CIS, WCS, and WCPS continue being stable, mature, maintained, and heavily used

Recently, some confusion has been observed in the community about the future of the coverage standards. Opinions float around stating that "There are currently no documented requirements to extend the functionality of the W*S Suite" (fact: in June 2024, WCS extensions have been discussed, and WCPS in Spring 2024 has been adopted into ISO 19123-3 and OGC Abstract Topic 6), "There is a consensus to put all available resources into the further development of the Web APIs" (fact: there is substantial work being invested continuously into maintenance and evolution - see below for details) in an assumed "transition from OGC Web Service Standards to OGC API Standards" (fact: WxS will remain in active use for unlimited time).

Such statements are not correct - rather, coverage work around CIS, WCS, and WCPS is moving forward with multiple activities. In corresponding discussion it has been pointed out manifold that there is a huge implementation basis that needs to be preserved - this affects software producers, service operators, as well as service users. Notably, statements like the above ones are not supported by OGC membership motions or similar.

Recent CIS, WCS, WCPS Activities

The following brief summary shows that maintenance and evolution is very active across several standardization bodies:

  • OGC:
    • WCS: At the June OGC Technical Committee meeting a proposal was made to enhance WCS functionality through a focused addition in the WCS-Interpolation extension
    • further WCS enhancements are known to be in planning
    • Abstract Topic 6 (AT6): The adoption process of ISO 19123-1 and 19123-3 as revision of OGC AT6 has been successfully completed in Spring/Summer 2024, it will soon be published on the OGC website (best follow the News where it will be announced).
    • WxS test suite: the OGC compliance test suite actively maintains the WxS standards. Most recent example (2024-06-28) is the announcement that WMTS and WMS client test suite works with https the OGC Beta Validator Website.
  • ISO TC211
    • ISO 19123-1 (coverage data concepts and terminology) has been adopted in 2023
    • ISO 19123-3 (coverage processing concepts and terminology) has been adopted in 2023, it is based on WCPS
    • ISO 19123-2 (coverage implementation schema) is being updated in ongoing work 2024/2025. The update consists of adding OGC CIS 1.1 General Grid Coverage to 19123-2:2019 which is based on OGC CIS 1.0.
    • The central raster service of INSPIRE is INSPIRE-WCS which consists of OGC CIS, WCS, and WCPS together with INSPIRE-specific metadata - see the official Good Practice.

Bottom line, CIS + WCS + WCPS remain under continuous evolution.

Brief Overview on Coverage Threads beyond WCS

In the case of coverages, OAPI-Coverages and GeoDataCubes constitute additional activities in OGC. They heavily use WCS concepts as a blueprint but assume a different protocol binding.

* OAPI-Coverages is under evolution since several years and not yet proposed for an adoption vote. It is based on CIS.

* GeoDataCubes roughly speaking is planned to be a merge between OAPI-Coverages and OAPI-Processes, as far as can be seen today. Specification work has started recently. GeoDataCubes likewise will be based on CIS.

An important commonality is that all standards (WCS and WCPS), drafts (OAPI-Coverages), and ideas (GeoDataCubes) agree on using the OGC Coverage Implementation Schema (CIS).

On a side note, very often software writers trying out draft specifications have implemented OAPI-Coverages and GeoDataCube implement these as new facades on top of existing coverage service implementations (see, e.g., the coverages part of the OGC Testbed 19 Engineering Report).

-- PeterBaumann - 28 Jun 2024
Topic revision: r1 - 28 Jun 2024, PeterBaumann
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