Marine Geoscience Data System

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GeoMapApp

GeoMapApp Frequently-Asked Questions

                           FAQ page last updated in February 2017

Citing GeoMapApp

Tutorials

Problems Installing GeoMapApp

Menus

Map window, base map, and map appearance

Importing Data

Export Functions

Internet Speed

Data Point Symbols

External Data Sets

Save Session

Miscellaneous Functionality

Web Feature Services (WFS)

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Citing GeoMapApp

How do I cite GeoMapApp?
Please give the URL to the GeoMapApp web page and/or cite the use of the underlying base map: the Global Multi-Resolution Topography (GMRT) synthesis. (See GMRT citation details, GMRT web page, see GMRT published article).

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Tutorials

Are there any tutorials to help get me started?
Yes! They are on our GeoMapApp channel YouTube GeoMapApp Channel

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Problems Installing GeoMapApp

Installation on Mac OS 10.11 (El Capitan) fails. How should I fix it?
Some users reported problems starting GeoMapApp under Mac OS X El Capitan version 10.11. The following two-pronged approach fixes the issue: First, ensure that the latest El Capitan bug fixes have been installed. Next, delete your .GMA file (see step-by-step notes here), and restart GeoMapApp. It should now work.

I was told to delete my .GMA folder. How do I do that?
On a PC: Use a Windows navigator window to navigate to your home directory. Look for a folder called ".GMA" (dot GMA), and delete it.
On a Mac: The hidden folder called ".GMA" (dot GMA) is not shown in the Finder. Instead, it must be found using a terminal window, as follows.
In the Finder, go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal.app. A terminal window should appear.
To get a list of all files (the ".GMA" folder should be listed), type: ls -a
To remove the folder, type: rm -r .GMA
To be sure it is gone, type: ls -a
Re-start GeoMapApp.

Installation on my Mac OS 10.8 or 10.9 does not work. How should I start GeoMapApp?
Recent versions of Mac OS X use a security feature that may temporarily stop you from running GeoMapApp. Following this step-by-step guide should solve the problem.

Should I download and install GeoMapApp or run WebStart?
Downloading and installing GeoMapApp on your local machine is preferred but sometimes that might not be possible. For example, machines in a school computer lab may allow only an administrator to install programs. So, we provide a browser-based WebStart function to start GeoMapApp. The WebStart function requires that the browser is Java-enabled but a recent Java security issue was accompanied with an official recommendation to disable Java within browsers. If WebStart does not work, it is likely that Java was disabled in your web browser, but you can still run GeoMapApp by downloading it to your computer.

The default Mac download of GeoMapApp is bundled with Java. Why?
For people with Mac computers, the Java-bundled download of GeoMapApp helps to simplify installation issues for some users. The bundled version requires about 160 MBytes of disk space. An unbundled version is available here.

GeoMapApp requires me to upgrade to Java 7 or newer on my Mac. How do I do that?
The latest version of GeoMapApp requires your machine to have Java 7 or newer. Follow this Java upgrade step-by-step guide to obtain a suitable version.

I don't want to upgrade my Mac to Java 7 or newer. Can I still run GeoMapApp?
Yes but you will need to run an older version of GeoMapApp - version 3.4.1 or older. Past versions can be downloaded here.

Will GeoMapApp run on a Chromebook?
Yes but you may need to to go through the following steps: (1) Install Crouton which in turn will install the Ubuntu version of Linux. 2) Install Java. 3) Install GeoMapApp. We tested that in a virtual Chrome OS environment and it worked fine.

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Menus

How often are new data sets added to GeoMapApp?
The built-in data sets are updated and expanded continuously. Recently-added data sets are listed here.

How do I search the menus?
In most of the top-level GeoMapApp menus, the first item is "Click for Searchable Tear-Off menus". When clicked, a separate navigation window pops up and at the top of the window is a simple text-based search box. Type in some text (e.g. "Mantle Bouguer Anomaly") and hit return. All menu items containing that term will be highlighted instantly. Note that the search function uses a simple text string pattern-matching scheme so if you are not sure exactly how something may be labelled, keep the search word fairly general (e.g. "bouguer" or "gravity") instead of trying to be too specific.

