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It is important that the large variety of data that Gulf of Mexico Atlas contains loads as quickly as possible on a wide variety of web browsers. The data atlas uses the open-source Javascript library, Openlayers by MetaCarta, to display map data in web browsers. OpenLayers can load map data from many different sources, such as Web Map Service (WMS), Web Feature Service (WFS), Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, GeoServer, and ArcGIS Server. In addition, GeoRSS, KML, GML, and GeoJSON are supported by OpenLayers.

Wiring diagram depicting the protocols supported and flow of data from the data stores to the client

Map data used within the data atlas are being served out as cached map services from an ArcGIS Server that resides at the National Centers for Environmental Information Mississippi (formerly NCDDC). The Google Maps/Bing Maps/ArcGIS Online tiling scheme was used to generate the map caches. The OpenLayers application consumes these map caches and displays them within the data atlas. The ArcGIS Server can also be used to display the map data through WMS, Representational State Transfer (REST) API, and KML format for users who wish to use other tools to view the data.

To provide support for application-level clients, ArcGIS Server exposes a SOAP API1 at the server object level which consumes SOAP requests and returns SOAP responses. The implementation is dependent on two standard XML-based specifications: WSDL (Web Services Description Language) and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol). WSDL is used to describe networked XML-based services, and SOAP is used to describe the format of a message sent to a networked service.

1 - From ESRI Developer Network : Working with the ArcGIS Server SOAP API