Camptocamp attended SIGGRAPH 2014, held this week in Vancouver (Canada). SIGGRAPH is the world conference on Computer Graphics and it is in this context, applied to Web mapping as well as to virtual globes, that Camptocamp was present. WebGL is an important part in this event.
Camptocamp had the opportunity to present its work at the “Cesium WebGL” and the “WebGL GeoWeb” BoF sessions. Three areas guided our demos:
- The integration into the Cesium virtual globe via the Cesium Terrain Server of high-precision digital terrain model (2m mesh) at a country scale, draped with aerial imagery (25cm/pixel). On that basis, our demonstration also presented the installation of 3D vector buildings onto the virtual globe in glTF format.
- The coupling of the OpenLayers 3 library and the CesiumJS library with the development of a wrapping library, facilitating the implementation of homogeneous solutions with a 2D rendering with OpenLayers 3 or a 3D rendering with Cesium. This library allows to synchronize mapping contexts, sources of data displayed, and operations both in 2D and 3D. Obviously, this library including OpenLayers 3 and Cesium can compile with the closure compiler for outstanding performances and give free access to the full API for developers of the two underlying libraries.
- The use of an OGC stack coupled with the x3dom library for webcasting geological models, allowing the user to visualize in 3D the different geological strata, to query them, to change their representation and, element particularly important for analysts, to be able, by simply moving a cursor, to vary the scale of the vertical axis. This stack consists of PostGIS, GeoServer with W3DS module, the x3d exchange format for data dissemination by Web service.
The SIGGRAPH conference was a great success with a record number of participants. We note most particularly the following:
- The release version 1.0 of Cesium virtual globe: the project is now mature, has a very rich and extremely well documented API and will, in 2015, support more formats such as KML, WFS, WCS etc. This project, like OpenLayers 3, is an incredible bet on the great technological evolution currently taking place. The choice of WebGL was not at all that clear when the development of these projects started but it is now excellent.
- The conclusive test of the Oculus glasses which provide an incredible immersive 3D experience, even for people with a bad stereoscopic vision.
- The trial of the cardboard from Google (a copy is available for testing in Camptocamp’s offices) that allows you to experiment cheaply virtual reality (sic) on an Android device .
- The WebGL BoF, confirming this groundswell, with the participation of Microsoft (presentation of the Google Maps 3D application on IE11 on the Surface tablet!), numerous demonstrations on “classic” laptops showing the power of technology by hosting scenes with increasingly complex hyper-fluid 3D renderings, and the presentation of the MathBox2 library, WebGL variation similar to the d3js library that should be closely monitored!
SIGGRAPH 2014 gave us also the opportunity to meet the many people with whom we have been working in recent years and to outline the new initiatives to be taken so that GIS continue to benefit from the latest technological advances.