Does the menu search only apply to the displayed map area?
No, it searches the entire GeoMapApp menu structure for the whole world. So, you may get some matches for data sets that lie outside the displayed map region.

Did the menus structure change?
In version 3.6.0, released in October 2015, the Basemaps and Datasets menus that had been present in earlier versions of GeoMapApp were merged into one new DataLayers menu. The consolidated DataLayers menu allows the many built-in data sets to be arranged more intuitively and managed more efficiently. The older menu structure has been frozen, is no longer maintained, and is accessible only by using older versions of GeoMapApp.

The menus disappeared. How do I get them back?
In rare instances the menus bar disappears. This behaviour is related to an interrupted internet connection in which only a partial set of menus was downloaded. The partial menus must be removed to make way for a complete set. Try the following steps:

  1. Close GeoMapApp. Check that you have a reliable internet connection.
  2. Find and remove the .GMA/menus_cache folder:
    On a PC: Use a Windows navigator window to navigate to your home directory. Look for a folder called ".GMA" (dot GMA). Navigate into the .GMA folder. Delete the "menus_cache" folder.
    On a Mac: The hidden folder called ".GMA" (dot GMA) is not shown in the Finder. Instead, it must be found using a terminal window, as follows.
    In the Finder, go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal.app. A terminal window should appear.
    To get a list of all files (the ".GMA" folder should be listed), type: ls -a
    To navigate into the hidden folder, type: cd .GMA
    To remove the menu cache, type: rm -r menus_cache
    To be sure it is gone, type: ls -a
  3. Start GeoMapApp. It should take a minute or so for a fresh copy of all of the menu files to be pulled from the server.
Note that it is also possible to refresh the menus by deleting the higher-level hidden .GMA folder. However, any saved bookmarks (which are stored in .GMA/places) will be lost. So, if you plan to delete the entire .GMA folder, make sure you copy the places sub-folder first!

If the menus still do not show up, please tell us.

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Map window, base map, and map appearance

How do I return to a particular geographic area and zoom level?
If you zoomed in or out by accident, the Zoom Undo button will undo up to the four most recent zoom actions. The Zoom Undo button is located in the toolbar next to the other zoom buttons. If you wish to store a zoomed area and return to it in a future GeoMapApp session, either use the Bookmark functions listed under the Bookmarks menu or use the Session Manager to Save a Session.

Why does the displayed area not match exactly the dimensions of my bookmark?
GeoMapApp keeps the aspect ratio of the map window so a bookmarked area often has 'extra' space for padding to the window's aspect ratio.

Can I adjust the map tick marks and border annotations?
The font, font size and location of the axes labels can be changed. Go under File > Preferences.

How do I change the range of land and ocean colours displayed on the base map?
That can be done with just two steps: Load the underlying grid and then modify the color palette. This tutorial shows how.

Why do land areas provide better map detail than most parts of the ocean?
Currently, the GMRT base map contains a range of elevation data sets, including the 10m USGS NED grid for the 48 mainland US states, the 30m SRTM Japanese-US grid for the rest of the world's land elevations, and, for oceanic areas, a large number of data sets from swathmapping cruises and a wide variety of contributed bathymetry grids. About every six months, we release a new version of the base map which usually includes a few dozen additional cleaned multibeam swath cruises. Visit the GMRT web page for more details of its component data sets.

When I close GeoMapApp, I lose everything. Is there a way to "Save a Session"?
Yes! GeoMapApp includes a Session Manager function that provides a limited ability to save, store and re-use an instance of a GeoMapApp session. Saving a session captures the loaded data portals and data layers as well as the map location and zoom. When a saved session is imported, GeoMapApp automatically zooms to the pre-set map area and displays the previously-loaded data layers. That could be useful when sharing work with colleagues or students. For example, an educator could use the session functionality to enable all students to start GeoMapApp at exactly the same state. More details are given here and in the User Guide.

