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Tile Server Delivers Enhanced User Experience


Composite Applications are rightfully gaining steam in the enterprise and the hands-down best examples are map-based.  Enterprises have many options when it comes to choosing data to incorporate, and they come in many formats.  An ideal overlay is the Web Map Service (WMS) layer.  These raster data sources can be in-house in the form of scanned or digital maps, aerial/satellite imagery, USGS topographic maps, or any number of other publicly available geographic data.  IDV Solutions has launched Visual Fusion Tile Server (VFTS) to enhance the WMS overlay method and benefit the enterprise in three key ways:

  • Tiled Requests
  • Offline viability
  • Projection Alignment

Tiled Requests
Basemaps that are requested in a tiled method promote a superior user experience.  Remember the old days of moving the map, then waiting forever for a whole new map image to be returned, even if all you did was nudge it over slightly?  That old single-request method meant you always had to fetch a new map, even if you have navigated over the area a hundred times.  Pulling in basemap images in a tiled method is a tremendous leap in the industry and the benefits are immediate.  In addition to a faster, more streamlined feel, tiled maps can take great advantage of caching.  Each tile is a re-usable piece of the basemap puzzle.  Once it has been fetched, it is stored locally or on the network.  Leveraging network caching, in particular, means that the external request for the map tile needs to be made only once.  All others on the network benefit from that pre-loaded set of data, dramatically increasing the speed at which the map "fills in" as the user navigates around.

One possible scenario:  A user can download a world’s worth of map tiles, store them in a steel breifcase, handcuff it to their wrist, march into a cave, and have a viable map set to navigate.

Offline Viability
A continued benefit of network cashing of tiled WMS map images is offline viability.  The Visual Fusion Tile Server pulls in those re-usable WMS map tiles and saves them.  These cached map images are sent to a warehouse of geotiles that can be accessed when common web access is not an option.  The Tile Server fed map-based composite application is no longer utterly tethered to the web.

Projection Alignment
This is so exciting.  Have you ever made, or seen, an online map application that pulls in Web Map Service layers on top of the basemap?  You will quickly realize a very particular pain point to the online mapper: projection mis-match.  I don’t believe I have ever seen a WMS that natively serves up its map layers in Mercator Projection.  This can be a real problem when trying to pull in WMS images atop a Virtual Earth basemap with a Mercator projection.  The tile server has a re-projection engine that converts the typical WMS projection (Platte Carre, or mis-identified as WGS 84) to Mercator.  The re-projection engine is a powerful feature that will address an immediate pain point of any WMS-using composite application.

This publicly available WMS showing Earth elevation uses the Platte Carre Projection (left).  When run through the Tile Server’s reprojection engine, it is converted to Mercator (right).


The mis-matched projections are obvious when draped over the Virtual Earth 3D globe (left).  The re-projected WMS overlay matches the basemap perfectly (right).


John Nelson / IDV Solutions / john.nelson@idvsolutions.com



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