Publish maps and large images: overview of tools for Culture heritage sector

Available on our website is a complex overview on how to publish large images, such as scans or maps.

The text was prepared for culture heritage institutions, which often struggle with the publishing process.

This step-by-step explanation helps you gain insight about available tools and presents tested solutions that are easily applicable for anybody who needs to bring visual content online.

The article is available at: www.klokantech.com/cultural-heritage


MBTiles offline viewer

If you have an MBTiles file, it gets quite difficult to open it in the offline mode. MapTiler can do that as a standard feature. Double click on any mbtiles file and you will immediately see the content. 

When you close the preview, it is possible to directly upload such map to a webhosting, like Amazon s3 or Google Storage. With tileserver.php you can host MbTiles also on your own server.



Create Google Earth KML Overlay with MapTiler

A new video tutorial is available - How to create a Google Earth KML SuperOverlay with MapTiler.

It is as easy as few clicks! Check the video:



OL3-Cesium: Third dimension for OpenLayers

Klokan Technologies GmbH team, in cooperation with CampToCamp and BoundlessGeo, designed and implemented a binding between the OpenLayers and Cesium projects.

If you want to add the third dimension to your existing map application or map portal powered by OpenLayers V3, now it can be done with just two lines of code:

var ol3d = olcs.OLCesium(map); // map is the ol.Map instance

This will load and synchronize view position, user interaction, compatible raster layers as well as vector features with styling (GeoJSON, KML, WFS, ...). Changes done on OL3 side are directly reflected on the 3D view - so existing controls for user interaction or for switching the visibility of individual layers run out of the box. For advanced features, the core provides additional functions, and there is a direct access to the Cesium scene as well. The terrain is supported too, including the one from a custom terrain data (DEM).

Try the switching between 2D map and 3D globe (and view the source code of the example):

Or try the demonstration of the side-by-side view:

The complete source code of this project and more examples available at:

The OL3Cesium project is built thanks to know-how and experience we gained while working on the open-source WebGL Earth and OpenLayers V3. Several challenging and interesting problems (such as equations for live synchronization of 2D view and 3D camera, calculating distance vs resolution/zoom level, performance optimizations, etc) were solved during the implementation of the project and are described in the tickets and pull requests on GitHub. We are pleased to work together with CampToCamp and BoundlessGeo to deliver this new and practical tool to the OpenLayers community.

Klokan Technologies offers contracted development, consulting and additional improvement of the project. We can assist with preparing of a high-performance raster WMTS tile layers with MapTiler or rendering of custom terrain data tiles. We are especially interested in implementing support for raster map services in alternative map projections via GPU transformation. Contact us at info@klokantech.com for a quote!


Georeferencer for David Rumsey: 40.000 maps online

A new application of Georeferencer was announced 7th November 2014 in New York.

This time, another 40.000 maps have been published by David Rumsey and are available for online georeferencing.

Try it yourself at http://rumsey.georeferencer.com/random

New features of Georeferencer (coming up with this project):
  • Side-by-side view to compare the new and up-to date maps or any two old maps next to each other
  • WMTS tiles all georeferenced maps can be loaded in mashups
Video tutorial is available at:



New York Public Library: Moving Historical Geodata to the Web

Petr from Klokan Technologies took part in the meeting and workshop in the New York Public Library. The aim of this meeting was to unify the processes of digitization of Old maps and provide a way, that would enable its further analysis.

In one room, experts from Harvard, Yale, Tuffts, Stanford, Library of Congress, British Library and many other institutions met and discussed. 
Interesting was a project OpenHistoricalMap.org, which is similar to the OpenStreetMap.org, but with focus on historical data and changes with a time. It is possible to view, when were different buildings created, what were their names in the time etc.. 
There are also other great projects to mention, just like NYPL Building Inspector (http://buildinginspector.nypl.org/), HistoryPin, or projects for toponyms and documents processing like Pelagios, PastPlace / VisionOfBritain, etc.
Presentations from the event are available at: http://on.nypl.org/histgeo


Easier search for coordinate systems in MapTiler

Search by country, code or system name directly, within the app. Fulltext search for coordinate systems has been integrated in the latest Maptiler 0.5.5.

