Last year, we talked a lot about formats…

Last Spring, you may remember we embarked on a formats trial which saw nine of our products trialled in up to five new formats. Hundreds of you got involved and we were so grateful to receive lots of useful feedback on what worked for you and what didn’t.

Utilising the feedback from this trial, we started to look more widely at our product formats. When we released our new version of VectorMap Local in October last year, we made changes to our fulfilment processes to enable us to offer this in GeoPackage as well as GML and Raster formats to give you more choice. We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of our customers using GeoPackage so we’re delighted to know we are moving in the right direction.

The feedback from our OS Open Zoomstack trial offered insight in to which formats our users want to see. Comments from existing and new users showed us you were excited to see Vector Tiles and GeoPackage being offered as options for this release, so we’ve taken these forward in the fully supported product.

And that’s not all! From listening to our users, we know that in terms of data, ease of use is important to you. You’ve told us that providing our products in additional formats helps you use our data more efficiently. Working with Government as part of Open MasterMap project, we are making a wider range of data more accessible and easier to use.

As a result of all the feedback, we’ll be providing more of our data in an expanded range of formats. Coming first will be a release of GeoPackage for the three most downloaded OS Open Data products:

  • OS VectorMap District
  • OS Open Greenspace
  • Code-Point Open

As of April 2019, GeoPackage will join the format options for these products on our Open Data download portal so you’ll be able to download it as a standard. This will be in addition to the existing formats, so you won’t lose anything you’ve been using previously.

Why have we chosen GeoPackage?

GeoPackage is a single file, OGC standard, that supports raster and vector, and has the flexibility to accommodate lots of our data. It’s easy to use and loads natively into most GIS software, so reduces loading time and removes the need to spend time translating and managing multiple files (sometimes thousands at a time!). This will result in shorter loading and set up times, giving you more time to actually use the data.

How did we choose which products to work on?

Through the Open MasterMap project we have a commitment to make our data more accessible, so we wanted to focus on the above list first to make them easily available quickly. We’ve taken feedback from the formats trial and our existing OpenData download statistics to ensure we choose some of our most popular products. We’ve narrowed it down to those which work as a GeoPackage too to help you get the most out of this new format.

How do I get involved?

As of April 2019, the data is going to be available on our Open Data download portal. They’ll be available as GB downloads only and we’ll send you a download link.

Once you’ve had a chance to use the data, please let us know what you think of the new format! We want to keep adding improvements to our products, and we need your feedback to ensure we are doing the right things for you as the user.

If your favourite OS product isn’t on the list this time, let us know. There will be more changes to follow…

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