A tale of two cities: web maps new and old

Bloggage update: Vector online GIS appears to be gaining traction. These emerging technologies contrast with Esri who offers a slew of tools on the desktop and in like mature web mapping services and model building. But these newcomers offer a service to process GIS functions online and allow to load data direct from web source further augmenting their web performance. Here I compare how I used a 180K vector dataset from NOAA NGDC described previously on these alternate methods. 

Kort Game - Location-based web app which uses gamification to improve OpenStreetMap

I'd like to introduce a new location-based game: Kort.

This web app motivates users to help improving OpenStreetMap (OSM) data. Game-like elements are used like credit points and badges in a mission to resolve missing spatial data. Kort combines the concept of gamification with volunteered geographic information and is targeted to non-specialists. Within three weeks more than 1,000 users registered and it has been translated into 11 languages!

After having signed in with OSM or Google account, credit points (so called 'Koins') are collected by the players on a mission task. Examples are POIs without a name, where users have to enter the missing label. All proposals for solutions are then validated by other players. If a proposal has passed validations (around 3 depending on error type), it is considered complete.

Data errors are downloaded every night from a project called KeepRight. The data covers many parts of the world except for parts of North America and others. The final task of integrating the passed proposals into OpenStreetMap has not been realized yet. It can be done manually, though. This an other enhancements like moderating campaigns are planned in the near future.

The project has been implemented by two computer science students during their bachelor thesis at the Geometa Lab of the University of Applied Sciences, Rapperswil (Switzerland). It's based on HTML5, free (open source) and it runs on iPhone and Android, and in Chrome.

For more information visit

Glob3 Mobile: Open Source Multi-Platform Virtual Globe Engine

At last week's 3D GeoInfo conference, I learned about the open source Glob3 3D GIS and Glob3 Mobile 3D virtual globe.

There isn't much on the sourceforge website: "glob3 is an open source 3D GIS multiplatform framework written in java with a very non restrictive license and advanced features." 

​But you'll get more on this page for Glob3 Mobile: "Glob3 Mobile is an open source 3D multiplattform virtual globe engine, running in mobile devices (Android and Apple) and in HTML5 web browsers. In this first version, it allows to connect to any OGC WMS public layer, and show it on the globe. Glob3 Mobile is also a framework for virtual globe development. It allows to write plugins directly in Javascript, and these plugins can run in the three plattforms (Android / Apple / web browsers). The project is currently in development, but first plugin examples can be tested in this site."

The apps for iOS and Android are free.

Batch Geonews: Landsat 5 Suspended, Wikipedia Mobile Switch to OpenStreetMap, Your Facebook Connections Map, Vertical Datums, and much more

It's Easter and I find myself aggregating geonews for you - don't you see how much I love you ;-) Expect less news this week since I'll be participating to the FOSS4G-NA conference. So here's the latest geonews in batch mode.

In the open source and open data front:

In the miscellaneous category:

In the maps category:

iPad maps

Bloggage update: Here is a small selection of mapping tools available on the iPad. Some are from the Appstore, others simply from the web. The upshot is that while there is a variety of apps available for iPads, web maps appear to work just as well. The advent of HTML5 will especially help in rendering vector maps on smartphone limited bandwidth.

wheredat - A simple, easy to use, geocoding interface for web applications

wheredat provides a geocoding and reverse geocoding interface (UI) through Bing maps. You setup an instance of the application and then embed it in an iframe on any other applications that use it. The client app passes an address or lonlat it needs geocoded and wheredat builds a map showing the location found allowing the user to move the point on the map to further refine the location. All this information is passed back to the client app so it can be used or stored there.  wheredat is extremely light weight and quick to load.

Demo Page:

Source Code:

Open Source Geonews: AntiMap, Fiona 0.5, QGIS 1.7.3, GeoServer 2.1.3, Shapefile-JS in HTML5, and more

Here's the recent open source geospatial news.

HTML 5 Canvas Vector Rendering: The Need for Speed

"Vectors are your friend" HTML5 Canvas was a natural extension for Its distinction is to post vectors on the web, overlaying rasters like any GIS, and with a optional PostGIS running in the background. Not only does this speed up drawing maps on the web, it also allows massive amounts - in the millions of points, lines and polygons - to render PDQ (pretty darn quickly) - my moderately complex maps benefit from even clean&crisper renderings of polygons as expected and of tiled images especially...

