Abstract Field based and GPS supported GIS are increasingly applied in various spatial disciplines. Such systems represent more sophisticated, time and cost effective tools than traditional field forms for data acquisition. Meanwhile, various systems are on the market. These mostly enable the user to define geo-objects by means of GPS information, supported by functionalities to collect and analyze geometric information. The digital acquisition of application specific attributes is often underrepresented within such systems. This is surprising because pen computer based GIS can be used to collect attributes in a profitable manner, thus adequately supporting the requirements of the user. Visualization and graphic displays of spatial data are helpful means to improve such a data collection process. In section one and two basic aspects of visualization and current uses of visualization techniques for field based GIS are described. Section three mentions new developments within the framework of wearable computing and augmented reality. Section four describes current activities aimed at the realization of real time online field based GIS. This includes efforts to realize an online GIS data link to improve the efficiency and the quality of fieldwork. A brief discussion in section five leads to conclusions and some key issues for future research.