Stellar Suite Products - New Released features summary January 2015


This is a brief overview of the new functions and capability which are incorporated into the latest release of the Stellar Suite products (Earthlight, Aurora and Comet).

The main highlights are described in turn. We look forward to hearing your views and observations as to how these features and tools are working out for you:

Text outline

The user is now able to set an outline for labelling and text created as part of an annotation layer. This is to improve the ‘read-ability’ of text and labelling – making it stand-out from rendered background features. For example, here is a simple polygon, with its labelling set to have a white outline of 2 pixels width:

The user can configure any colour for the outline and of any width (set in number of pixels). The addition to the tools for setting text outlines in the ‘Text Style Editor’ is as follows:

Inset Map and Inset Scale Bar

Following requests to enable this feature, users are now able to create inset maps and inset scale bars for Word documents (.docx). Effectively this means that your operational sections – such as Transportation / Highways – can have all their existing map templates replicated within Earthlight, and documents subsequently produced. The resulting produced mapping document can then be edited further in an MS Word application if the user so wishes.

It is intended that this should increase the flexibility and adaptability of Earthlight to fit into – and replace – existing working processes in operation within our client organisations.

This now means that the production of Word (.docx) format print documents have been brought up to the same level of functionality as PDF print documents, but have the benefit of being more flexible because they’re more easily altered and amended in ubiquitous Microsoft Office-like word processor applications.

SMPyramid for height data

This implementation uses the TIFF file format for the pyramid and utilizes the GDAL toolset for data processing raster height data. GDAL ( is the best open source data translation library in terms of compliance with OGC raster abstract data model and vector abstract data model. It is the de-facto standard in this area, and is widely used in many GIS software applications: QuantumGIS and MapServer being two of the most widely recognised.

The advantage of SMPyramid is that it offers you a faster rendering option for raster data at all scales. This is because of the pre-preparation of multiple layers for display, the most appropriate pre-rendered resolution being served for the scale at which the user is wishing to view and query the height raster data. It greatly reduces any ‘on-the-fly’ rendering needed to correctly display raster data - and is, thus, much faster!

Native ASCII Grid

To enable and support the increasing use of Ordnance Survey’s Terrain 5 elevation / height data by our local authority clients – we have now introduced support within StatMap’s Raster Loader software for the ASCII Grid or NEF format, to enable this data to be processed and raster layers built to enable full use of this data.

Earthlight administrators will not have to use external software to translate ASC files into GeoTIFFs to process OS Terrain 5 data – as it is all now integrated into and handled by our Stellar Suite Raster Loader. All these tools are – of course – part of the full Earthlight product, so there’s no need for extra licences or expense (naturally!)

ITN Urban Paths

Walkability and walking routes are now central to the theories of place, planning, transportation and inclusivity.

Decision makers need to understand how easily locations can be accessed on foot. As such, StatMap’s leading edge MasterMap loading software – Courier – now fully supports Ordnance Survey’s Integrated Transport Network Urban Paths (ITN) data. Users are now able to perform Isochrone analyses upon sites based upon their location and proximity to path networks – as well as their walking distance from critical locations (e.g. residential neighbourhoods, schools, care homes, etc.)

The intention of this inclusion is to further move Earthlight GIS software to become a central plank of decision support for a wide-range of functions throughout our client organisations.

Note: it is very important to note that ITN Urban Paths is completely separate from ITN RRI. In other words, a pavement by the side of a road is not included in the Urban Paths data. Therefore, to generate a complete a model for the Walkablility of an area, or location, both ITN datasets (Urban Paths and RRI) have to be translated at the same time and merged into one network.

WFS Host

Earthlight’s WFS support utilises the existing GeoServer capability – but provides a much friendlier interface and administration tools for setting up services which consume and serve WFS feeds. Such is its ease of use, publishing in WFS is practically identical to the steps undertaken in Earthlight when publishing using the WMS Server Manager.

