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Latest comment: 15 years ago by Danorton in topic Wikiatlas vs. Wikimaps

While I like the idea of the locator globe on w:Japan, I think the country should be highlighted with a better visible color. Everything is already in shades of blue; make the country pink or something. --Axel

IMHO the basic question is: Should we use an existing service, or create one of our own (


Just about all wikis that are hosted by WikiMedia are a reference source. An Atlas is a reference source too. I think this is a very good idea and should become a wiki.

Existing Service[edit]

+Implementation is much easier
+Could be up'n'running soon
-dependency on that service
-may not offer all the options we want[edit]

+Customizable for our own purposes
+Fast response times
+All maps would be under the same license as wikipedia
-Need for extensive programming
-Need for raw data

Some thoughts:

  • We could use an existing service in the beginning, but should definitely make one of our own.
  • All data will be (basically) lists of geographic coordinates, with names (e.g., a city name), types ("city","ocean",...), detail levels (continents, countries, counties,...), categories (political, geographical, geological,...)
  • This data could actually be stored in wiki texts! Anyone could participate in building and improving the database.

Magnus Manske 15:11 Nov 6, 2002 (UTC)

Is SVG under consideration? SVG is an XML-based vector graphic language. Wikipedia would need to create their own 'atlas DTD' based on a subset of the SVG DTD. I think SVG could address most of the technical issues of wikipediaatlas. -- Sydhart

I'm not quite sure how SVG would fit in. Could you elaborate? --Brion VIBBER 07:53 Dec 2, 2002 (UTC)
Because SVG is XML, it's capable of storing ALL map data, including graphic lines and regions, and also political, geologic survey, demographic and any other type of data one could possibly wish to display on a map. Given XML's DB like properties, SVG can be both the storage and display format. For example, if an SVG map is downloaded from within an HTML page (like an image or flash object), standard browser javascripting can be used to scale, zoom, move, and toggle different layers (e.g. switch from a political view to a population density view, etc.). SVG is basically an open version of Macromedia Flash. Free plug-ins are available now, and future versions of most web browsers will be able to display SVG natively. A server side SVG-to-PNG facility could accommodate users without the plugin or native SVG ability.-- Sydhart
How do you plan to organize the data? Fairly detailed land/water outlines take up dozens or hundreds of megabytes by themselves; on top of this we have political divisions, labels, demographic data, and who knows what else. We need to be able to extract just the appropriate portion for the map we want to display (if we're showing East Timor, we don't need the fjords of Norway or Tierra del Fuego) with enough detail to look good but not too much to work with (if we're showing a thumbnail of a whole continent, we don't need features that significantly smaller than a pixel), adjusted for the desired map projection, and we need to be able to generate and send the data to users relatively quickly. --Brion VIBBER 09:36 Dec 2, 2002 (UTC)
Perhaps we could use something similar to techniques used in first-person perspective games that keep object definitions using multiple levels of detail e.g. high, medium and low resolution sets of data. In games the high resolution set is used when close to an object and the low resolution is used when far away. In an atlas, we could use the high resolution when zoomed in or when large maps are required, and the low resolution when zoomed out or for thumbnails. The medium and low resolution sets could be auto generated from the high resolution set (which is the one actually edited by wikipedians). In games one scene could need data from all sets simultaneously; in an atlas we would only need to use one set for any one map. Also, the data for each area (country perhaps, or maybe a lower level, of different levels for different features) could be kept in a separate set, and a specific map would then only query those sets needed for the map, using a clipping technique to determine which sets to use (also similar to techniques used in games to only render objects in front of the person). So a small map of the world would use many low resolution sets, a large map of a city would use one high resolution set. We could increase performance by increasing the number of resolutions to 4 or 5 or whatever, which reduces the size of the lower resolution sets. ~ Nanobug 16:40, 29 Jun 2004 (UTC)

We can do both things. Use now existing (coordinates) maps and if there is not a free wikimap service, create SVG wikiatlas in the future.

This is important for open GPS maps ( for traffic and be used in cities, i.e.).

The Cartographic Congress is a a meeting of maps and mapmakers from all corners of cartography which is taking place in Limehouse, London from Sunday May 11 to Sunday June 15, 2003. Emerging from the conference is a proposal to establish an open source geographic information system. All wikipedians welcome.

