Revolutionizing Location data through accessibility: The OGC APIs Maps Virtual Code Sprint

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On July 28 and 29, 2020, OGC hosted a virtual sprint to advance the OGC API - Maps candidate standard, one of many APIs being rolled out by the organization to revolutionize how location information is accessed and shared across the industry.

Sponsored by Ordnance Survey, participants prototyped  implementations of the draft OGC API - Maps - Part 1: Core standard, identifying missing requirements, and documenting these requirements so that the candidate standard could be improved.  

The draft OGC API - Maps - Part 1: Core standard defines a Web API for requesting map images online. The draft standard allows a client application to request images, or change parameters such as size and coordinate reference systems at the time of request, making them implementer-friendly and easily understandable by developers without geospatial experience. A server that implements the draft standard provides information about available maps, produces them, and answers queries regarding their content. The draft standard comes from OGC’s concerted effort to create modular, resource-oriented API standards that use OpenAPI for describing interfaces that offer geographic information over the web - known collectively as the OGC API family of standards.

Multiple organizations provided servers, API implementations, and capabilities during the event:

  • The Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) deployed an instance of the MiraMon Map Server that implements support for the draft OGC API - Maps standard. The server is implemented as a CGI application encoded in C language as a part of the MiraMon Geographic Information System (GIS) & Remote Sensing (RS) suite and is interoperable with other vendors’ clients. 
  • CubeWerx deployed an implementation of OGC API - Maps and other OGC API standards, CubeWerx server ("cubeserv"), in the C programming language. The server exposes an interactive API description created from the OpenAPI definition document which enables both users and client applications to query the server. The server was updated in real time based on feedback from other participants using the services during the sprint.
  • Ecere initiated the development of server-side maps rendering capabilities, deployed at an end-point supporting OGC API - Maps, and a number of other OGC API standards. The implementation was done in Ecere’s GNOSIS Map Server product which leverages the open-source cross-platform Ecere SDK and eC programming language. 
  •  Ordnance Survey’s OpenMapLocal product was among the maps published through Ecere’s development survey. It was exposed as a collection supporting OGC API - Maps. Ecere also worked on implementing client support for visualizing maps accessed through OGC API - Maps in GNOSIS Cartographer.
  • Brad Hards extended an existing OpenSphere plugin to support OGC API - Maps. OpenSphere as a pluggable, single-page, GIS web application that supports both 2D and 3D views. It supports binding to many popular servers and formats. Other features include animation of both raster and vector data, import and export of various formats, and saving files and layers between sessions.

 UAB-CREAF's map implementation during the sprint

The draft OGC API - Maps standard addresses use cases similar to those addressed by the OGC Web Map Service (WMS) standard. One of the prototype implementations demonstrated how to create a facade or proxy that exposes a WMS through an OGC API - Maps interface. Development of the prototype was used as the basis for developing a basic guide for developers that use the Sprint Framework (spring.io) - a popular framework for Java developers. The prototype implementation published a map created from the Ordnance Survey’s OS Open Zoomstack product.

As has been the case with other recent OGC API Sprints, the conversations, collaboration, and standards-setting continues after the Sprint finishes with very active dialog in the dedicated chat channels and GitHub repository.

Ecere’s GNOSIS Cartographer accessing CubeWerx server during the sprint

“OS was pleased to sponsor this OGC API Sprint, focussed on developing a standardised web-native API for delivering maps. We look forward to this standard being widely adopted and working well with OGC’s recent API for Features – the ‘raw data’ from which maps are made.” said Peter Parslow, Open Standards Lead at Ordnance Survey.
OGC’s community of hundreds of location experts have been designing and testing the new OGC API family of standards through hackathons, sprints, and workshops to provide a modern solution to tomorrow’s location sharing issues. To get involved in future sprints and other upcoming events, see the list of upcoming OGC webinars.