Atlas of Switzerland Goes Online and 3D—Concept, Architecture and Visualization Methods

  • René SieberEmail author
  • Marianna Serebryakova
  • Raimund Schnürer
  • Lorenz Hurni
Part of the Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography book series (LNGC)


Interactive atlas systems are products of high cartographic quality and user-targeted functionality. The main challenge for future digital atlases will be to incorporate the new trends of 3D mapping, online and mobile applications into atlas design. The Atlas of Switzerland, an example of a mature digital atlas, tries to advance these trends together with existing atlas functions in its next version. Starting with the concept of an online 3D atlas, this article explains the architectural implications of an atlas based on a virtual globe engine. By embedding the globe in a modern graphical user interface and implementing cartographic 3D visualizations, it is intended to strengthen the position of the atlas against other online mapping services.


National atlas Web cartography 3D visualization 


  1. Atlas of Switzerland 3 (2010): Atlas der Schweiz/Atlas de la Suisse/Atlante della Svizzera/Atlas of Switzerland 3. DVD, Swiss federal office of topography, WabernGoogle Scholar
  2. Bär HR, Sieber R (2007) Atlas of Switzerland—multimedia version: concepts, functionality and interactive techniques. In: Proceedings of the 23rd international cartographic conference. StockholmGoogle Scholar
  3. Bleisch S (2011) Toward appropriate representations of quantitative data in virtual environments. Cartographica 46(4):252–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bleisch S, Dykes J, Nebiker S (2008) Evaluating the effectiveness of representing numeric information through abstract graphics in 3D desktop virtual environments. Cartographic J 45(3):216–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bodum L (2002) 3D mapping for Urban and regional planning. In: URISA 2002 annual conference proceedings and exposition proceedings. ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  6. Chesnokova O, Buffat R, Sieber R, Hurni L (2015) Depicting settlement development—extraction and visualization workflow. In: Proceedings of the 27th international cartographic conference. Rio de JaneiroGoogle Scholar
  7. Cozzi P, Ring K (2011) 3D engine design for virtual globes. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  8. Häberling C, Bär HR, Hurni L (2008) Proposed cartographic design principles for 3D maps: A contribution to an extended cartographic theory. Cartographica 43(3):175–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Häberling C, Hurni L, Sieber R, Bär HR (2007) Modern interactive multimedia atlas information systems. Annual report 2007. Department of Civil, Environment and Geomatic Engineering, ETH ZurichGoogle Scholar
  10. Harrower M (2009) Virtual globes are a seriously bad idea for thematic mapping. Accessed 10 Mar 2016
  11. Hurni L, Sieber R, Eichenberger R, Hollenstein L, Odden B (2011) Atlas der Schweiz Konzept 2012-2020. Institut für Kartografie und Geoinformation, ETH ZürichGoogle Scholar
  12. Hurni L, Sieber R, Chesnokova O, Räber S (2015) Mountain cartography in the Atlas of Switzerland—looking back on 15 years of development. In: Kriz K (ed) Wiener Schriften zur Geographie und Kartographie, vol 21. Band, pp 121–130Google Scholar
  13. Luebke DP, Reddy M, Cohen JD, Varshney A, Watson B, Huebner R (2003) Level of detail for 3D graphics. Morgan Kaufmann Publishing, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  14. Pasewald S (2012) Towards comprehensible digital 3D maps. In: Jobst M (ed) Service-Oriented Mapping 2012. JOBSTMedia, Vienna, pp 261–276Google Scholar
  15. Pelican Mapping (2013) osgEarth—a C++ Geospatial SDK. Features & Symbology. Accessed 8 Oct 2015
  16. Schnürer R, Eichenberger R, Sieber R (2014) Creating styles, legends, and charts for 3D maps. A Mashup of D3.js, osgEarth, and the chromium embedded framework. Poster, AutoCarto, PittsburghGoogle Scholar
  17. Schnürer R, Eichenberger R, Sieber R, Hurni L (2015) 3D charts—taxonomy and implementation in a virtual globe. In: Proceedings of the 27th international cartographic conference. Rio de JaneiroGoogle Scholar
  18. Semmo A, Trapp M, Jobst M, Döllner J (2015) Cartography-oriented design of 3D geospatial information visualization-overview and techniques. Cartographic J 52(2):95–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Shneiderman B (1996) The eyes have it: a task by data type taxonomy for information visualizations. Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  20. Sieber R, Geisthövel R, Hurni L (2009) Atlas of Switzerland 3—a decade of exploring interactive Atlas cartography. In: Proceedings of the 24th international cartographic conference. Santiago de ChileGoogle Scholar
  21. Sieber R, Schnürer R, Eichenberger R, Hurni L (2013) The power of 3D real-time visualization in Atlases—concepts, techniques and implementation. In: Proceedings of the 26th international cartographic conference. DresdenGoogle Scholar
  22. Sieber R, Schnürer R, Eichenberger R, Hurni L (2015) Designing graphical user interfaces for 3D Atlases. In: Proceedings of the 27th international cartographic conference. Rio de JaneiroGoogle Scholar
  23. Vozenilek V (2015) Aspects of the thematic Atlas compilation. In: Brus J, Vondrakova A, Vozenilek V (eds) Modern trends in cartography, selected papers of CARTOCON 2014. Lecture notes in geoinformation and cartography. Springer, Cham, pp 3–12Google Scholar
  24. White, TM (2012) Evaluating the effectiveness of thematic mapping on virtual globes. PhD thesis, University of KansasGoogle Scholar
  25. Wilkening J, Fabrikant SI (2013) How users interact with a 3D geo-browser under time pressure. Cartography Geogr Inf Sci 40(1):40–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • René Sieber
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marianna Serebryakova
    • 1
  • Raimund Schnürer
    • 1
  • Lorenz Hurni
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Cartography and GeoinformationETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations