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Many of us have struggled to get a list of GIS services that are available on the internet. Specifically map services that expose OGC based interfaces like WMS, WFS or Web Service interfaces like REST, SOAP etc.

For instance, just for oceanic and marine data there are several online catalogs such as
2) NOAA NowCoast
3) IMO Mest

If you start with weather, transportation, demographics, agriculture, this list becomes huge!

These sites are not easy to use, don't have the most updated info and don't have a good taxonomy/ classification of services towards easy discovery of such services.

Is there a better attempt out there to create an exhaustive, searchable catalog of all such services? I would like to know their usage rights, free or pay etc. Uptime, performance etc. would also be nice to know.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

If you're thinking of something like a Google for GIS web services then you might want to check out OWS Search Engine.

OWS Search Engine looks for web sevices implementing OGC specifications such as WMS, WMTS, WFS, WCS, WPS, SOS, SAS, SPS and CSW. Additional information about these standards are available on the OGC web site.

If you really want a list then be sure to check Skylab Mobilesystem's list though it is by no means exhaustive and it only covers WMS servers.

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OWS says "Your request could not be process correctly due to an unexpected error encountered while trying to connect to Yahoo! Search BOSS. Please try later." -- hopefully a tempory aberration –  matt wilkie Oct 3 '12 at 5:31
Yes, OWS also states that their service is going to be taken down soon as Yahoo has started charging for searches. May be that is why it's down... –  Ramesh Elaiyavalli Oct 3 '12 at 13:53
I did run into Skylab before, but their links are all dead, and their new URL does not work either. –  Ramesh Elaiyavalli Oct 3 '12 at 14:02
I was not aware of OWS Search. It's a shame that it now appears defunct because it sounds like it would be very useful. –  PolyGeo Oct 4 '12 at 3:58
@Ramesh Sorry about that. Wasn't able to test it. –  R.K. Oct 4 '12 at 3:59

GeoNetwork Opensource and the Esri Geoportal Server are two open source and free technologies that can be used to build Catalog Services for spatial information, and are both a great start.

However, I think both could do with more work on usability.

For example, Catalog Services from the Esri Geoportal Server can be accessed from ArcGIS for Desktop to discover OGC WMS services, but to have ArcGIS for Desktop bind to and display those WMS services remains a manual process of looking in the metadata for a service URL. Once discovered, displaying a WMS service should be as easy as hitting an "Add to Map" button.

On top of technological issues there are of course administrative issues around who can afford to create and maintain a comprehensive catalog of OGC and other GIS web services. I suspect such a Catalog will need to be a federation of catalogs rather than a centalised monolith.

As an aside, I posted an ArcGIS Idea recently to encourage Esri to Publish public test URLs for each OGC web service supported by ArcGIS but it is yet to take off.

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It is a shame that all these data-assets are not easily discoverable, even after OGC created CSW standard. This either needs to be pursued by an International Governance Agency or may be I should just build one and Crowdsource it :-) –  Ramesh Elaiyavalli Oct 4 '12 at 3:45
Wanted to add a note that there has been a CSW client for ArcGIS Desktop for several years that connects directly to various flavors of CSW and can add WMS services to ArcMap without copy/paste of URLs. This addin to ArcGIS Desktop is open source and is available through the Geoportal Server github repo: github.com/Esri/geoportal-server/wiki/Geoportal-CSW-Clients –  marten hogeweg Nov 14 '13 at 4:27
@martenhogeweg Thanks for looking in on this Answer which I am happy to revise once I see it working. I have just installed the CSW Client for 10.2 from that URL but am having no success trying to connect to, let alone search, any of the four catalogs available to me there. Is there a particular CSW service URL that you suggest I configure to confirm that this is working as you describe? –  PolyGeo Nov 14 '13 at 5:50
I've posted a new Question to try and find such a URL. –  PolyGeo Nov 14 '13 at 23:23

Just to mention it: Mapmatters.org provides exactly what you want. You can easily search for specific titles or tags and it has a nice preview function.

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The best search engine for WMS and other OGC web services I found so far is http://spatineo.com.

It works like a google search for geospatial web services. The main advantage of spatineo.com is that it shows info about the service status (this is very important information because many WMS servers are down and the WMS URLs often change). It also provides info if the service has any access restrictions (like "only for registered users")

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