Keywords such as UK, Britain, Ordnance Survey or OSGB will all lead you to choose the right coordinate system used in the specific country, in this case EPSG:27700.

MapTiler supports over 6 thousand of coordinate systems available from our open-source EPSG.io API.

Watch the video tutorial:



Virtual 3d globe for your website

Custom online globe can become an attractive feature for visitors of your website. No plugin is needed - just the modern web browser or a mobile device. In the following video tutorial we will show you, how to create your own globe from a texture, using MapTiler, and an open-source project developed by Klokan Technologies, WebGL Earth 2 API

To create your custom globe, you will need a texture of the globe with a size ratio 2:1, in a spherical or equirectangular mode. In the tutorial, we used Cassini globe downloaded from the David Rumsey's website. If you already have the texture, just use MapTiler and then suitable hosting - either on Amazon S3 or on any webserver using Tileserver.php.

And how to go from a real globe to a texture? Typically by photographing in a light box to prevent reflection and processing with a software such as Autopano (http://www.autopano.net/wiki-en/action/view/Understanding_Projecting_Modes) or AgiSoft Photoscan. More information about processing of the globes can be also found in this article.

Video available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf8itiTwo6w


IIIF for images in cultural heritage

Online scans of culture heritage documents, such as old maps, books, photographs, etc. are being published by the galleries, libraries, archives and museums.  Until now there was no official standardisation activity in this area. This is now changing with the International Image Interoperability Framework IIIF (http://iiif.io/), which enables easy access to large raster images across institutions.

We are happy to announce a new Open Source IIIF viewer, with several useful features: 

- Rotation on client side  - pinch with fingers, Alt-Shift drag with the mouse
- Drawing tools - polygons, lines, markers - used to annotate parts of the pictures
- Color adjustments - saturation, lightness, etc

The viewer is pure Java Script, mobile optimised with almost native feeling for zoom and powered by OpenLayers V3 open-source project, where we are co-developers (see blog post).

Feel free to try at: http://klokantech.github.io/iiifviewer/

Source codes are available on GitHub: https://github.com/klokantech/iiifviewer/

This viewer is another important part of the mosaic of open source tools for publishing of large images and maps. Together with high-performance open-source JPEG2000 image server can be used to serve thousands of users in a very fast and efficient way.

The mentioned server providing IIIF endpoint for the JPEG2000 images was developed and released by Klokan Technologies in cooperation with the National Library of Austria and their Google Books scanning project, the Austrian Books in 2013. The documentation is available at: https://github.com/klokantech/iiifserver/

Server software runs under Linux, Mac OS X as well as Windows. There is even an easy to use installer.  It is powered by IIPImage server and our code has been recently refactored and merged back to the main IIPImage repository.

Support and maintenance for installation of this open-source software can be provided by Klokan as well as the access to JPEG2000 Kakadu license.


Amazon S3 as a WMTS cloud hosting for maps

The current version of MapTiler (0.5.5) supports direct upload of map tiles to Amazon S3 or Google Cloud Storage. Such hosting is a robust and affordable way to publish your maps online.

Maps rendered with MapTiler or available as MBTiles file are after upload available in various viewers, such as Leaflet, OpenLayers, WebGL Earth, Google Maps API, MapBox.js, etc.

Thanks to the OGC WMTS standard the maps can be also directly opened in QGIS or ArcGIS for Desktop. Compared to the standard S3 utilities, uploading of map tiles is a way faster, especially for larger maps.

The workflow is as simple as few clicks. Watch our video tutorial:


Utrech University used our Georeferencer

Klokan Technologies applied Georeferencer tool for Utrecht University.

There is an important issue in the Netherlands due to climate change and sea level rise problems with water retention. The University of Utrecht has an access to the collection of maps with a strong emphasis on hydrography. Part of these maps were digitized and made accessible for a large audience.

Included in mentioned collection of over 1,500 maps and atlases is also around 300 sheets of water boards, river diversions, plans for channels, dikes etc.

This collection represents important resource for landscape research and shows maps of regions, mainly Dutch. The georeferencing of the collection was realized in April 2013. With the help of this application coordinates can rather simply be added to scanned maps. Next the georeferenced maps can be consulted by means of a KML link in Google Earth or in Georeferencer’s own viewer.

