I understand that the GeoServer can produce vector tiles in three formats: GeoJSON, TopoJSON, and MapBox Vector (MVT). Moreover vector tiles has many advantages in handling data such as reduced size and faster rendering. Could the Vector tiles be used for the netCDF data to improve the performance of the data rendering on the client side?

I observed that raster data could be triangulated and converted to vector tiles. In doing so, will the quality of the data been reduced?

1 Answer 1


Yes. Vector tiles certainly have the potential to improve the performance of client side data rendering (not to mention the flexibility).

Boundless appear working on this exact need.

From what I have seen though, the hurdle in the NetCDF > GeoServer > VectorTile approach is GeoServer's limited support for NetCDF, in particular 2D coordinate systems used for non-regular grids (which are quite ubiquitous in the Environmental Science community, who are arguably the most common users of NetCDF). So, what's yours? 😉

This hurdle currently seems to push most people in the direction of THREDDS and NcWMS.

I will likely be exploring NetCDF > Vector in more detail shortly so may report back with additional findings.

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    The Boundless article talks about Vector Tiles and NetCDF. They're two different functionalities, and not related. Also, NetCDF data actually is raster, in that it's generally regularly gridded (not always though). It is essentially never vector in the GIS sense of points, line and polygons, though.
    – Alex Leith
    May 21, 2018 at 23:04
  • The article might not make the link explicitly, but references the ability to consume NetCDF as input, and publish Vector Tiles as output, which is relevant. I take your point about raster though, my answer was misleading and has been updated.
    – danwild
    May 21, 2018 at 23:26
  • Yep, well I've used both, and I would be very surprised if you can publish a raster data source as vector tiles.
    – Alex Leith
    May 22, 2018 at 0:13
  • In fact, I've just tested locally, and using GeoServer with the vector tiles extension, I can publish a SHP file with a vector tileset, but not a GeoTIFF. So, I am 100% that a NetCDF cannot be published as vector tiles, which makes sense, because it would have to run a raster-to-vector algorithm in real time, which would be slow...
    – Alex Leith
    May 22, 2018 at 0:28
  • Great, thanks for testing. I think that we can agree that this is a pretty broad question/problem. As I had concluded in my own tests, GeoServer is not the silver bullet, however there is plenty of opportunity to improve the way NetCDF data is served to clients - and I would not rule out vector tiles playing a part in the future (particularly 3D).
    – danwild
    May 22, 2018 at 0:43

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