The introduction of WFS support ensures OGC compliance, but it does introduce a complexity to the architecture, as the GeoServer Communication Diagram demonstrates, below:

StatMap Comet

The new incarnation is now even more robust and easier to maintain. It’s still, effectively, an offline version of Aurora. For those wishing to see a full demonstration of the full new version of Comet, please do let us know and we’ll post you a link to our on-line demonstration video (which is currently in production.)

Field Calculator

The new Field Calculator function is considered to be the most important addition to the existing Earthlight toolset.

It uses a new and powerful JavaScript function library to enable users to create either simple or complex calculations and transformations upon both attribute and geometry data.

Similar to existing desktop GIS functions, Earthlight has now moved these to intranet client GIS.

Essentially, because of the underlying JavaScript parser, any functions, calculations or algorithms you can build in Javascript, you can build in the Field Calculator – as long as it returns an alpha-numeric result.

On-the-fly geometry calculations in Earthlight are simple to undertake, and use the standard geometry parameter declarations in JavaScript (in much the same manner as you would with a similar calculation in ESRI ArcGIS using the Python scripting declarations):


A simple example for parsing scripts can be seen, below, where the Field Calculator function is used to return a concatenated single line address from multiple fields within the dataset. In this case, the fields being concatenated are those from the LLPG DTF 7.3 dataset:

function toTitleCase(str) {
return str.replace(/\w\S*/g, function(txt){return txt.charAt(0).toUpperCase() + txt.substr(1).toLowerCase();});

var address = “”, sao = “”, pao = “”;

if (r.sao_start_number != null) sao = sao.concat(r.sao_start_number);
if (r.sao_start_suffix.length > 0) sao = sao.concat(r.sao_start_suffix);
if (r.sao_end_number != null) sao = sao.concat("-", r.sao_end_number);
if (r.sao_end_suffix.length > 0) sao = sao.concat(r.sao_end_suffix);

if (r.pao_start_number != null) pao = pao.concat(r.pao_start_number);
if (r.pao_start_suffix.length > 0) pao = pao.concat(r.pao_start_suffix);
if (r.pao_end_number != null) pao = pao.concat("-", r.pao_end_number);
if (r.pao_end_suffix.length > 0) pao = pao.concat(r.pao_end_suffix);

if (r.organisation.length > 0) address = address.concat(toTitleCase(r.organisation), " ");
if (r.sao_text.length > 0) address = address.concat(toTitleCase(r.sao_text), " ");
if (sao.length > 0) address = address.concat(sao, " ")
if (r.pao_text.length > 0) address = address.concat(toTitleCase(r.pao_text), " ");
if (pao.length > 0) address = address.concat(pao, " “)
if (r.description.length > 0) address = address.concat(toTitleCase(r.description));
if (r.locality.length > 0) address = address.concat(” “, toTitleCase(r.locality));
if (r.town_name.length > 0) address = address.concat(” “, toTitleCase(r.town_name));
if ((r.post_town.length > 0) && (r.post_town != r.town_name)) address = address.concat(” “, toTitleCase(r.post_town));
if (r.postcode.length > 0) address = address.concat(” ", r.postcode);
return address;

Future Development 2015 - 2017

We hope that this gives you an initial ‘heads up’ with regard to the new features about to be introduced. Please do keep us informed of your experiences with using them, and let us know of any improvements and / or additions to them that you’d like to see.

As StatMap’s Stellar Suite products are all undergoing constant development, improvement and extension of capability, we want to encourage you to submit details of any new features you want to see. Please also do let us know of updates to the software which are required to help you meet statutory and operational performance related queries.

In order to do this, please could you use this forum for posting your ideas. It’s always most helpful to stimulate debate on these matters as it can help to fire the imagination, further driving the continual evolution of the products to provide the best possible Return on Investment (ROI) and further embed spatial analyses in the underpinning of decision making across the public and private sectors.