Painless WMS in your Mac Dashboard

I’ve had the MicroImages Dashboard Widget installed on my MacBook Pro for some time, but today, jazzed with my new understanding of WMS from FOSS4G, I put it through its paces. It rocks. It takes the pain away from building WMS requests. Most importantly, it makes it easy for an unskilled user to put any WMS layer into Google Earth.

The widget set is 5 linked widgets that query WMS servers for layers and capabilities, build the requests, preview the layer. One widget presents a list of known WMS servers, grouped by theme, provider, and reliability. Someone at MicroImages is apparently doing some editing and organizing, so that you aren’t left with a list of dead links. A dynamic GUI lets you choose layers. Once you have your layers chosen, the toolkit will launch TNT (the MicroImages flagship GIS) or Google Earth with those layers enabled. Google should buy this from Microimages and make it part of Google Earth.

Download the widgets from http://www.apple.com/downloads/dashboard/information/tntmap.html. A two-page overview is at http://www.microimages.com/documentation/cplates/72TNTmapMacintosh.pdf. Since Dashboard is a Macintosh-only technology, Windows users are out of luck.

I’ll add that I am not a huge Dashboard fan. But this kit is one of the few really compelling Dashboard Widgets I’ve seen.

MicroImages does make a light version of their GIS available for free download. It runs on MS-Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X. They also offer a standalone, supported X11 server for MS-Windows.

What the heck is WMS and why am I excited? WMS (Web Mapping Service) is a standards-based way for a server to provide an image of a map, in a cartographically correct and platform-independent way, so that it can be incorporated into a client mapping app. Paul Ramsey of Refractions Research publishes an automatically-derived list of WMS servers. The standard is defined by OGC (Open Geospatial Consortium).

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One thought on “Painless WMS in your Mac Dashboard

  1. After the usual delays we have posted the 2007:73 version of the TNTmap dashboard widget (i.e., 2nd edition) on the Apple Widget list on 21 February. Try it and let us and your blog know how you like it. You can also let us know about any errors found as we support our products, even the free ones.

    An excellent new WMS site to try is the default location for the TNTmap Viewer which by default links to Digital Globe’s GlobeXplorer. It has newer 1 meter color imagery in some areas than Google Maps. Since it is publishing this global coverage via a standard Web Map Service it is available to view via any WMS compliant viewer/client such as TNTmap or iTNTmap.

    Yes, there is now a an early beta version of iTNTmap for the iPhone and iTouch. You can keep track this development via Safari if you do not have one of these devices by visiting microimages.com/iTNTmap. If you have the device you can add several WMS views by going to this location with it and adding a sample icon for access to sample WMS layers at our site or Digital Globe WMS noted above.

    You may also find we have added “your state” USDA orthophotos for TNTmap viewing at http://www.microimages.com/TNTmap/StateOrtho2.htm. We are now adding new states and 2007 coverage to this site at a faster pace.

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