Is it possible to add a distance scale and color scale to a map?
Yes! In the Overlays menu, tick on the items you wish to overlay and they will appear on the map. Note that the distance scale can be dragged with the cursor to a different part of the map and that its scale is latitude-dependent: As the distance scale is dragged north or south, the scale gradations and labels are recalculated based upon the new latitude location of the scale bar. For polar projections the scale depends upon the location of the centre of the scale bar.

Can free-hand lines or shapes be drawn on the map?
That is quite a complicated function to add. Currently, we recommend that you use a graphic tool such as Adobe Illustrator, Microsoft PowerPoint or ESRI ArcGIS for that purpose.

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Importing Data

Can I import my own data?
Yes! GeoMapApp allows the following data formats to be imported: Grid files, tabular data and spreadsheets, shapefiles, images, WFS and WMS.

What formats of data files and images can be imported to GeoMapApp?

  • ASCII (text) files:
    • Tab-separated, comma-separated, pipe-separated
    • From the clipboard
    • From URL
  • Excel (tm) spreadsheets: xls and xlsx formats
  • Grids:
    • netCDF GMT v3 and v4 grids (.grd, .nf, .nc)
    • ESRI ASCII grid (.asc)
    • ESRI Binary grid (.hrd, .flt)
    • GRD98 (.G98, Big-Endian only)
    • ASCII Polar (.asc)
  • Images: JPEG, PNG, TIFF
  • simple KML / KMZ files
  • Shapefile (.shp)
  • Data tables (ASCII and Excel (tm) spreadsheets. See above).

Can a proprietary grid be viewed privately?
Yes! When you import a restricted-access grid, the grid information is stored locally on your machine only. Note that GeoMapApp will generate a set of tiling folders in the same location as the grid. They store the zoom-level information and are used for internal purposes only. If you would like to contribute a grid so that it becomes publically accessible in GeoMapApp please contact us.

Can I import multiple grids at the same time?
Yes. Place all of the grids in one folder then, in the GeoMapApp navigation window, select all of the grid files. The geographical bounds and minimum/maximum Z values are displayed in the lower part of the Confirm Projection and Bounds window. Tick the "Select to Import All Grids" box to automatically process all of the grid files. A set of tiling folders is generated in the same location as the grids. Those tiling folders are used for internal purposes only - to show the different resolutions as you zoom. If you wish to edit particular grids during import, leave the tick box empty and hit the OK button for each grid. In tests, we've successfully imported hundreds of grids at once. If you try to import a very large grid (more than a few hundred MBytes), you may need to boost the amount of memory allocated to GeoMapApp. For that, see the section below called "My grid file cannot be imported. What's wrong?". This tutorial shows how to import several grids at once.

My grid file cannot be imported. What's wrong?
GeoMapApp allows the import of various gridded formats (see list above) and the functionality has been successfully tested on a range of machines. This tutorial shows how to import a grid. If you receive an out-of-memory error or if the import process hangs, it is likely that the grid is very large. There are two approaches we can use. First, you could split the large grid into pieces. Then simply use the instructions above for importing multiple grids. The second approach is to increase the memory allocated to running GeoMapApp. The default is between 512-1024 MBytes, but more memory may be required. For that, the .jar version of GeoMapApp needs to be run from the command line. Mac and Windows users need to go the GeoMapApp Linux/Unix download page to download the GeoMapApp.jar file. Once the .jar file is available, open a terminal command window, as follows. For Windows 7 users, go to the Start menu, type "cmd" in the search box and select the "cmd" program from the list. For Windows XP users, go to the Start menu, select "Run" and in the Run window type "cmd". For Mac users, go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Terminal. In the terminal command window, change directory to the location of the GeoMapApp.jar file (if it was downloaded to your Desktop, simply type "cd Desktop"). Then, type java -jar -Xmx512m GeoMapApp.jar and press enter. The -Xmx option specifies the maximum memory that can be used by the program being run. If that still is not enough memory, try using the -Xmx1024m option. By using this memory allocation approach, grids up to 800 MBytes in size have been successfully imported to GeoMapApp. If you are trying to import one of the recognised formats but still are having problems, please tell us so that we can contact you to investigate.

