GIS Technology

OS Mastermap meets Google Earth

MasterMap meets Google Earth

Thanks to Eddie and Ian at Snowflake who have written a plugin to their Go Publisher product, it is now possible to view, rather flat, Mastermap topo data in google earth – the secret behind the scenes here is our old friend GML.

It was relatively easy for the guys a Snowflake (it took a weekend) to write the schema translation to translate form the mastermap application schema of GML to the KML (Keyhole Markup Language) xml used by Google Earth.

So now all we need to do is find out a way to height the Mastermap building polygons…

For more examples of the value of xml to the GI industry, if you are in the UK towards the end of September, the AGI Technical SIG event on XML and GIS to be held at the Centre for Geospatial Science, Nottingham University on 22nd September will be a very valuable event.

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.

4 replies on “OS Mastermap meets Google Earth”

Hi Ed,

Publishing GIS data into KML does provide a very cool way of visualizing it. We made a available a KML plugin for our FME product a couple of weeks ago (see for details) — it can take data from any GIS format (including MasterMap) and output it to KML. Some of our early adopters are doing great things with this — one of them had buildling heights for his data and the results are very impressive. We hope to be able to showcase this soon. I’m on vacation now in Switzerland and am carting around a GPS on all my hikes — when I get home I plan to publish my trip as a set of KMLs, possibly with links to relevant photos in them. High geek potential.

One interesting thing is that the registration is almost never “on” on the sets I’ve seen, but on the other hand, maybe for Google Earth visualization purposes close is good enough.

Hi Dale,

Hope Switzerland in fun, I know what you are saying about the registration issues we have seen them also with OS data.


Your ‘throwaway’ about heighting the MM polygons highlights a curious anomaly. In general OSGB’s provision of framework data and services equals or surpasses those of its peers, with the exception of 3D vector data. There are third party projects such as Qinetiq’s enAble3D and UCL’s 3D city models for Virtual London but no OS product or general coverage. By contrast there is much activity and availabilty in Europe. Once again GML/XML is the ‘ubiquitous enabler’. The lead in the relevant GML profile (CityGML – see is coming from Europe. Incidentally Snowflake’s Go Publisher also supports CityGML.
Can we expect any OS provision of 3D vector and model data sometime? Probably not the forum to ask the question, but your remark does rather ask for it!

Peter Woodsford


At some point I’m sure the OS will provide a height attribute to MasterMap topo data but as yet we have not announced any plans to do so, or given any timeframe.

It is quite a major data capture exercise to do this consistently for the whole country.


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