Aeris Weather Layer

Tutorial by Ranen Ghosh

Aeris Weather is a provider of weather content like local forecasts and time dependent radar overlays. In this tutorial we add an animated layer of up to date weather imagery from Aeris to WhirlyGlobe-Maply.

NoteVersion 2.4.1 (or better) Required

You will need WhirlyGlobe-Maply version 2.4.1 or better to use the new MaplyAeris classes.

Version 2.4.1 (or greater) can be found in the github repo or in this binary distribution.

You will need to have already run through the remote image layer tutorial. Let’s get started by opening your HelloEarth project.

Xcode HelloEarth

If you haven’t got one here is a suitable ViewController file to start with (for Objective-C or Swift). This version is from the previous tutorial for a remote image layer.

Setup the Aeris layer

Let’s get started by adding five member variables to the ViewController class. Add them to the implementation block in Objective C, or to the class properties in Swift. We’ll explain what these do later.

  • @implementation ViewController
        MaplyBaseViewController *theViewC;
        WhirlyGlobeViewController *globeViewC;
        MaplyViewController *mapViewC;
        // New member variables
        int frameCount;
        float animationPeriod;
        float importanceScale;
        NSString *aerisID;
        NSString *aerisKey;
  • private var theViewC: MaplyBaseViewController?
    private var globeViewC: WhirlyGlobeViewController?
    private var mapViewC: MaplyViewController?
    // New member variables
    private var frameCount: Int?
    private var animationPeriod: Float?
    private var importanceScale: Float?
    private var aerisID: String?
    private var aerisKey: String?

Add a method call as the final line in viewDidLoad.

  •     [self setupAerisOverlayLayer];
  •     setupAerisOverlayLayer()

And begin implementing it as follows:

  • - (void)setupAerisOverlayLayer {
        aerisID = @"2kDDnD7Q1XFfFm4CwH17C";
        aerisKey = @"FQmadjUccN3CnB4KG6kKeurUpxHSKM0xbCd6TlVi";
        frameCount = 6;
        animationPeriod = 3.0;
        importanceScale = 1.0/16.0;
  • func setupAerisOverlayLayer() {
        aerisID = "2kDDnD7Q1XFfFm4CwH17C"
        aerisKey = "FQmadjUccN3CnB4KG6kKeurUpxHSKM0xbCd6TlVi"
        frameCount = 6
        animationPeriod = 3.0
        importanceScale = 1.0/16.0

Aeris provides quite a few time slices in their data layers, more than we can easily display. The frameCount member controls how many we will show. The animationPeriod is how long we’ll take to run through the whole animation and the importanceScale controls how much data we’ll load relative to the underlying map.

WhirlyGlobe-Maply Aeris classes

There are three WhirlyGlobe-Maply Aeris-related classes needed to make animated Aeris weather happen. MaplyAerisTiles provides a list of available Aeris layers. The MaplyAerisLayerInfo class contains the relevant information for a particular layer. And MaplyAerisTileSet provides the tile sources to add to a WhirlyGlobe-Maply layer.

Go back to the beginning of the implementation block in Objective C (or the beginning of the class in Swift), and add four more member variables here. We’ll need these to keep track of the Aeris layers.

  • MaplyQuadImageTilesLayer *aerisLayer;
    MaplyAerisLayerInfo *layerInfo;
    MaplyAerisTileSet *layerTileSet;
    NSTimer *aerisRefreshTimer;
  • private var aerisLayer: MaplyQuadImageTilesLayer!
    private var layerInfo: MaplyAerisLayerInfo!
    private var layerTileSet: MaplyAerisTileSet!
    private var aerisRefreshTimer: NSTimer!

Now add this to the setupAerisOverlayLayer method:

  • NSString *layerCode = @"radar";
    MaplyAerisTiles *aerisTiles = [[MaplyAerisTiles alloc] initWithAerisID:aerisID secretKey:aerisKey];
    NSDictionary *layerInfoDict = [aerisTiles layerInfo];
    layerInfo = layerInfoDict[layerCode];
    if (!layerInfo) {
        NSLog(@"Error finding aeris radar layer parameters.");
    layerTileSet = [[MaplyAerisTileSet alloc] initWithAerisID:aerisID secretKey:aerisKey layerInfo:layerInfo tileSetCount:frameCount];
    [self refreshAerisOverlayLayer];
  • let layerCode = "radar"
    let aerisTiles = MaplyAerisTiles(aerisID: aerisID!, secretKey: aerisKey!)
    let layerInfoDict = aerisTiles?.layerInfo()
    layerInfo = layerInfoDict?[layerCode] as? MaplyAerisLayerInfo
    guard let layerInfo = layerInfo else {
        print("Error finding aeris radar layer parameters.")
    layerTileSet = MaplyAerisTileSet(
            aerisID: aerisID!, 
            secretKey: aerisKey!, 
            layerInfo: layerInfo, 
            tileSetCount: UInt32(frameCount!))

