Since its release in December 2011, the systems engineers and developers behind NASA Worldview, the imagery and data visualization application from NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS), have strived to make it the premiere web-based application for the interactive browsing of global, full-resolution satellite imagery. They’ve increased the number of available data layers to more than 900, and incorporated imagery from satellites operated by NASA’s national and international partners, including NOAA and the European Space Agency, and they’ve added a steady stream of new features, such as a location search, the ability to add a marker on a map, and a seamless connection to Earthdata Search.
Now, the architects and stewards of Worldview have gone a step further and made it easier for media agencies, scientific organizations, emergency managers, and others to harness the application’s value by embedding it in their own online environments.
“We hosted a workshop at a conference a few years ago in which we invited members of the media to learn how to use Worldview to tell stories,”said Ryan Boller, Worldview Project Manager and Data Visualization Lead for NASA's Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) Project. “Some of the participants asked about the possibility of embedding Worldview into their news articles and we’ve received some other questions about it too. We thought it was a great idea and wanted to support it as well as we could.”
Boller added that some users have gone so far as to embed the full version of Worldview into their websites, so he, ESDIS Systems Engineer Minnie Wong, and their colleagues decided to create a more user-friendly version of the application that was easier for users to incorporate into their own online environments and products.
“People could always embed Worldview and they started doing it on their own, but the full version of Worldview wasn’t made for that,” Boller said. “You’d get all of the user interface elements with it and some interactive elements didn’t make sense or weren’t as useful. The embeddable version was our way of finally responding to those requests and feedback, while simultaneously encouraging people to use Worldview however they see fit.”
To create the embeddable version, Boller said that he and his Worldview teammates made a host of adaptations to the application and performed tests to ensure users would have the appropriate experience.
“In the embedded version, there’s no toolbar at the top, just a button that takes users to the full version of Worldview. The long timeline at the bottom of the full version has been replaced by a more minimal date widget, and there’s no option to download data,” Boller said. “The idea is to make it user friendly and encourage people to explore what’s being presented without offering features that go beyond the purpose for which it was embedded.”
The result is a more manageable product that allows users to embed Worldview into their websites and other web-based products in a way that can be specifically tailored to a range of users’ needs.
“Beyond media and science organizations, embedding Worldview could also be useful for emergency management dashboards,” Boller said. “For example, emergency managers working to keep people informed about the latest developments with a wildfire could embed Worldview on a page with other, related information, such as air quality reports and evacuation notices.”
In addition, organizations and entities within NASA have begun embedding Worldview into their online offerings as well.
“Recently, a NASA Distributed Active Archive Center incorporated Worldview into their website to illustrate some of its data and imagery, so embedding the application can be of benefit to the EOSDIS community as well,” said Minnie Wong. “It’s also useful for incorporating Worldview into other online story-telling vehicles, such as Esri StoryMaps.”
Yet, however it’s used, Worldview’s new embed feature is sure to provide users with a powerful and flexible new way to share imagery and data with their audiences, said Edward Plato, a Software Developer on the Worldview team.
“This feature empowers users to leverage Worldview's capabilities to visualize, interact with, and improve understanding of the underlying data.”
This Worldview map offers a before-and-after comparison of the impact of fires in southeastern Australia. These false-color Corrected Reflectance images (Bands M11-I2-I1) are from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) aboard the joint NASA/NOAA Suomi National Polar orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite. On the left "A" side is an image of southeastern Australia on 14 January 2019 and on the right "B" side is the same area on 11 January 2020. First, click anywhere to interact with the map, then slide the swiper back and forth to see the burned areas (dark red) and the actively burning fires (bright red) and smoke on the right "B" side compared to the unburned, green vegetation on the left "A" side. Click on the icon in the upper right corner to interact with the map in the full version of Worldview.
Embedding Worldview into a web page, StoryMap, or other web-based product is easier than you might think. Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to do it:
1. Go to Worldview: worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov
2. Set up the map in Worldview in the manner most useful for illustrating your story. For example, this is a before and after comparison of fires in Australia.
3. Click on the Share icon (second from the left) in the upper right corner.
4. Click on the "Embed" tab.
5. Click "Copy" to copy the HTML code to wrap the current Worldview instance in an
<iframe> inline element.
6. Add the HTML code to your webpage in the place where you want the Worldview map to appear.
Note: You will need to wrap the
<iframe> code in a wrapper element (e.g.,
<div>) with your desired
height, and any additional style changes. You can change the
height from percent to px to make it fit your page. In the example above, the height has been changed to 600px.
Compared to the full application, the embedded version of Worldview has intentionally limited functionality to give users a more streamlined experience. To see a list of the features and button/tab interactions that are not available or altered in embed mode, see the documentation in the Worldview GitHub repository.