GIS, International, Terrain, Terrain Data, TrueViewVisuals, Uncategorized


It is often said that the world is shrinking.

Digital communications and consumer infrastructure mean that even a small company like TrueViewVisuals can distribute updates and reach international markets from our office here in Glasgow.

This post looks at four aspects of overseas visualisation that we have been able to deliver in recent projects; language; coordinate systems; terrain data and map data.


Our web portal and applications are designed to identify the native language settings on the browser or tablet hardware and lookup the correct translation of phrases accordingly.  Such that a French language user of the TrueViewVisuals administration portal will see “Se Connetor” instead of “Log On”.

There are additional language settings that are not so apparent such as differences in numeric formatting.  In the UK we are used to the “decimal point” as the radix character, however in many other countries this is a comma and this can cause formatting and validation problems or confusion.

Coordinate Systems

When TrueViewVisuals was designed, a key aspect was support for local coordinate systems to allow projection on a local grid and allow familiar data entry.  Underpinning the system is a global frame of reference (WGS84) allowing us to implement new country and projection support at the client side without recourse to reengineering the master database schema.

To support a new country we need to know the coordinate system and projection parameters from WGS84.  These are available in open source libraries such as Proj4JS, and CS-Map.  We also use our own code for implementation of specific projections such as the accurate OSTN15 in the UK.  We test using as an independent visual validator as well as unit tests.

Terrain Data

We have recently discussed Canadian terrain data processing and loading for Alberta.


In addition to this and the UK coverage (Terrain50 50m DTM) we have added national coverage for France (BD ATLI 75m DTM) and Irish data for a project.  The latter was converted from DXF contours to a 25m terrain model using a combination of OGR, GRASS and QGIS.

Map Data

We started TrueViewVisuals with customised Open Data mapping for the UK but with growth required to source a cross-boundary dataset.  The OpenStreetMap Foundation, founded in 2006 is a crowdsourcing (community)platform for capturing map data and delivering under a free and open licence to everybody.

At TrueViewVisuals we take an extract on a per country basis from the download servers hosted by Geofabrik.  Then we process the data into our own subset, optimised for terrain visualisation.  This is then cached from our tile server to eventually appear as terrain overlays per country.