Different types of background layers

There are 3 different types of background layers you can create.

  • OGC Web Map Service (WMS). This is an established and standardized web service to provide maps to web clients. The content can be anything from aerial imagery, to weather and bathymetric data, and more.

    Figure 1. OGC Web Map Service (WMS) background layer with bathymetric and elevation data with location data on top of it
  • Mapbox layers: we currently support the following styles from Mapbox: light, dark, vector streets, imagery, and imagery with labels.

    Figure 2. Mapbox background layer with imagery, streets, and places with location data on top of it
  • GeoJSON vector data. GeoJSON is a popular web format for representing and exchanging vector shapes including polygons, points and lines. GeoJSON files should be in WSG84 reference.

    Figure 3. GeoJSON vector data of the world countries as background layer with location data on top of it
Not sure whether you are looking for a background layer ?

See the Introduction to data management article for an overview of the different types of data resources you can use in a project.

How to create a new OGC WMS layer

Step 1: Navigate to the 'New background layer' page

by first clicking on the Background layers button in the left navigation bar

Figure 4. The Background layers button in the navigation bar

and then on the Add background layers button in the top right corner of the Background layers page.

Figure 5. The Add background layer button in the top right corner of the Background layers page

Step 2: Create the WMS layer

by specifying the WMS server URL and one or more WMS layer ids.

Figure 6. Create the WMS layer

and clicking the Add WMS background data button.

Retrieve the WMS layer ids from the capabilities document

You can always find which WMS layer ids the WMS server offers by checking the capabilities document.

The capabilities document is an XML document, available on <server_url>?SERVICE=WMS&REQUEST=GetCapabilities. This XML document lists, among other things, each of the available layers and their id. Search for the <Layer> elements and the contents of the <Name> child element is the id of the layer.

For example such a <Layer> entry could look like

<Layer queryably="1">
  <Name>unique\_layer\_identifier</Name>
  <Title>Human readable name for the layer</Title>
  <!-- Other properties -->
</Layer>

You can look at an example capabilities document on https://geoservice.dlr.de/eoc/basemap/wms?SERVICE=WMS&REQUEST=GetCapabilities . One of the layers in there has baseoverlay as id:

<Layer queryable="1">
  <Name>baseoverlay</Name>
  <Title>baseoverlay</Title>
</Layer>

Step 3 (optional): Edit properties

At this point, your WMS background layer is already created and available. If needed, you can edit the properties.

  • Changing the WMS server URL allows you to change the server. Typically this also requires updating the WMS layer ids as its unlikely that both servers offer layers with the same ids.

  • You can add or remove WMS layers by adding/removing them from/to the list of WMS layer ids.

  • The display name of the WMS background layer is used in the UI when we need to refer to that layer

  • The description of the WMS background layer is shown on the overview page with all the background layers. This is a good location to add some more details about this layer.

You can use HTML tags in the description

The description supports a subset of HTML tags. You can for example use it to

  • add links in the description using the <a> tag

  • make parts of the description stand out by typesetting them in bold (<b>) or italics (<i>)

You can always edit these settings later

You can always adjust these settings at a later time:

  1. Click the Background layers button in the left navigation bar

  2. Find the card of the background layer you want to edit

  3. Press the edit button, which will take you back to this page

How to create a new Mapbox layer

Step 1: Navigate to the 'New background layer' page

by first clicking on the Background layers button in the left navigation bar

Figure 7. The Background layers button in the navigation bar

and then on the Add background layers button in the top right corner of the Background layers page.

Figure 8. The Add background layer button in the top right corner of the Background layers page

Step 2: Create the Mapbox layer

by selecting the type of Mapbox data you want to add from the dropdown

Figure 9. Create the Mapbox layer

and pressing the Add Mapbox background data button afterwards.

Step 3 (optional): Edit properties

At this point, your Mapbox background layer is already created and available. If needed, you can edit the properties and filters.

  • The display name of the Mapbox background layer is used in the UI when we need to refer to that layer

  • The description of the Mapbox background layer is shown on the overview page with all the background layers. This is a good location to add some more details about this layer.

You can use HTML tags in the description

The description supports a subset of HTML tags. You can for example use it to

  • add links in the description using the <a> tag

  • make parts of the description stand out by typesetting them in bold (<b>) or italics (<i>)

You can always edit these settings later

You can always adjust these settings at a later time:

  1. Click the Background layers button in the left navigation bar

  2. Find the card of the background layer you want to edit

  3. Press the edit button, which will take you back to this page

How to create a new GeoJSON layer

Step 1: Navigate to the 'New background layer' page

by first clicking on the Background layers button in the left navigation bar

Figure 10. The Background layers button in the navigation bar

and then on the Add background layers button in the top right corner of the Background layers page.

Figure 11. The Add background layer button in the top right corner of the Background layers page

Step 2: Upload your GeoJSON file

by either drag-and-dropping the file onto the GeoJSON drop area

Figure 12. The Drag and drop area for the GeoJSON file

or by clicking the drag-and-drop area to select a file through a file chooser

Upload your GeoJSON file

Step 3 (optional): Edit properties and filters

At this point, your background layer is already created and available. If needed, you can edit the properties and filters.

  • The name of the background layer is used in the UI when we need to refer to that layer

  • The description of the background layer is shown on the overview page with all the background layers. This is a good location to add some more details about this layer.

You can use HTML tags in the description

The description supports a subset of HTML tags. You can for example use it to

  • add links in the description using the <a> tag

  • make parts of the description stand out by typesetting them in bold (<b>) or italics (<i>)

  • The area display name property is the property in the GeoJSON data used to label the data when shown on the map.

    For example if you have a GeoJSON file containing all countries in the world, and the GeoJSON data has properties like name, continent, population, you could select the name property as area display name property. When the data is visualized with labeling enabled, both the shapes of the countries and the name are displayed.

    Figure 13. Two maps: labeled vs non-labeled GeoJSON layer
  • Remove certain features by defining a filter.

    When your GeoJSON data has properties, you can only include the features or shapes of which the properties match your filter. Changes made to the filter will be previewed immediately.

    For example if you have a GeoJSON file containing all countries in the world, and the GeoJSON data has properties like name, continent, population, you can define a filter to include the countries of Europe with a population above 20 million people.

    Figure 14. The Background layer settings

After you have changed the settings, press the Save button to apply them.

You can always edit these settings later

You can always adjust these settings at a later time:

  1. Click the Background layers button in the left navigation bar

  2. Find the card of the background layer you want to edit

  3. Press the edit button, which will take you back to this page