Map navigation and display

This section presents information about Data Catalogues, Data Workbench, Map Settings, Tools panel and general navigation tips.

The map navigation and display aims to provide you with basic understanding of what each section on home page represents and details on how to navigate current tools.

Data Catalogues

A wealth of spatial data is made available through Terria platforms from a couple of datasets to thousands. At first, the catalogues with high number of data layers can be confusing; you can go through a quick tour guide when landing on the platform for the first time.

The catalogues are produced mainly from federating data services (APIs) directly from custodians. Terria platforms rarely use own hosted datasets, default preference being harvesting from the data experts. This ensures data is kept up to date, or as updated as the custodians process a new version. By using data services (APIs), the metadata is also federated directly from custodians.

Data is organised in a multi-level structure, based on custodian's preferences, usually including Groups, Sub-groups and data layers. As platforms' developers and maintainers, we sometimes combine data harvested from different custodians in same data groups, if that makes sense for the end users. For example, the Water group in NationalMap includes data from the Bureau of Meteorology, Digital Earth Australia and Geoscience Australia.

You can find the custodians of each dataset, by checking the About Data section in the workbench.

Data added under My Data is not automatically added to the platforms' catalogues; if you wish to contribute your data to the permanent catalogue, you'll need to contact the platform owners. Their details are available on the About page.

Data Workbench

The Data Workbench is the section situated on the left hand side of the map. When no datasets are added, the Workbench is empty i.e. no datasets names, no legends, no controls for opacity etc.

Workbench is the section of the map which includes:

  • Datasets names

  • Legends

  • Filters (if supported by the data) and style selectors (if supported)

  • Tabs: Ideal Zoom, About Data, 3 dots expanding into: Remove, Compare, Difference (if supported by the data)

When a data set is added to the map via the Data Catalogue, a legend for that data set will appear at the top of the Data Workbench (pictured below). From the Data Workbench you can:

  • Set the order in which data is shown on the map. To do this, simply click on the title of a data set and drag it to a new position in your Workbench.

  • Toggle the visibility of added data sets. To do this, click on the checkbox opposite the preferred data set title.

  • Set the opacity of individual data sets.

  • Remove data sets from the map.

Note: Removed data sets can always be re-added via the Data Catalogue.

Map Settings

Moving at the top menus on the home page, you can change based maps, toggle between 2D and 3D data views, terrain availability, timeline availability if supported by the data and image optimisation designed for average performant computers.

The map settings include Show terrain and Image optimisation only in 3D mode.

When in 2D mode, the Map Settings menu includes only Base maps, Timeline and Image Optimisation.

Map view

Lets you toggle between 3D terrain, 3D smooth and 2D.

  • Select 2D to show a vertical map view with north to the top. The Gyroscope - Compass Control will not be displayed and Perspective View cannot be enabled.

  • Select 3D Smooth to show a Perspective View which has no elevation change. The maps or images are draped over a smooth globe.

  • Select 3D Terrain to show a Perspective View which shows the elevation changes in the terrain. 3D Smooth and 3D Terrain will look almost the same unless you are using Perspective View. The 3D terrain view is be default based on the Cesium World Terrain accessible via Cesium ION. Some digital twin platforms' owners use different terrains by default, in case the 3D data provided is developed using that specific terrain/DEM.

Note: 3D Terrain view may give the same result as 3D Smooth or may not work at all on some computers with older graphic cards or older web browser versions.

Show terrain

It is mostly useful when displaying underground datasets. It lets you select which side of the screen the terrain is used for. When Terrain hides underground features is clicked on, pipelines would not 'appear' on one side of the map. To use:

  1. Add underground data (e.g utilties)

  2. Click on Compare

  3. Maintain underground data only on one side of the screen

  4. On the other side of the screen, maintain usually an imagery base map

  5. Maintain Terrain position on the side of the imagery

  6. Click on Terrain hides underground features

  7. Move the split screen back and forth to see the trajectory of pipelines

Base map

Each platform has a selection of base maps available; it includes white and dark canvases for experimenting with different contrasts and types of features. The name of the base maps appears when hovering over each type. Details on licenses appear in the About page, under Data Attributions; and at the bottom of the home page.


To activate the Timeline player, you can click on "Timeline - Always show" and if supported by the data selected (i.e. is a timeseries data), it will show a timeline with play commands at the bottom of home page.

You can use the cursor to move the time back and forth, fast forward or pause the data. If data is not a timeseries based dataset, it will not display the timeline.

Image Optimisation

You can move the quality slider or select the native resolution to be able to visualise high intensity datasets on your machine.

Tools navigation menu

You can access 3D and 2D tools positioned on the right hand side of the map.

Gyroscope (only in 3D mode)

By clicking on the gyroscope, you can use the compass control with perspective.

When in 3D mode, click on the “gyroscope” in the centre of the Compass Control (picture above) and drag slowly upwards to tilt the view into a Perspective View. Drag downwards to tilt the view back to vertical. The further you drag, the faster it tilts. Release the mouse button when you reach the desired view.

Control + mouse left-click and drag upwards or downwards over the map to enter or adjust the perspective view. (On Windows systems you can also use Mouse middle-click + drag.)

When you are in Perspective View, Control + left-click and drag left or right over the map to “orbit” around the centre of the view. You can also click and drag left or right over the “gyroscope” at the centre of the Compass Control to orbit about the centre of the view.

Double-click the “gyroscope” in the centre of the Compass Control to return the view quickly to a vertical view with North to the top at the current location and scale.

Dragging to Pan and using the Mouse Wheel to zoom still work while showing a Perspective View.

Even the topography and road maps can be viewed in perspective.

You can’t simulate looking from under the ground because the system always keeps the “camera position” above the earth’s surface, but you can create a view which is looking only at the sky. Tilt back downwards to recover.

In Australia, Cradle Mountain and Katoomba are good places to use for experimenting with the gyroscope. Use the search bar to locate them. (Other very high relief areas like the Grand Canyon or Mount Everest are also really cool!)

Zooming and panning

Move your mouse pointer over the map and use the scroll wheel to zoom in or out. The location at the centre of the map display is the centre of the zooming.

You can zoom in, reset or zoom out.

Return to Australia / default region

Click the reset icon in the centre of the zoom control (pictured above).

Pressing the F5 key on Windows or Command + R on Mac OS will reload the entire Map web page. This will result in a reset which will show the whole of Australia/region, but it also results in the total loss of all your context information from the current session, which includes display information and selected Data Sets. It is not recommended unless you are experiencing problems

For panning, click anywhere on the map and drag it to the required location.

Find my location

You can zoom into your current location.


The compare tool, splits the map in 2 sections for comparing same dataset at different times (e.g. satellite images) or place different datasets on each side of the screen. When active, the tool is highlighted and splits the screen in "left" and "right" sections. It can be activated either from the Tools navigation menu or directly at the dataset in the workbench.

Pedestrian mode (only in 3D mode)

You can turn on the mode to navigate viewing the data from a pedestrian perspective which doesn't include views inside buildings.

Once activated, you can navigate using the Controls and the mini map view.

Measuring tool

Helps you to measure the distance in metres, kilometres between two or multiple tools. You can measure by activating the tool, clicking on one point on the map and then another.

Scene Editor (only in Digital Twins)

You can upload 3D datasets (glTF only currently) by using the Scene Editor. Once active, a specific workflow menu is displayed:

You can upload and then position, rotate, scale the 3D model on the map; in addition, you can remove existing 3D structures to allow for the new model to be placed.

Last updated