top to bottom.  So, a map size of ’2×2′ would be numbered 1-4, with 1 and 2 being on the top row, and 3 and 4 being on the bottom row.  If you set ‘anchortile’ to ’4′ (the lower right corner), then the lat/long that you specified would correspond to the 4th tile, and the other tiles would be north and west of your anchor tile.  Your anchor tile is always the tile that corresponds to the lat/long you’ve specified.


Q: My map just displays as a dirty gray image.  What’s wrong?
A: You’ve likely typed in your latitude and longitude incorrectly or have specified a location outside of the USA.  Double check that first.


Do you want to help direct the development of AutoTopo or is there a feature that you need ASAP?  If so, consider sponsorship.

Request a Feature or Ask for Help:

Before you ask for help, be sure to take a look at the FAQ above.  If your question is not answered there, feel free to send an email:

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The AutoTopo plugin can be downloaded from the WordPress plugins site.

5 thoughts on “AutoTopo

  1. I did some experimenting after reading the MSRMaps query info, trying to display different resolutions of the map, but I was unsuccessful. Are we restricted to a single resolution?

    If I can get this to return views at different zooms (which is necessary for many purposes), then it could be used for a large number of cool spots. However, if I were going to use this to enhance discussions of many topographic subjects, I would want to cache the map-image locally, so that MSRMaps is accessed for it only once.

    Are there known legal problems (or permissions) with caching the map image we get from MSRMaps? I know these data originate from the (public) USGS, but perhaps MSRMaps obtains a proprietary claim by processing the images, etc. Can we freely cache the topo images?

  2. Hi Ted, thanks for the comment.

    There are no legal problems that I’m aware of regarding caching (I’d be shocked if there were), but this feature doesn’t exist mainly because I haven’t had the time to implement it. It would be fairly easy, just a matter of finding the time.

    I was only planning to support this single level though, just for simplicity’s sake. It’s the one that I personally use most frequently so that’s how I ended up there.

    If you are aware of any devs who’d like to contribute, please let me know.

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