When I import my tabular data set, nothing is plotted on the map and there are no records in the table beneath the map. What's wrong?
In the table below the map window, only data points that fall within the displayed map area will be listed. So, the map window may be zoomed to a different part of the world. Try zooming out (for example, by using Bookmarks > Zoom to Global Scale). Once records successfully reappear in the table beneath the map and symbols are plotted on the map, you can zoom in to that locality. Within the Layer Manager window, the zoom button will zoom automatically to an area containing all of the imported points. Of course, you can always use the zoom button in the tool bar to manually zoom in, too.

My spreadsheet cannot be imported. What should I do?
First, check that the spreadsheet is in a modern format such as Microsoft 1997-2007 or .xlsx format. The old Excel 5.0/95 (BIFF5) format is no longer supported. Second, does the spreadsheet contain any mathematical formulae? Spreadsheets containing simple formulae involving +,-,/,* should work but a complicated formula is likely to cause problems. Third, is there one column for longitude in decimal degrees and one column for latitude in decimal degrees? If the spreadsheet still cannot be imported, convert it to a tab-, comma- or pipe-separated ASCII file and use the appropriate ASCII table import option - importing the converted file has worked every time in our tests.

When I import a spreadsheet, some values jump into a neighbouring column. Can that be fixed?
That occurs when a column heading is missing. Open the original spreadsheet or data table and check that every column has a column heading. Then, try importing the corrected file.

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Export Functions

Can I save an image in high-resolution?
The resolution of a saved image depends upon the size of the GeoMapApp window on your computer screen. That is, it depends upon the number of pixels spanned by the GeoMapApp window. Consider an example in which a particular map region is displayed, in the first case, on a small laptop screen and, in the second case, in a large GeoMapApp window on a really big monitor. In this example, the image on the big monitor covers more pixels than the image on the small laptop screen. So, the image exported from big the monitor will have a much higher pixel resolution than the image saved from the laptop. So, if you need a high-resolution image, try to create it in a very large GeoMapApp window on the biggest monitor you can find. Note that the GMRT MapTool web interface also allows base maps to be generated, and offers for download grids of the base map at three progressively higher resolutions.

The resolution of downloaded grids and images is too low. How do I get higher-resolution versions?
There are typically ten or more nested levels of resolution available for the grids and images built into GeoMapApp. As you zoom in, the appropriate set of 'tiles' is accessed. The more you zoom in, the finer and finer the tiles get. The sheer number of grid and image tiles means that it has been impractical to allow users to specify their own level of resolution for download. At the extreme, one can imagine a user bringing up the world map and wishing to download the millions of tiles that form the highest level of resolution. That would take ages and would swamp the network. But, we know users require higher resolution so we added an option under File > Save Map Window as Grid/Image File called "Grid: Higher Resolution Options". Selecting that option brings up a GMRT MapTool web interface that offers a range of choices of resolution for downloading grids of the base map but note that any additional layers such as overlain data points will be lost.

I want to export a vector PDF or EPS image file. How do I create one?
That is high up on our development list. Currently, images can be exported in JPEG, PNG, KMZ and GeoTIFF formats at the resolution of the screen. Making the GeoMapApp window really big on your screen is one way to produce an image with more pixels.

Is there a way to save and share a GeoMapApp session?
There is! To promote collaboration and teaching, GeoMapApp offers a basic ability to save, share, and re-use a pre-loaded state of GeoMapApp. The Session Manager captures the loaded data layers, the layer transparency, and map view, and stores the information as a small file that can be shared with colleagues and students. When that saved session file is imported later or by someone else, GeoMapApp automatically zooms to the same area and displays the same data layers. Sharing a saved session file could be useful in, say, a classroom setting allowing all students to open GeoMapApp at exactly the same state. It could also be useful in preparing figures for publication. For more details, see this web page and the User Guide.

