If you use Woolpert's SmartView Connect web tool, you may be wondering how it works with STREAM:RASTER, and if that changes any of your work flows.
What are SmartView Connect and STREAM:RASTER?
SmartView Connect (SVC) is Woolpert's online mapping platform (https://maps.woolpert.com). Woolpert staff and customers primarily use SVC to review orthoimagery and other geospatial datasets Woolpert produces for quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) purposes. Because customers use SVC mostly during the pre-delivery phase of their contract with Woolpert, it has a robust set of data review tools built in. For example, a customer can log in, see their in-progress data, mark-up the imagery as needed, and trust that Woolpert technical staff will make any adjustments.
You can learn more about SVC on the Guide: https://maps.woolpert.com/guide/.
STREAM:RASTER (https://www.woolpert.com/stream-raster) is Woolpert's high performance raster tile service. Customers provide raster data to Woolpert, or hire Woolpert to collect and create raster datasets like digital orthophotos, and we load that into STREAM:RASTER. STREAM:RASTER processes those raster files into a tile cache that is served to GIS and web mapping software as OGC WMTS tiles.
You can see a demo of STREAM:RASTER at https://demo.raster.stream.woolpert.io.
In Q2 2020 SmartView Connect is Transitioning to STREAM:RASTER
SmartView Connect has been a self-contained and highly successful solution for ten years and we plan on supporting and improving it for the foreseeable future.
Today, SmartView Connect uses on-premises infrastructure to turn raster data into tile caches to display quickly in a web map. We have a compute cluster in Woolpert's data center that does this work. The cache-generation part of SmartView Connect is what we're moving from the on-premises solution to STREAM:RASTER.
You can read more about the technical migration if you're interested in what a hybrid cloud solution looks like.
How does SmartView Connect depend on STREAM:RASTER?
So SmartView Connect will rely on STREAM:RASTER. What does that mean exactly? Let's dig in.
Raster datasets are big. For example, a 3 inch resolution dataset covering an average county in the state of Ohio in the United States is about 800 gigabytes (GB). It's not practical to serve those huge files live via a web application like SVC. Woolpert's solution for SVC was to built a raster image tiling engine that pre-slices and pre-generates a shows data to Woolpert clients during their quality control process.
Let's describe the publishing process for SVC as a way of describing how that works in practice:
- Woolpert has a candidate set of raster files to share with a customer for review in the SVC app.
- Woolpert pushes those raster files, e.g., 500 GB of GeoTIFF files, up to a cloud storage location that STREAM:RASTER can see.
- As soon as the first GeoTIFF lands in the cloud storage 'bucket' STREAM:RASTER starts to process that into a pyramided tile scheme.
- NOTE: This collection of small, pre-rendered image files in a hierarchical structure are commonly called a tile cache.
- Once STREAM:RASTER has finished building the tile cache, Woolpert publishes that as a new Dataset is the SVC admin tool. The data are now view as an OGC WMTS service in the SVC web map.
- The customer can now log in to SVC and see their raster data for review.
The customer is not viewing the original data that Woolpert's technicians created: they are looking at a high quality tile cache of that original data. And because SVC is pulling that tiled raster data via STREAM:RASTER, it's really fast and has a service level agreement for reliability.
How does that affect current SmartView Connect users?
The short answer is that everything still works the same, just faster! But there are nuances. Here are some common questions about the transition, along with answers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I'm a Woolpert customer who wants to review data in SVC. Is anything different for me?
A: Nope. It's exactly the same app, same tools, same process. The only thing you'll see different is that the landing page for maps.woolpert.com now has a STREAM:RASTER logo on it.
Q: Are the markup tools changing?
A: No, the QA/QC markup tools remain unchanged.
Q: I'm a Woolpert customer and I like how fast SVC works. Can I use the data in SVC in my existing GIS apps?
A: Absolutely! Remember that the tiled raster aren't really "in" SVC, they're actually stored in STREAM:RASTER. So talk to your Woolpert Project Director and ask them how to sign up for a STREAM:RASTER subscription. Your data is already in STREAM:RASTER so it's really just a case of signing up for the service.
Q: I'd like an offline copy of the data that Woolpert is sharing with me via SmartView Connect. Can I download it?
A: Depending on your contract with Woolpert, you may already be getting a full offline copy of the original raster data. Typically this will be shipped to you on a hard drive, or may be shared electronically via a cloud transfer or FTP.
Neither SmartView Connect nor STREAM:RASTER have a capability to let you download the source data, because what they store is the derived tile cache, NOT the original raster data.
Q: In the past Woolpert has provided me with alternative map cache formats like ArcGIS Server tile caches. Can STREAM:RASTER or SmartView Connect export that format?
A: No. We use an entirely different format. If you need an ArcGIS tile cache--or really any other format--we recommend that you generate it yourself so that it meets your exact needs. If that's difficult or impossible for you, talk with your Woolpert Project Director to determine if Woolpert can do that for you as a one-off consulting engagement.
Q: In the past, Woolpert has enabled a WMS endpoint for me to stream my data directly from SmartView Connect. Is that still possible with this switch to STREAM:RASTER?
A: No *. During the Q2 2020 transition from the existing on-premises SmartView Connect tiling service to the STREAM:RASTER SaaS platform, this may be possible. But because SmartView Connect doesn't not come with a service level agreement (SLA) nor any guarantees about performance or reliability, we STRONGLY recommend that you consider adopting WMTS as your web- and desktop mapping protocol.
WMS is inherently less scalable and less performant than WMTS. We do not currently plan on supporting WMS as a protocol for STREAM:RASTER precisely because of these performance concerns.
* Note: if you have an existing agreement with Woolpert for us to provide a WMS endpoint to consume your data, please get in touch with your Woolpert Project Director to discuss options.
We hope that this review of what the transition of SmartView Connect from an on-premises backend to the STREAM:RASTER SaaS solution helps you understand the impacts. Woolpert feels strongly that the net benefits are overwhelmingly and almost exclusively positive. The only potential perceived feature gap is in the support of WMS in SVC that will not be ported to the STREAM:RASTER product. And that is for the performance reasons we describe above.