Adding spatial reference systems to a WMS service's capabilities file

Yingqi Tang, a product engineer specializing in ArcGIS Server and OGC services, contributed the following post:

In ArcGIS Server 9.2 you can publish a map document as an OGC WMS service. All WMS services advertise the spatial reference systems they support through capabilities files. WMS clients read the capabilities file to find out which spatial reference systems they can use to request a map.

The WMS services you create with ArcGIS Server support hundreds of spatial reference systems, but only two are advertised in the capabilities file: EPSG 4326 (required by every WMS service) and the spatial reference of the data frame from which you published the service. Although you can request a map from the WMS service using any of the hundreds of supported spatial reference systems, some WMS clients will return an error if the spatial reference you request does not appear in the capabilities file. Other clients, such as ArcMap, only allow you to switch among the spatial reference systems listed in the capabilities file.

This post shows how to add more spatial reference systems to the capabilities file of a WMS service that you have published with ArcGIS Server. To do this, you publish the WMS service using an external capabilities file. You can then manually add spatial reference systems to this file. This procedure is mentioned in the ArcGIS Server 9.2 documentation as one reason to use external WMS capabilities files.

Assume that you have a map document whose data frame’s spatial reference system is “World_Fuller (EPSG:54050)”. So by default the WMS service being published on that map document will only support spatial reference system EPSG:4326 and EPSG:54050. Now let’s add one additional spatial reference system “World_Aitoff (EPSG:54043)” into this WMS service by following detailed steps below.

  1. Publish the map document as a WMS service using system generated capabilities
    files. Use a system generated capabilities file as a template when creating an
    external WMS capabilities file. To use system generated capabilities files,
    select the option “Enter service properties below” in the WMS capabilities page
    in the Service Properties.

    Publishing with system generated capabilities files

  2. Assume you named your map service “world”, so the WMS service URL for “world”
    will be something like
    “http://<host>:port/arcgis/services/world/MapServer/WMSServer?”. Start a
    browser and type
    Save the response as an XML file called “capabilities111.xml”.

  3. Copy “capabilities111.xml” to a place on your file system and make it
    accessible as a URL. As an example, “capabilities111.xml” can be copied to
    “C:InetpubwwwrootArcGISWmsworld” (assuming you are using ArcGIS Server for
    the Microsoft .NET Framework and you have created the folder “world” yourself).
    So now the file can be accessible as URL
    “http://<host>/arcgis/wms/world/capabilities111.xml”. Before you keep
    going, start a browser and type in this URL to make sure the file is
  4. Stop the map service you just published in step 1. Go to the WMS capabilities
    page of the map service properties panel.

    Switch to use the second option “Use external capabilities files” to publish
    this WMS service. Type in the URL of the folder where you put
    “capabilities111.xml” plus the prefix of file “capabilities” in the “Specify
    the location and prefix” input box. (So in this example you would type
    “http://<host>/arcgis/wms/world/capabilities”) The reason why only the
    URL of folder and file prefix are required is to allow you to create external
    capabilities files for other versions of WMS (1.0.0, 1.1.0, 1.3.0). Click “OK”
    and restart the map service “world”.

    Publishing with external capabilities files

  5. Before you keep going,
    make a connection in ArcCatalog
    to the WMS service you just republished
    in step 4. The URL of your service is “http://<server name>/<instance
    name>/services/<folder name (if applicable)>/<service
    name>/MapServer/WMSServer?”. Preview the WMS service and make sure it’s
    working properly.

  6. Now you can add spatial reference systems to your WMS service. Make a copy of
    your map document and open the copy in ArcMap. Change the data frame’s
    coordinate system to “World_Aitoff (EPSG:54043)”, which is the one we want to
    add, and save the map document.

    World Aitoff projection in ArcMap

  7. Zoom to the full extent of the map. Right click the data frame and click
    Properties > Data Frame. Write down the extent values of current map (see
    the values in Extent > Fixed Extent).

    Getting the extent of the map

  8. Open “capabilities111.xml” which you saved in step 3 in a text editor. Search
    for the root “<Layer>” element (There will be only root <Layer>
    element in the xml).

    Add “<SRS>EPSG:54043</SRS>” right after
    “<SRS>EPSG:4326</SRS>” and “<SRS>EPSG:54050</SRS>”.

    How can you get the EPSG code for the spatial reference you want to add? One way
    is to look it up here in the
    Coordinate IDs and Descriptions book.

    Now add “<BoundingBox SRS=”54043″ minx=”-22041257.7736507″
    miny=”-17284666.2314989″ maxx=”22041257.7724258″ maxy=”17222309.5138405″/>”
    right after “<BoundingBox SRS=”54050″ . . .>” Substitute your own minx,
    miny, maxx, and maxy values that you wrote down.

    Original XML file:

    XML before change

    XML after adding new spatial reference system “EPSG:54043″ and its “BoundingBox” for root

    XML after change

  9. For each layer of the map document, do the following things in order to figure
    out the layer’s extent: (1) Right-click the data frame and go to Properties
    > Data Frame. (2) Select “Other” in “Extent used by Full extent command” and
    click “Specify”; (3) Select “Outline of the Feature”, and pick the layer. (4)
    Apply the change and return to the map document. (5) Click Full Extent. (6) Go
    back to Properties > Data Frame and note the extent of the layer.

    Resetting Full Extent

  10. In “capabilities111.xml”, search for each <Layer> element according to
    its name and tile. For each layer add “<SRS>EPSG:54043</SRS>” right
    after “<SRS>EPSG:4326</SRS>” and
    “<SRS>EPSG:54050</SRS>”; Add “<BoundingBox SRS=”54043″ minx=”"
    miny=”" maxx=”" maxy=”"/>” right after “<BoundingBox SRS=”54050″……>”
    (you need to fill in minx, miny, maxx and maxy values with what you got in step

    Final XML

  11. Save “capabilities111.xml” and restart the map service.

  12. You’ve successfully added a spatial reference system to your WMS service. To
    prove it, connect to the WMS service in ArcCatalog and view the layer’s
    properties. “EPSG:54043″ should be listed as a “Supported SRS”.

    Supported spatial reference systems

  13. Add the WMS service in ArcMap. In the table of contents, right-click the service and click Change Coordinate System. Notice that World Aitoff is now a supported spatial reference system. You can use this dialog to switch among the supported spatial reference systems.

    Viewing spatial reference systems in ArcMap

This entry was posted in Services and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply


  1. myopic says:

    In ArcGIS 9.3.1 sp1 for WMS 1.3.0 the dynamic capabilities does not correctly identify minx, miny, maxx, maxy.. in the appropriate order.

    see example below..
    bounding box for crs:84 should be the same as EPSG:4326 but they appear backwards..

    It would be nice to be able to have dynamic capabilities and make modifications to they in ArcGIS configs..rather than having a ‘EXTERNAL capabilities file’ that then needs to be maintained.

    This is not good, especially in ArcMAP Desktop since adding a WMS layer to a new Data Frame takes the first projection in the capabilities as default..



  2. anakintang says:

    What you observed is expected behavior according to WMS spec 1.3.0. CRS:84 is the same as EPSG:4326 except that axis order is reversed. We made the change since 9.3.

  3. myopic says:

    Interesting.. I cannot seem to be able to get anything other than a blank image returned in ArcGIS Desktop (or any client) with the reference system set to CRS:84 or EPSG:4326 and version 1.3.0 OR 1.1.1 with above in capabilities.

    This is probably not the best place to post either.

    However, I did find a good site that explains the reversal..