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Internet Speed

Sometimes, GeoMapApp is slow. Why?
The speed of GeoMapApp depends mostly upon the quality of your internet connection. At some meetings and in hotels we have often found internet connectivity to be particularly slow. If you are using a slow wireless connection, try switching to a faster network or to a wired connection.

Why is GeoMapApp not as fast as EarthObserver?
The EarthObserver application is served from "The Cloud" so users download content from the nearest cloud node. We are working on uploading GeoMapApp's content into the cloud, too.

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Data Point Symbols

Can I choose different symbols for plotting point data?
Yes! In GeoMapApp version 3.3, we added more symbols. Choose from circles, squares, triangles and stars. They are useful, for example, when viewing multiple tabular data sets that can be distinguished by using a different symbol for each. As before, the symbols can also be colored and scaled.

Is there a way to color the symbols?
Yes! Symbols can be colored in a variety of ways. They can be colored interactively using the Color button. For imported tables and spreadsheets, a specific color can be assigned to each symbol by including a column of Red,Green,Blue values in the file. For example, "250,250,0" is yellow. (Note that for some versions of Excel, you may need to format the RGB column as Text so that it is interpreted correctly by GeoMapApp.) To color all of the symbols with the same color use the Configure window options. Full details of symbol coloring are to be found in the GeoMapApp User Guide.

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External Data Sets

Does GeoMapApp link to the GEOROC database?
Soon it will do so. GEOROC content will be included in a new EarthChem WFS and we will link to that.

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Save Session

When GeoMapApp is closed, I lose everything. Is there a way to save my work?
Yes! GeoMapApp includes a Save Session function that provides a limited ability to save, store and re-use an instance of a GeoMapApp session. Saving a session captures the loaded data portals and data layers as well as the map location and zoom. When a saved session is imported, GeoMapApp automatically zooms to the pre-set map area and displays the previously-loaded data layers. Layer opacity is also preserved. That ability to store and re-use sessions could be useful when sharing work with colleagues or students. For example, an educator could use the session functionality to enable all students to start GeoMapApp at exactly the same state. See the Session Manager section in the User Guide as well as this web page for more details.

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Miscellaneous Functionality

When a grid is loaded, why does the color palette change when I zoom or pan?
The range of colors is automatically normalized to match the z-range of the grid for the region in the map window. That usually ensures a suitable range of colors regardless of the area on view. To fix the colors, you can import your own color palette file. For details on changing the colors and using customized color palettes, see this tutorial.

Can more than one profile be viewed at a time?
When generating profiles across a gridded data set only one profile window at a time is displayed. The profile can be saved in various formats. Creating a second profile line causes the first profile window to disappear and a new one to pop up. So, if you need to, say, compare multiple profiles, use the Save button to store each profile.

Why is there no Save button on the digitizer?
It's on the development list! Currently, you can save the digitised points and interpolated points by using the cursor to select the rows, capture them in the buffer (example: on a PC use ctrl-c to copy the rows), then paste them into a spreadsheet or table.

Does the distance scale overlay change with latitude?
The distance scale that is selected from the Overlays menu is latitude-dependent so changes when the scale is dragged north (up) or south (down) on the map. The scale gradations and labels change with the latitudinal position of the distance scale. For polar projections the scale depends upon the location of the centre of the scale bar.

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Web Services (WFS, WMS)

Loading a WFS is slow. Can you make it go faster?
We'd very much like to do so, and are looking into how to speed things up.

The NCEI WFS and WMS no longer connect on my Mac. Do they still work?
For Macs, GeoMapApp comes bundled with Java 7 but these NCEI web services use a protocol that requires Java 8. Until we can bundle GeoMapApp with Java 8, please access the NCEI WFS and WMS as follows. First, install Java 8 on your Mac. Then, either (a) Download and install the Linux version of GeoMapApp. Or (b) Download and install the unbundled version of GeoMapApp.

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