OGC WMS Demo and Reference Server

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Image dynamically rendered by the service.

Please see also the OGC WMS Tutorial on the OGC web site.

This page describes the OGC WMS 1.3 Demo and Reference Server operated for the OGC by Metaspatial.


End Point

The end point to access this service is: http://metaspatial.net/cgi-bin/ogc-wms.xml. If this endpoint is called without any additional parameters the MapServer software running on this server will return a text saying:

No query information to decode. QUERY_STRING is set, but empty.

This is correct and expected behavior. The server did not get any instructions what to do and therefore only informs us that it has nothing to do. It is not specified in the OGC WMS standard 1.3 what the server should return in this case therefore other server software may return something different or nothing at all. In order to query maps from this server we have to first get the metadata. The metadata is contained in the XML encoded OGC WMS Capabilities Document. It contains all the information needed to make a valid OGC WMS GetMap request.

Getting a Map Image

The GetMap request queries the server with a set of parameters describing the map image. The values of the parameters are taken from the Capabilities document (see above). This GetMap request will create the image shown below:

The link has been trunkated for readability. Use the link above to get the map image.


This image is rendered dynamically by the server unless your browser has cached it locally.

Description of the Data

This server uses OS OpenData produced and maintained by the Ordnance Survey Great Britain.


Some data licensed under the UK Open Government license containing Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2013.


The server hosts several raster and vector data layers containing point, line and polygon features. The service consists of 25 layers including the root layer (0) and two grouped layers, "Topography" and "Infrastructure". The "Topography" layer consists of 10 sub layers, "Infrastructure" of 6 sub layers. See details below.


The "bottom" layer is the DTM of the UK. The data ranges from zero-values representing elevation 0 which is rendered in black to the highest elevation of approximately 1400 meters rendered in white. Intermediate elevations are represented in shades of grey.


The "Overview" layer (source data in TIFF format) shows the British Isles in a cartographic design suitable for small scales down to 1:250.000.

Raster 250K

The "Raster 250K" layer cartography is optimzed for display around 1:250.000.

National Parks

The National Parks are polygon features with a default dark green semi transparent filling. The cartographic representation can be modified using the OGC SLD standard.


The layers contained in the group "Topography" are based on the Ordnance Survey "Vector Map District" product. The "Topography" layers contains

  • Tidalwater
  • Foreshore
  • Woodland

Surfacewater Surfacewater-linear Rivernames Lakenames Contour Lines Contour Lines 50m interval Peaks


The grouped layer "Infrastructure" contains the following sub layers.

  • Buildings (or rather, the outlines or building blocks)
  • Railway Tracks
  • Roads (wide representation)
  • Roads-filling (narrower representation to allow for cartographic repreentation as a filled line)
  • Railway Stations

Selected OpenStreetMap Point Objects

The point objects from OpenStreetMap tagged as "Pub" (and similar), campsites and parking spaces are represented at a scale greater than 1:50.000. This layer is also queryable so that it can show how a FeatureInfo request works. Additionally selected named places are represented at a scale greater than 1:50.000.

Supported Coordinate Systems

The source data is available for download at the Ordnance Survey web site in the coordinate system EPSG:27700 (OSGB 1936 / British National Grid).

The server is configured to support a European focused subset of EPSGs codes so that the data can be combined with other European services to show compatibility with INSPIRE etc.

  • EPSG:4326
  • EPSG:27700
  • EPSG:4258
  • EPSG:29903
  • EPSG:2157
  • EPSG:3035
  • EPSG:4937
  • EPSG:3034
  • EPSG:4936
  • EPSG:3038
  • EPSG:3039
  • EPSG:3040
  • EPSG:3041
  • EPSG:3042
  • EPSG:3043
  • EPSG:3044
  • EPSG:3045
  • EPSG:3046
  • EPSG:3047
  • EPSG:3048
  • EPSG:3049
  • EPSG:3050
  • EPSG:3051
  • EPSG:900913


Please contact the operator if you have questions regarding this service.