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3.3 Testing environment

The test environment used an Apache 2.2.22 Web server configured as a proxy to allow remote access to GeoServer running on a 64-bit Windows platform. The suite of internet browsers used for testing comprised Internet Explorer 32-bit and 64-bit 9.0.8112.16421IC, Google Chrome 20.0.1132.57m, Mozilla Firefox 13.0.1, Safari 5.1.7 and Opera 12.0.

Web application features

Figure 14

Figure 14: Screenshot of WebGIS application user interface.

The user interface (Figure 14) intentionally utilises the common pan and zoom control elements found in Google Map style web maps. Since the introduction of Google Maps, user interface design has become streamlined and the typical user now expects that basic control and functionality is analogous to the Google Map experience (Peterson 2008, 8). However, custom controls to manipulate raster image transparency have been added, as transparency control is an essential and ubiquitous desktop GIS feature that greatly enhances the ability to identify and interpret features present within LIDAR data by enabling multiple datasets to be simultaneously displayed and analysed. A layer tree panel is used to allow layers to be grouped and visibility to be controlled, which is a typical feature of most GIS software products but also visually familiar to users with any experience of hierarchical organisational systems such as Windows Explorer, used by Microsoft Windows. Controls to allow digitising the features as a point, polygon and line on the screen and saving via WFS-T to a PostGIS database are located on the bottom toolbar. Attribute information is displayed, created and edited within a grid panel positioned at the bottom of the application interface. Data output is facilitated by links that can output feature data in ESRI shapefile or Google/Open Geospatial Consortium kmz format, suitable for use in a wide variety of commercial and open-source GIS and web mapping software and/or as a printable PDF.

To improve the ergonomics of the user interface, the decision was taken to minimise information initially present on the screen and limit any possible confusion experienced by the first-time user. Consequently, a collapsible panel layout was employed that allowed the user to control the level of information as required, and offered the ability to maximise the mapping panel to allow as much space as possible for transcription.


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