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Mon Mar 30 12:25:08 2015

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WMS-T Support in Geoserver and Mapserver

“-T”, this small appendix can be found after many popular GIS-related acronym. But of course, it always means something different. Take for example GIS-T (GIS for Transportation), WFS-T (Transactional WFS) and WMS-T (WMS with time support). The world of acronyms is a fun place!

Let’s see what a WMS-T can do for us. From the WMS standard:

Some geographic information may be available at multiple times (for example, an hourly weather map). A WMS
may announce available times in its service metadata, and the GetMap operation includes a parameter for
requesting a particular time
. [...] Depending on the context, time
values may appear as a single value, a list of values, or an interval, …

Currently, only Mapserver supports WMS-T but the Geoserver team is working on it.


MapServer 4.4 and above provides support to interpret the TIME parameter and transform the resulting values into appropriate requests.

Time attributes are specified within the metadata section:

"wms_title" "Earthquakes"
"wms_timeextent" "2011-06-01/2011-07-01"
"wms_timeitem" "TIME"
"wms_timedefault" "2011-06-10 12:10:00"

Mapserver supports temporal queries for single values, multiple values, single range values or even multiple range values:

...&TIME=2011-06-10, 2004-10-13, 2011-06-19&...
...&TIME=2011-06-10/2011-06-15, 2011-06-20/2011-06-25&...


GeoSolutions has developed support for TIME and ELEVATION dimensions in WMS.
There are plans to backport this feature to the stable 2.1.x series after the 2.1.1 release.

Configuration of time-enabled layers can be done via the normal user interface:

The following video by GeoSolutions demonstrates the use of Geoserver’s WMS-T:

Both server solutions seem to support only one time attribute per layer. An optional second time attribute would be nice to support datasets with start and end time like Time Manager for QGIS does.

Picking a Feature’s Attribute Value From a WMS Layer With OpenLayers

There are many nice examples out there of how to use a getFeatureInfo request in OpenLayers to display a feature’s attribute table. In some applications it can be useful though not to display the full attribute table but to only select one attribute value from it and output it somewhere, e.g. in a text field.

This post describes how to pick the road id from a road wms layer and write the id value into a text input field.

OpenLayers offers a convenient class to achieve this: OpenLayers.Control.WMSGetFeatureInfo.

Let’s create an object of this class, register and activate it:

roadidPicker = new OpenLayers.Control.WMSGetFeatureInfo({
                url: 'http://localhost:8080/geoserver/wms',
                title: 'identify features on click',
                layers: [wms],
                queryVisible: true
roadidPicker.infoFormat = 'application/vnd.ogc.gml';"getfeatureinfo", this, pickRoadid);

Now, every time the user clicks onto the map, a getFeatureInfo request is issued and the function pickRoadid() is called. In pickRoadid(), we’ll define which value we want to pick from the feature. The ‘id’ of the feature will be written into a text input field called ‘roadId’:

function pickRoadid(e) {
  if (e.features && e.features.length) {
     var val = e.features[0];
     document.getElementById('roadId').value = val;

You might have noticed the ‘[0]‘. That’s because the click event comes with a list of features within the reach of the mouse click. For my application, I can only use one value and the first feature in this list is as good as any.

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