That gets the MaplyAerisLayerInfo object for the radar layer, and constructs a MaplyAerisTileSet object for it. That tells us where to get the actual data from, but we’ll need to do one more thing to find out how many time steps are available and where they are.

  • - (void)refreshAerisOverlayLayer {    
        [layerTileSet startFetchWithSuccess:^(NSArray *tileSources) {
            MaplyMultiplexTileSource *multiSource = [[MaplyMultiplexTileSource alloc] initWithSources:tileSources];
            if (aerisLayer)
                [theViewC removeLayer:aerisLayer];
            aerisLayer = [[MaplyQuadImageTilesLayer alloc] initWithCoordSystem:multiSource.coordSys tileSource:multiSource];
            aerisLayer.imageDepth = frameCount;
            aerisLayer.animationPeriod = animationPeriod;
            aerisLayer.imageFormat = MaplyImageUShort5551;
            aerisLayer.drawPriority = 1000;
            aerisLayer.maxTiles = kMaplyImageLayerDrawPriorityDefault+100;
            aerisLayer.importanceScale = 1.0/16.0;
            [theViewC addLayer:aerisLayer];
        } failure:^(NSError *error) {
  • func refreshAerisOverlayLayer() {
        layerTileSet!.startFetchWithSuccess({ tileSources in
            let multiSource = MaplyMultiplexTileSource(sources: tileSources!)
            if let aerisLayer = self.aerisLayer {
            self.aerisLayer = MaplyQuadImageTilesLayer(coordSystem: multiSource!.coordSys, tileSource: multiSource!)
            if let aerisLayer = self.aerisLayer {
                aerisLayer.imageDepth = UInt32(self.frameCount!)
                aerisLayer.animationPeriod = self.animationPeriod!
                aerisLayer.imageFormat = MaplyQuadImageFormat.ImageUShort5551
                aerisLayer.drawPriority = kMaplyImageLayerDrawPriorityDefault+100
                aerisLayer.maxTiles = 1000
                aerisLayer.importanceScale = 1.0/16.0
        failure: { (NSError) in

This refreshAerisOverlayLayer method will query the Aeris service to figure out the end points for the timesteps in the data layer, radar in this case. When it gets that information back it will put together a MaplyMultiplexTileSource which is just a tile source that deals with animated data sets. From there it sets up a layer to fetch and draw the data and off it goes.

Aeris Radar layer

Staying current with a periodic refresh

You’ll notice that in the refreshAerisOverlayLayer method we first remove the aerisLayer from the view if it already exists. This anticipates our final change, which is to periodically refresh the imagery to get the latest data.

At the end of the setupAerisOverlayLayer method, schedule a timer to refresh the imagery.

  •     aerisRefreshTimer = [NSTimer scheduledTimerWithTimeInterval:300.0 target:self selector:@selector(refreshAerisOverlayLayer) userInfo:nil repeats:YES];
  •     self.aerisRefreshTimer = NSTimer.scheduledTimerWithTimeInterval(300.0, target:self, selector:#selector(self.refreshAerisOverlayLayer), userInfo:nil, repeats:true)

More Data Layers

The other layers available from the WhirlyGlobe-Maply Aeris classes are Infrared Satellite, Global Satellite, and Hi-Res Visible Satellite. For a Global Satellite example, substitute the following assignments in setupAerisOverlayLayer:

  • //    NSString *layerCode = @"radar";
    //    frameCount = 6;
    //    animationPeriod = 3.0;
    //    importanceScale = 1.0/16.0;
        NSString *layerCode = @"sat-global";
        frameCount = 1;
        animationPeriod = 5.0;
        importanceScale = 1.0/4.0;
  • //    let layerCode = "radar"
    //    frameCount = 6
    //    animationPeriod = 3.0
    //    importanceScale = 1.0/16.0
        let layerCode = "sat-global"
        frameCount = 1
        animationPeriod = 5.0
        importanceScale = 1.0/4.0

Aeris Radar layer