[Editor's note: Spatially Adjusted also has an entry on GISCloud's html5 client]

GIS Cloud Starts HTML5 Mapping Revolution!

At GIS Cloud, we were always inspired to push online mapping beyond it’s borders. When we started building GIS Cloud a few years ago our vision was, and still is, to move the entire GIS industry into a browser i.e. into the Cloud.

Because custom maps can be quite complex and difficult to handle we had to build certain technologies from scratch. Among those is our own vector and raster map engine. At first, we used Adobe Flash as the output format. Flash delivered great performance, but had two major problems: it’s not a web standard and it isn’t properly supported on all devices. So, today with browsers being more than capable of handling HTML5 graphics we decided to take our map engine to the next level.

As of now, HTML5 will be the default GIS Cloud map engine, through which we plan to deliver the full GIS experience right in your browser. Our biggest challenge and success was to leverage HTML5 to handle “Big Data”!

Even if your map has thousands or millions of features, you can now experience it with high user experience right in your browser!

Who likes caching map tiles?

One of the most common tasks you need to perform when delivering a map project on the web is caching your map tiles in advance. With raster mapping technologies this is a crucial step because you definitely don’t want to deliver a map that is loading so slowly it makes your solution unusable. With large vector datasets this process can be a long running task going on for days or even weeks. When you need to work with your map dynamically like in GIS this problem is even more pronounced; if you are styling your map you want to see the result immediately, just as you would on your desktop GIS.

The solution to the above problem is rendering maps through vectors, and this is where our HTML5 Canvas viewer comes in. It’s designed to render vector graphics in real-time and enable full map interactivity. Data is retrieved from the server as a vector and renders as a vector!

HTML5 Canvas – ideal for map rendering

HTML5 is great for mapping not only because it can render maps very quickly, but also because it is a standard. It works on the desktop, on the web, on smartphones and on tablets which means your GIS can work on those devices as well! No need to build native apps for each of those platforms, with HTML5 you get high performance right from the browser.

One of the biggest benefits of vector mapping is interactivity. The map is not just a flat raster anymore, it’s a fully interactive surface. Each object can be clicked and styled dynamically, and gives hover feedback!

HTML5 in practice

To show the power of HTML5 Canvas we embedded a few GIS Cloud maps below. You can also go to the GIS Cloud application and browse some maps or build your own for free.


UK map, created from Open Street Map data, showing how HTML5 handles more than 2.000.000 features:

link to the full map


The next map shows how 1.000.000 points can be rendered in real time:

link to the full map


Styled vector street map showing the State of New York:

link to the full map


A dataset with more than 300.000 polygons:

link to the full map


It’s possible to render imagery as well. Below we have a map made out of several MrSID images, stitched together:

link to the full map


The biggest issue in GIS throughout the years has been bad user experience. If you were not a professional user using such a system was often not easy. Finally with HTML5 and the next generation of visualization technologies we are going to deliver a new level of GIS user experience. By making GIS attractive and easy to use it can become a much more valuable tool in organizations than it has been until now.


With HTML5, we can now finally visualize the processing strength and scalability the cloud provides, supporting large datasets while maintaining a great user experience. There are now no more barriers to moving all GIS into the Cloud, making communication and data sharing easy which will lead to better decisions, and help move your business forward!


Curious about how HTML5 can handle your data? Just sign in here.


What HTML5 Means to Large Geospatial Datasets

The 'It's All About Data' blog at Safe Software offers an entry named What HTML5 Means to Large Geospatial Datasets. Please note we previously mentioned html5 a few times already.

From the entry: "How will it [Indexed Database API] help the geospatial world?

  • Since data can be accessed very quickly using indexes, large datasets can be handled with ease as specific features can be accessed without iterating through an entire array.
  • The ability to store structured data in the browser and for it to persist even when offline redefines the type of GIS/Mapping application we could build in the browser.


How will it [Canvas element] help the geospatial world?

  • What this means to the mapping world is that rather than sending pre-rendered tiles to the web browser, we can now render vector objects directly in the web browser. Check out what MIT have been doing with the Cartagen project. The possibilities are endless."
Syndicate content