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Web Map Service

Retrieve map data from Web Map Service (WMS) servers

Web Map Service (WMS) servers provide publicly accessible geospatial data such as temperature, elevation, weather, orthoimagery, and demographics from web-based sources. The servers follow a standard developed by the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc.® (OGC). Use WMS functions to search a database of server URLs, server titles, layer names, and layer titles and to read WMS data from servers.

This figure shows a WMS map of tropospheric ozone impacts from the NASA SVS Image Server, ETOPO1 data from NOAA, and Blue Marble: Next Generation imagery from the NASA SVS Image Server.

Examples of WMS maps


wmsfindSearch local database for Web map servers and layers
wmsinfoInformation about WMS server from capabilities document
wmsreadRetrieve WMS map from server
wmsupdateSynchronize WMSLayer object with server


WebMapServerWeb map server
WMSCapabilities Web Map Service capabilities document
WMSLayer Web Map Service layer
WMSMapRequest Web Map Service map request


Create WMS Maps

Basic WMS Terminology

Learn about common terms encountered when working with Web Map Service (WMS), such as layers, capabilities documents, and WMS servers.

Basic Workflow for Creating WMS Maps

To create a WMS map, search the WMS Database for servers and layers, request the most recent data associated with a layer, and display the data.

Create WMS Maps when Internet Access is Intermittent

This example shows how to create and save WMS maps, while accounting for intermittent Internet access, by reading saved WMS maps from a file.

Search for Layers

Explore Layers on Same Server

Once you find a layer you like in the WMS Database, you can search the same WMS server for similar layers.

Search for Layers Outside the WMS Database

This example shows how to search for layers outside the WMS Database by using a search engine in your web browser.

Display Layers

Overlay Multiple Layers

These examples show how to merge multiple layers, including mixed vector and raster formats, into a single raster map.

Add Legend to WMS Map

This example shows how to download a legend from a WMS server and add it to a WMS map.

Animate Data Layers

These examples show how to create maps of the same geographic region at different times and view them as a movie.

Display Animation of Radar Images over GOES Backdrop

This example shows how to display a movie of radar images collected once per hour over a backdrop.

Read WMS Maps and Data

Modify Your Map Request

This example shows how to modify the geographic extent and time of the requested map.

Read WMS Maps Using Different Coordinate Reference Systems

This example shows how to read WMS maps using Web Mercator coordinates.

Read Data From WMS Server

These examples show how to retrieve actual data instead of an image from a WMS server.

Export WMS Layers

Write WMS Layers to KML File

This example shows how to render a map in a non-image format such as KML.


Troubleshoot WMS Servers

Learn about connection errors and other common WMS server errors, and suggested workarounds.

Featured Examples