Oracle Analytics 5.9: Using Web Map Service (WMS) and Tiled Maps (XYZ)

Oracle Analytics 5.9 has been released and it is time to check some of the new features and functionalities. From what I’ve been able to observe and test by now, the main focus in the new release is in 

  • tighter Oracle Machine Learning (OML) integration,
  • additional database analytics nodes in data flows and
  • improved data visualisations features, there are some details that have been addressed and are nice improvements, but I find them quite useful.

Data Visualization and support for new map types

One of our customers, Surveying and Mapping Authority of the Republic of Slovenia (GURS) has been publishing various maps and map layers for all sorts of analyses and presentations using Web Map Services (WMS) for years now. They have been using Oracle Business Intelligence and are looking to migrate to the latest Oracle Analytics Server release. You can imagine, that they produce a lot of maps, as this is their core business, but up until now, they haven’t been able to use those maps with Oracle Analytics or Oracle Business Intelligence (OBI). 

With Oracle Analytics 5.9, this is changing. Apparently, Oracle has realised that some of the most popular web map services have to be supported with Oracle Analytics. Oracle Analytics 5.9 now supports WMS and Tiled (XYZ) maps to be used as backgrounds in data visualisations.

Let’s dig into it.

Working with WMS based maps


Preparation

Let’s take a look how we can add WMS map to the backgrounds. For example, we will use European Environment Agency DiscoMap Map Services Directory (https://discomap.eea.europa.eu/Index/Index.aspx):

In Background subdirectory, under LAND, there is a map called Background_Cashed_WGS84 that can be used in this little demonstration. 

 

Information that is required for Oracle Analytics Maps can be found by clicking on WMS tab 

to open WMS Capabilities information (URL: https://land.discomap.eea.europa.eu/arcgis/services/Background/Background_Cashed_WGS84/MapServer/WMSServer?request=GetCapabilities&service=WMS).

The first information we need is WMS service URL. This can found in several locations in the XML file. For example, if you search for <OnlineResource> tag (check screenshot above), and look for xlink:href element.

In our case, URL specified in xlink:href element is the following:

https://land.discomap.eea.europa.eu/arcgis/services/Background/Background_Cashed_WGS84/MapServer/WmsServer

The second information we need from the capabilities file are supported image formats. These are the formats map server returns the generated image. Map image formats are listed in <GetMap> / <Format> tag:


And the last information that we need to obtain from this XML file are layer names. Search for Layer tag and there might be more of these for each layer. 

For example:

The important part is in <Name> tag. In the case above, only value “1” is used in our example, but in general this could be anything. Careful examination of Web Capabilities XML file shows that this service supports 13 layers, values 1 to 13. 

Now we have all that is needed to use this WMS as a background.

Adding WMS as a Background map

Add Background option in Maps Console is now extended with two new menu items:

  • Web Map Service and
  • Tilde Web Map.


Let’s pick Web Map Service first. More or less standard Add Background popup window appears:

  • Let’s name the map first as Europe Background WMS Map. 
  • Then we need to enter URL we copied from Web Capabilities XML file into URL field: https://land.discomap.eea.europa.eu/arcgis/services/Background/Background_Cashed_WGS84/MapServer/WmsServer
  • Then check the “I agree to trust this external host” checkbox. This will automatically add your domain to Safe Domains.
  • You can’t change Coordinate Reference System (not sure if this will stay like that when OA 5.9 becomes officially available).
  • Enter names of layers in Layers field. For example, enter “1” (multiple layers names can be entered)
  • Format can be PNG, JPEG or GIF.


 Click Save and then you must refresh Maps page in order to be able to use a new background map.

 

Let’s review what have we done.

Click on Inspect and then Preview.


New background map can be used instantly. For example, we can create the following project example and set Background Map to Europe Background.

Pretty cool, isn’t it!

Preparing and using Tiled Maps

Tiled Maps are maps that are divided into smaller areas (tiles), and comparing to WMS where whole map is being transferred from WMS server to the client (Oracle Analytics in this case) only smaller parts of an image is being transferred, the one user zooms in. This means less data is transferred; hence image is shown faster.

Oracle Analytics is now supporting for these types of maps too.

Again, we need to do some preparation work in order to obtain web service URL. For example, we will use OpenStreetMap.

We need to go back to Console / Maps and add a new Background, this time let’s select Tile Web Map:

  • First, we need to provide a proper name, let’s say OpenStreetMap XYZ Map.
  • Then we just need to copy URL into URL field:
    https://tile.openstreetmap.org/{z}/{x}/{y}.png.
  • Of course, don’t forget to check “I agree to trust this external host” checkbox.

Save and don’t forget to refresh screen.

Now you can check the new background map.

 

Let’s create a new project and check how to use tiled maps. 

Conclusion

With the addition of WMS and Tile Web Maps, Oracle Analytics enriches already rich and flexible support for maps. I think that these two latest additions will also widen the scope of possible map-based solutions as not only Oracle or Google maps are supported.

More information:

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_Map_Service
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiled_web_map 

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