We have been looking into using an asymetric spheroid reference system. Harry Potter

Would it be possible to include physical and political information in maps by degrees? (e.g. political level 5 gives countries, subnational bounries, major cities, and more minor cities, and physical level 2 gives major mountain ranges and rivers)

In my (humble) opinion, it would be more interesting to develop a stand-alone application, so contributor can create the maps tehy need, and upload them as an image or SVG file. This should preserve the servers from create the maps. I think save server calculation time should be our major concern since it could the major threat for Wikipedia in the next years. Traroth 09:37, 15 Sep 2003 (UTC)

A standalone application would need data to work from. The full-resolution satellite map of the world, for instance, is about 2.6 gigabytes uncompressed (fits on a CD if compressed with bzip2; would be a bit smaller if you jpeg'd the pieces). You could fudge this by using lower-resolution versions where possible and downloading chunks on demand, but it's still likely to be problematic for anyone without broadband. On top of that you've got to worry about distributing the software in an easy-to-install package that works on several major operating systems.
What's being discussed is that mapping would be done on its own server, separate from Wikipedia's main servers, so it wouldn't bog us down. --Brion VIBBER 21:57, 17 Sep 2003 (UTC)

Just in case some one takes this up again, whatever the tool, as a user I would stress :

  • ease of use
  • freedom

Occasionally I add maps when writing about battles. The maps are very crude, and saying they could use improvement is an understatement. However, with little time on my hands, I am not gonna spend hours and hours on learning a new set of markup tags/ids/tricks/definitions.

I also need freedom, arrows have already been mentioned, but there are numerous other military symbols too. TeunSpaans 14:41, 6 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Wikipediatlas has to begin, topographic, streets, every features from atlas, and features (including all place names) will be put on When is this gonna start? Pumpie 16:38, Mar 1, 2004 (UTC)


Wikiatlas is very better!

Both geographical and historical!

Portuguese: Que tal sugerirmos criar um Wikiatlas aqui nesse projeto? Este incluiria tanto mapas geográficos quanto históricos! O que vocês acham? --Jaques O. Carvalho 07:11, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I myself like the ring of Wikimaps. It also then hints at including not just a world atlas, but maps of all sorts: fictional, historical, projected, economic, space, etc. I think an online wiki-based map project would be really cool. Although, now that I think of it, many fictional and other types of maps that never change and are related to a topic may be better off at Wikipedia. -

If this is a discussion of what to name the program, then I would suggest Wikiatlas, because to me an online "map" generator reminds me of Google Maps and MapQuest, which are road map/directions generators. An atlas sponsored by Wikimedia would be best centered on physical maps, with mountains, rivers and the like, and probably political maps too. The name should help reflect that. -- 23:11, 6 June 2006 (UTC)Reply

Has there been any more news about this project? I feel it is very important to the future of geographical and historical articles on Wikipedia.... but I'm not a programmer! I also think someone should register wikiatlas(org/net/com) pretty quickly. -- Chuq 03:35, 10 Sep 2004 (UTC)

We already have registered but the name does not matter that much. I try to summarize efforts at Wikimaps -- Nichtich 19:33, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)


Yeah how does this page relate to Wikimaps? Is it just an different idea for the name of the project? This should be clearly stated at the top of the page -- Harry Wood 10:21, 19 May 2007 (UTC)Reply

Clean up discussions[edit]

This Wikiatlas page is full of discussion. Discussion should be moved to this talk page. Are there any hard facts or decided goals to state about this 'project' or is it just a bunch of discussions? -- Harry Wood 10:21, 19 May 2007 (UTC)Reply

The Digital Earth[edit]

Google Maps Integration[edit]

Use Google Maps. It could be an opportunity for Wikipedia and Google to establish a stronger relationship. Eventually Google might integrate our data into the maps themselves to do things like (for example), plot the home town/birthplace of a celebrity based on wikipedia links into a location article. Both Google and Wikipedia could benefit from such a partnership. Just my $0.02.

Wikiatlas vs. Wikimaps[edit]

An atlas contains named places with summary descriptions. A map displays coordinate locations.

I'd like to see the non-notable place names removed from the Wikipedias and put into this atlas. Of course, notable places would be listed here, too, with links to the corresponding Wikimedia articles. Danorton 05:59, 9 October 2008 (UTC)Reply