Express Server v8 Simplifies Geospatial Data Distribution

10 Oct, 2012 By: Cyrena Respini-Irwin

LizardTech has updated its Express Server software, which enables delivery and publication of geospatial data such as high-resolution imagery and LIDAR (light detection and ranging) data. The version 8 release features a new graphical user interface (GUI), called Express Server Manager, and support for Geospatial PDF files. The company is also offering a free 30-day trial of the product — a first for Express Server.

"Express Server is designed to make it easier to distribute and view large datasets over an Internet connection," said Jon Skiffington, LizardTech's director of product management. That applies to both high- and low-bandwidth networks; not everyone working with high-resolution imagery has the luxury of doing so in an office. Skiffington pointed to the field environments commonly encountered by the company's defense customers and oil-and-gas personnel, noting, "You may get a slow cell phone connection and that's it."

Simplified Interface

"Our customers tend to be very technical, but within their area of expertise ... administering a server is not their forte," Skiffington noted. With the new Express Server Manager GUI, users can manage their Express Server software from any Internet-enabled location without running command-line utilities or editing XML files. They can quickly set Express Server’s properties, configure catalogs, and create catalog groups from within the GUI.

The Express Server Manager also speeds the process of publishing data. "With this new interface, it takes less than one minute to put my imagery online," said Skiffington. "Compared to what it used to be like, it's literally ten times faster to get the imagery out there."

The Express Server Manager, Express Server's new graphical user interface, simplifies the process of configuring and managing image catalogs.

Also new with this release is support for Geospatial PDF as a source image format. "Geospatial PDFs have become very common because they're relatively lightweight and anybody can open them," said Skiffington. Express Server also supports JPEG 2000, NITF, and MG4, the latest version of LizardTech's MrSID file format.

Bigger Isn't Always Better

"Multi-terabyte datasets are the name of the game these days," Skiffington observed. "[However,] these datasets are not much good if you can't access them."

To better manage unreasonably large images, Express Server sends only a relevant portion — called a scene — out to the client. The client can select the size and content of the scene. For mobile applications, the user can download that scene to a laptop, tablet computer, or smartphone. "It's perfect for going into the field," said Skiffington.

In testing the most common scene size, a 512 x 512 square, LizardTech found that the software's response time was less than 0.5 second for 1 user, and about double that when 15 users accessed the same scene simultaneously.

Express Server is available as a standalone product or as part of LizardTech's Express Suite, which also includes GeoExpress software for imagery manipulation and compression. If the user proceeds with purchase after using the trial version, the trial copy becomes licensed, preserving any customizations the user made during the trial period. "Everything that you set up stays there," Skiffington confirmed.

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