Overview:
Basic Definitions

OpenGeo Suite consists of 3 things:
  1. Data storage and management using PostgresSQL with PostGIS module to handle goedata
  2. --PostGIS is an addon to PostgreSQL that allows for the storage of shapefiles
  3. Serving of maps and map data using geoserver
  4. Displaying of maps in your browser using OpenLayers
Steps to importing shapefiles into PostGIS
  1. Create a datbase with the geom and spatial tables
  2. Use shp2pgsql utility is used to convert the shapefile into a format for import in to PostGIS
    format: shp2pgsql -s projection -d filename.shp tablename > outputfile.sql
    e.g. shp2pgsql -s 32620 -d basemap.shp basemap > basemap.sql
  3. Import data into database
    format: psql -U user_name database_name -f data.sql
    e.g. psql -U postgres bagocensus -f basemap.sql
Serving up Maps with GeoServer
GeoServer
-- does basically does 2 things it can serves up a map or/and some text
-- uses the following standards for serving maps:
  1. WMS   --  Web Map Service         -- Standards for Maps
  2. WFS    --  Web Feature Service     -- Standards for Features
  3. WCS    --  Web Coverage Service -- Standards for Coverages such as Raster

WMS
Returns an image in formats such as png, jiff, etc
NOTE:
The WMS service interprets the GML file and present the "feature"
on the map
A feature can be something like a road, a lake or building

MANDATORY PARAMETERS:
service
version
request

REQUEST TYPES:
GetMap (required) -- returns a picture

The GetMap request returns a map image whose geospatial and dimensional parameters are well defined. The map operation of the GetMap request is
invoked by a client to get a rectangular set of pixels. These pixels contain a picture of a map covering a geographic area or a set of graphic
elements that lie in a geographic area. The GetMap request allows the WMS client to specify distinct layers, the spatial reference system (SRS), the
geographic area, and other parameters describing the returned map format. Upon receiving the GetMap request, a WMS server will either satisfy the
request or throw an exception in accordance with the exception instructions contained in the GetMap request.

GetCapabilities (required) -- what's avaiable

The GetCapabilities request returns the WMS server's service-level metadata, which is a machine-readable (and human-readable), description of the WMS
service's information content and acceptable request parameters. The response to a GetCapabilities request is general information about the service itself
and specific information about the available maps. This response is the "capabilities" document, which is an XML configuration file that is provided
to requesting WMS clients. This XML file is the metadata about a WMS server indicating its data holdings and abilities.

GetFeature (optional) -- returns attribute information

The GetFeatureInfo request returns information about particular features shown on a map. If a WMS server supports this operation, its maps are said
to be "queryable," and a WMS client can request information about features on a map by adding to the map URL additional parameters specifying a location
(as an X, Y offset from the upper left corner) and the number of nearby features about which to return information.