Georeferencer gives archives, libraries and institutions an affordable and simple way how to engage broader public to work and become involved in attractive map collections, provides 3D visualization of maps via Google Earth and offer amazing possibility to unite past with the present.


MapTiler Plus in 0.5.4 release + Cutline editor, GeoPDF, ..

MapTiler is a tool for straightforward publishing of raster maps and geodata for the web applications, mobile phones and tablets with possibility for hosting on any website or cloud.

Today we are releasing a new MapTiler upgrade, the 0.5.4, with several new cool features available to all our customers, but there is more...

MapTiler has a new family member! Next to Free, Start and Pro there is also MapTiler Plus version, which is more affordable then Pro and it brings capabilities our users requested most. This includes:
  • Raster map processing with up to a gigapixel resolution (so cca. 33.000 x 33.000 pixels)!
  • Retina / HighDPI mercator tiles (details)
  • and of course all features already available in MapTiler Start
It is now easier to compare the features of individual versions of MapTiler and choose the right one for you.

All versions of MapTiler, once upgraded to 0.5.4, receives new functions, which includes:
  • GeoPDF + PDF files can be rendered into map tiles
  • Automatic cutline loading for GeoPDFs
  • Cutline editable in visual georeferencer
  • Settings dialog (web proxy, temp folder,..) and a license dialog 
  • Auto-update for Pro customers
  • New easy-to-use version of TileServer-PHP (http://git.io/pzusLQ
  • OGC WMTS (ArcGIS compatible) from Amazon S3 or a custom server out of the box (via http://wmts.maptiler.com/)
  • 3D visualization on virtual globes with WebGL (http://examples.webglearth.org/
  • Opening ArcGIS Web Mercator georeferenced raster files (WKT) 
  • Improved MBTiles file output for dateline crossing maps 
  • MBTiles offline viewer improved
  • Customer Experience Improvement Program
  • Bug fixes and upgrade of the GDAL library and GUI
It is time to upgrade and try the rendering of GeoPDF with the new MapTiler. ;-)

There are thousands of free topo GeoPDF maps available for whole USA: See USGS Map Locator & Downloader


WebGL Earth 2: the Leaflet compatible JavaScript 3D globe powered by Cesium

To embed a 3D globe in a website with an open-source project is now really easy. If you have a simple map application made with the popular Leaflet library, you can with almost no effort turn it into 3D interactive globe with the new WebGL Earth 2 project: just replace "L." with "WE." ;-)

See the examples of use of the API:

The globe is made only with JavaScript, using WebGL HTML5 technology. No browser plugin is required. It means it runs automatically on all modern browsers on all computers with recent graphic cards. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE 11+ and even the latest Android mobile devices and soon also all Apple devices with iOS 8+.

This is a complete reimplementation of our original WebGL Earth project.

Our own JavaScript rendering core has been replaced with the great open-source Cesium project to maximally gain from the open-source principles of sharing of the development efforts. We are looking forward to contributing to the Cesium project in the future, instead of developing our own separate core.

Our target is still the same: an easy to use open-source project with public API, allowing easy embedding of a modern 3D globe in websites, with out-of-the box user friendly interaction and support for mobile devices whenever possible.

In version 2.0 we have decided to emulate the popular Leaflet JS JavaScript API enriched with 3D functions for altitude, tilting and heading of the view, and flying animations on globe. The core functions are implemented and we hope to improve the compatibility of the APIs with the help of community in the future (GitHub pull requests are very welcome ;-).

The project also preserves the original WebGL Earth JavaScript API 1.0 whenever possible.

OpenStreetMap, Bing, MapBox and other tile layers can be easily used with the globe.

Custom geodata (GeoTIFF, ECW, MrSID, ...) can be easily preprocessed with MapTiler (http://www.maptiler.com) to create attractive globes, which can be hosted on any webserver without additional software, on a LAMP hosting with TileServer-php or even on Amazon S3 and other cloud storage services. See: http://tileserver.maptiler.com/#cassini-terrestrial/webglearth


National Library of Scotland: IIPImage server

After adoption of Georeferencer in 2012 for the National Library of Scotland, there was a request to adopt the OpenLayers application. 

