The Atlas of Tyrol

A database-driven map application based on SVG

The Department of Geography at the University of Innsbruck created an extensive regional atlas with about 100 sheets and 200 maps in the period from 1969 to 1999. The work on a new, timely version goes on within the framework of an EU-InterReg-IIIA project in which the country of Tyrol (Austria) and the province Bolzano (Italy) are taking part. The Read-Only-Medium CD-Rom is skipped to focus exclusively on a database driven Internet variant. Printed papers will be derived and published on separate deepening subjects. Project period is 2001 to 2007.

Isolated SVG map interfaces were created since 1999, which could be suitable for smaller atlases. However, they are often based on JavaScript and mostly do not use databases for thematic data and geometry. For reasons of data security and data amount this will be necessary with the Atlas of Tyrol. Three areas with partly unresolved problems appear in addition to the questions of general interface design:

  1. Geographic geometry and database: which databases are applicable at all, how far can  they approach GIS functionality?
  2. Sequential or anticipated loading of geometry in zoom and pan context: which parts of the geometry should when be delivered to the client to keep transfer volume as low as possible?
  3. Presentation of thematic data: how can one inform extensively without making all data nearly freely available to the public? Where are the limits of complex thematic cartographic representation on screen and what alternatives do we have?
For the presentation we will limit ourselves to point 1, within the framework of the discussion we may also focus on 2 or 3 if desired.

There is only a hand full of possible databases for Internet server usage, and only a few GIS-packages that allow server application. The first ones generally cannot handle geographic data; the second ones have a too restricted software and hardware architecture. Both cannot handle SVG or even Béziers directly. Therefore, it is necessary to find out which database most closely fulfills the following demands:


  1. Geographic data management
  2. Clipping, blending etc. within the DB
  3. Control of elements to be reloaded on client side zoom and pan events
  4. Fundamental flexibility and low total price level
The results of the tests are compared concerning these criteria; besides, we will also focus on the necessary communication with the client.

Klaus Förster is Webmaster at the Department of Geography (University of Innsbruck), since 1995 cartographer at the Atlas of Tyrol and was therefore already occupied with the production of the first version. André M. Winter created the first attempt of an SVG-Atlas in the middle of 2000 at the University of Vienna. After one year in the multimedia and CD production branch at Freytag & Berndt Vienna he again returned to an SVG-project. Both are now members of the editorial staff of the Atlas of Tyrol.