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Show Us Map! 45 Minutes to Build Your Own 3D City Map Server with SUAS MapServer 3

The tranditional 2D Web GIS can not satisfy the people, who are toughing new technique everyday. The 2D map has many better features such as rapid speed, non-client and easy to be implemented, but with the fast renovation of hardware and internet, those features have lost their adventage to 3D map. MSN, Google Map have supported 3D online map and many GIS companies have also released many powerful desktop softwares to help the users to update their 2D data or build 3D model based on forehaved 2D data.

Such as ArcView 3D Analyst:

Or use VBA and ArcMap to create and export 3DBuildings, shapefile could also store Z data:

W3DS i3mainz -- Heidelberg city map with WTS, OpenLS, WMS. WFS, SLD

I can not introduce all the 3D-software packages to you here, at least one software will make you satification. But commercial softwares are commercial softwares, high perfermance alway goes with high cost. And if you just want to build a 3D city map without WTS (web Terrain Server), without detailed features and textures of building, if you don't care about the different roof of each building, and if you have only 2D data without necessity to update to 3D -- if you just need a 3D map which has 3 dimension scenery that can give the users more intuitionistic and vivider impression, SUAS MapServer will be an alternative solution for you.

Timeline 2 Minutes
SUAS is not one real W3DS application but it conforms in many parts with W3DS specification from OGC.
Before we begin, you should know a little bit of what is W3DS:
The Web 3D Service is a portrayal service for three-dimensional geodata, delivering graphical
elements from a given geographical area. In contrast to the OGC Web Mapping service
(WMS) and the OGC Web terrain service (WTS) 3D scene graphs are produced. These scene
graphs will be rendered by the client and can interactively be explored by the user. The W3DS
merges different types (layers) of 3D data in one scene graph. -- OGC

And if you dont know what is SUAS MapServer please refer to this article: Show Us Map! 30 Minutes to Build Your Own Map Server with SUAS MapServer This tutorial is based on that tutorial as a prerequisite.
- we want to save some time! Especially the installation of SUAS
isdescribed there.

Timeline 30 Minutes
Install SUAS Mapserver.
We could go on with this tutorial and follow the steps till this step:create metadata, you could choose your favorate city data for a good demostration.(I use stuttgart city map(SVG) here for displaying Vrml and X3D map clearly)

-1. Stuttgart SVG file.
-2. Ciry Frida, frida-1.0.1-shp.tar.gz shape file, from
-3. City map layers,
MapInfo format using the Projection: US State Plane Coordinate System,
Florida Western Zone, NAD83, US Survey Feet.
-4. Madison County, Ohio, shapefile layers, All data are in NAD 1983 State Plane Ohio South FIPS 3402 (Feet)
-5. City of Albuquerque,All data is in the New Mexico State Plane-Central Zone, Feet (NAD 83)
-6. City of Coweeta, UTM WGS84
-7. TeleAtlas - Detailed Street Network, UTM WGS84, from Mapmart

If you have not any problem, you will see such similar interface:

Please set one reasonable elevation value for each layer which you have set to visible for users. Pay attension please, the value is depend on your current data, its unit is not fixed. If your data's unit is meter, then the unit for elevation will be also meter; if data's unit is degree,such as WGS84 Lon/Lat, for VRML/X3D format, the unit here will be the same degree, BUT for KML format meanwhile, the unit here is meter(that is the standard of KML).

Timeline 3 Minutes
To display the 3D map, you need download these suites and install them.
1. Download VRML/X3D Viewer, there are several available viewers, you can choose one to download:
BS Contact Viewer free edition
Cortona VRML Client
FreeWRL VRML/X3D Viewer

2. Google Earth. need to view KML 3D map

Timeline 5 Minutes
After the installation choose WMS Demo and find 3D navigation in WMS Extension menu, select SRS:

You could edit the elevation here again. Notice that the request name here is GeMap3D, but not the GetSence request that is the standard request according to W3DS. The reason I have explained before, SUAS is not a real W3DS, for distinguishing the difference and not misleading the users, I decided to use another new name of request here.

There are many other parameters you have not seen in WMS, they come from W3DS. Here is one image that could help you understand those "strange" parameters better:

The image is from OGC W3DS Specialfication

Having no patience to know this? Ok, I have already set the right default value for you, just select VRML or X3D format and click the button GetMap3D.
If you use IE, the VRML/X3D plugin viewer will automatically display the 3D city map; if you are using Firefox, the browser will download the map file firstly and ask you to choose one viewer to see it -- choose the 3D viewer you have installed.

You could choose different display modes and view types such walk, fly and examine to explore you new 3D City map now!

Timeline 5 Minutes
Mabye you have the feeling that something is missing--yes, you are one aesthete, there is a lack of Terrain image. Real terrain images will let users know where they are exactly. SUAS Mapserver is lucky, KML and Google Earth could help him to realize this. Nevertheless you should have the data which is in WGS84(EPSG:4326) UTM project system, that means the format of your data should be longitude/latitude degree.

Example 1: Here I use 2 layers from TeleAtlas - Detailed Street Network that given before: TeleAtlasParks_LU_Areas and TeleAtlasLakes_WA_Areas.

And your browser will choose Google Earth to open the map. And your 3D map now has the terrain supporting. (This is not a good city demo, but it can illustrate how it works)

Example 2: Buildings in Stuttgart, shapefile, WGS84 (supported by Prof. Behr)
But because of the huge dataset, please select only one part of the city, otherweise the GoogleEartch maybe meet exception.


If you have no WGS84 data and your data is in other coordinate system, and you still need terrain supporting, is there one solution? Yes, we have, SUAS Mapserver GetMap3D+WCS. But WCS is still under developping, the output map will be the VRML/X3D format and with the terrain images background that come from WCS in SUAS. Please be patient to wait. :)

Total Timeline 45 Minutes

Ok, you can publish your web 3D map server now, if you have installed SUAS before, you just need 15 minutes to finish all!

The new version could be found in
and (handbook and tutorial are also here!)

Welcome your test and bug reporting, Thanks!


June 05,2007



Thanks for the article

Thank you very much for quick and good information !

These maps looks great! I need something like that (3D map of London) because I am providing removal services and 3d maps are very useful for us... Thanks a lot for sharing!