Klokan Technologies provided an assistance with approach to fast and efficient web hosting of dynamic seamless maps, The JavaScript Maps API, based on out of copyright Ordnance Survey data from the first half of the 20th century. 

The proprietary MrSID image server used for distribution of over 65.000 high-resolution scans has been recently replaced by the open-source IIPImage JPEG2000 image server with the IIIF protocol (http://iiif.io/), implemented by Klokan Technologies GmbH. This application has now more then 85.000 unique visitors per month. 


Open Data Award in Apps For Europe Competition

Petr and Hynek from Klokan Technologies took part in the Apps for Europe and received a bronze from the panel of investors, and another bronze from the general public voting for Oldmapsonline mobile app.

We are grateful for the feedback for improvement and tips from the investors and also advices from other advanced entrepreneurs and professionals.

More information about the project at


HiDPI retina map tiles for Leaflet, OpenLayers or Google Maps API with MapTiler 0.5.3

The new MapTiler 0.5.3 comes with several exciting new features:
  • Rendering of Retina / HiDPI map tiles from any raster geodata
  • Improved output into minimised PNG (better defaults for colour quantisation)
  • Support for maps crossing the international dateline (+ or - 180 degrees longitude)
  • Background colour of base maps selectable in the user interface under Advanced options
  • Google Earth API web viewer generated for KML SuperOverlay
  • Checking for updates is automated and installation of new versions simplified [Start]
  • Graphical User Interface for Linux operating system available for MapTiler Pro customers next to the command line for full automation
  • Improved Mac OS X 10.9 support (open file dialogs, upgrade to QT 4.8.6rc)
  • Better handling of thousands of input files in the graphical user interface [Pro]
  • Several bug fixes, improved stability on older Windows 
In case you are an owner of a Retina / HighDPI mobile device such as iPad or iPhone or recent tablet with Android or one of the Apple MacBook Pro Retina or Google Pixel, then have a look at examples of the beautiful retina high DPI overlay maps in Google Maps APILeaflet, OpenLayers or OpenLayers 3.
It is extremely easy to prepare such sharp maps from any raster geodata (GeoTIFF, etc) or even scanned paper maps or standard JPEG or PNG - and then upload and host them on Amazon S3, your own server or for free on Dropbox or on Google Drive hosting. See our video tutorials.

Would you like to try the MapTiler Pro demo with your own data on your own computer? It is available on request via http://www.maptiler.com/.


EPSG.io: Find Coordinate Systems Worldwide

Klokan Technologies GmbH, Switzerland (http://www.klokantech.com/) is pleased to announce a new open-source web service with a database of coordinates systems used in maps worldwide.

EPSG.io (http://epsg.io/) simplifies discovery of coordinate reference systems utilized all over the world for creating maps and geodata and for identifying geo-position. It is a practical tool for anybody interested in cartography and digital map making, who needs to know exact latitude and longitude values for numerical coordinates in different spatial reference systems. Included map application allows to show the precise location anywhere on the planet also visually.

The website comes with a fulltext search indexing over 6000 coordinate systems. The search starts by typing the name of the system, name of covered country, state or any of the combinations of these. Searching for EPSG and ESRI codes is supported as well.

Each coordinates system and transformation has a short permanent link and is exportable in various formats (WKT, XML, OGC GML, Proj.4, JavaScript, SQL).

The web has also API allowing integration of the search functionality and transformations in third party applications.

Soon this functionality will be used the by the MapTiler (http://www.maptiler.com) to simplify the transformation or existing raster geodata and images into Google Maps and OGC WMTS compatible tiles. MapTiler is the easiest way how to prepare custom maps for mobile devices and web presentation.

Georeferencer (http://www.klokantech.com/georeferencer/), the online service for turning scanned maps into geodata in a web browser, will soon utilize EPSG.io service as well - allowing a user-friendly selection of any coordinate system and map projection during the georeferencing process.

