Atlas information systems (AIS) present spatial information on predefined themes and localities in the form of maps and other representations, generally focusing on correct cartographic appearance and offering a certain degree of user interaction. This article introduces the concept of modular AIS, a concept that is essential for the development of an AIS with modern computer technology. The main advantages of a modular architecture are twofold: first, an AIS software framework based on a modular architecture allows for easy and rapid customization to a certain theme and locality; second, functional enhancements and new technologies can be easily integrated into a modular AIS in order to optimally present and analyse the data at hand. Web-based AIS can benefit from the concept of modularity at three different levels: (1) The AIS client can adjust its functionality and adapt to the available technology on the present computer platform. (2) The AIS server can build an AIS client with custom-tailored data and functionality in real time, depending on the user's access rights, needs, or expertise. (3) Distributed, modular data storage greatly simplifies the design, implementation and maintainance of an AIS by using a mediation system. To illustrate the concepts presented, we will discuss selected technical aspects (e.g., Web-based map viewer technology, client-server communication), and describe an exemplary Web-based AIS that extends the modular core architecture through specialized functionalities for the analysis of geophysical data. It is the authors' hope that the ideas presented will provide an introduction to the technical concepts for designers and developers of similar Web-based atlas information systems.
- Component-based mapping architecture
- Interactive web cartography
- Natural hazards