The EPSG.io website is built around the official EPSG database maintained by OGP Geomatics Committee (http://www.epsg.org/). The database comprises of very detailed geodetic parameters from a range of sources and authorities. EPSG.io simplifies access to exact parameters for thousands of spatial reference systems, transformations and conversions, datums, ellipsoids, meridians, units, etc.

The whole project is open-source - with complete source code available on GitHub: https://github.com/klokantech/epsg.io
Contribution from the online community is very welcome. New features, fixes of bugs and additional functionality can be easily developed by anybody who is interested in improvement of the system.

The web supports OpenSearch protocol. In Chrome web browser it is possible to type into address bar "epsg.io" then <tab> and your search phrase. Firefox can add the system to the list of supported search engines as well. Web site is available as Google Chrome OS application (http://goo.gl/frnJxu). The website availability and performance is improved by a CDN with over 20 caching servers worldwide.

The initial version of this open-source project has been developed by the Moravian Library in Brno, Czech Republic (http://www.mzk.cz/) thanks to support from the Programme of Applied Research and Development of the National and Cultural Identity (NAKI) from the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, project No. DF11P01OVV003 - TEMAP - Technology for access to Czech map collections: methodology and software for protection and re-use of national cartographic heritage (http://www.temap.cz/en/).

The main features

  • Fulltext search for the complete database of coordinate systems from EPSG
  • Short rememberable URLs, i.e. http://epsg.io/4326
  • Type GPS latitude/longitude and get projected coordinates or vice versa
  • Precise numerical location on a map / aerial photo for any place on the planet
  • Export definitions in various formats, including WKT, OGC GML, XML, Proj.4, SQL, JS, etc.
  • Facets for retrieval of alternative record types from the official EPSG database
  • API for the search in EPSG database and for transformations

Frequently answered questions

How does the system differ from spatialreference.org and epsg-registry.org?

It is much easier to find the coordinate systems (for example query "utm wgs norway" gives list of all UTM zones with WGS covering area of Norway). 
All available transformations for selected coordinate reference system are visible and applicable (it is possible to find alternative 7 parameter transformation for Proj4js replacing a default grid transformation, or choose a transformation with higher accuracy for a selected area).
Preview location for any numerical coordinates on a detailed map - with copy&paste functionality.
Complete EPSG database with codes for datums, units, transformations, etc is indexed and searchable, and the individual EPSG records are linked from every detail page.

Main contributors for Klokan Technologies GmbH

  • Petr Pridal (managing director KlokanTech.com, work done as part of PhD thesis at Czech Technical University of Technology - Geodesy and Cartography)
  • Tomas Pohanka (internship at KlokanTech.com, Masters degree candidate at Palacky University Olomouc - Geoinformatics)
  • Radim Kacer (designer at KlokanTech.com)


Video tutorial: Load geographical location from KML

New MapTiler Video tutorial "How to load a geographical location from KML" is online on Youtube


Visual georeferencing in MapTiler 0.5.2

Klokan Technologies is pleased to announce the launch of a new version of MapTiler (0.5.2). For the first time this version includes georeferencing functionality, which allows to turn an image without any geographical information into a real map. It has never been easier! All our customers are being upgraded now.

What do new features of MapTiler 0.5.2 include?

- Georeferencing visually with GCPs (initial version)
- Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks full support
- Windows installer for both 32bit and 64bit versions
- Restored broken support of Windows XP SP3
- Several bug fixes and smaller improvements

We also prepared new MapTiler tutorial available at:


What are the planned goals for MapTiler in 2014?

Here are some of the plans and new features which we work on:

- OGC GeoPackage as an output
- Easier selection of coordinate systems (EPSG) and tiles in local grids
- Mobile applications (Android / iOS) with open source code
- Improved TileServer.PHP and WMTS hosting
- Direct support for rendering retina tiles (512x512px)
- Enhanced interface for visual georeferencing and clipping with cutline
- New input formats (GeoPDF, etc)
- Updating the existing tilesets with new files - with rendering on top of the tiles.

Moreover, a new hosting technology for very large map tilesets is now being tested - with CDN cache and delivery from over 20 servers all over the world, support for WMS, WMTS, and secure HTTPS protocol and unlimited transfers of the published maps.

Do you want to take part in the testing? Ideas for improvement? Contact us via our email: info@klokantech.com