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You are here: Web Soil Survey Home / Web Soil Survey 3.2 New Features

Web Soil Survey 3.2 — New Features and Fixes

Area of Interest (AOI) - added multi-part AOI feature

Single or Multi-Part AOIs

  • The Area of Interest multi-part feature is currently available on the Import AOI section in the Area of Interest (AOI) tab:
  • On the Area of Interest (AOI) tab, use Import AOI and then select Create AOI from Shapefile.
  • On the Area of Interest (AOI) tab, use Import AOI and then select Create AOI from Zipped Shapefile.

  • A single part AOI or multi-part AOI may be used to define the Area of Interest. An AOI part may intersect with one or more soil survey areas.

  • Note: You can still use the AOI rectangle or AOI polygon tools and create an AOI across one or more soil survey areas. In this case, the AOI consists of only a single part.

  • Before using the import features, you have to create a shapefile in ArcMap or any other related Geographic Information System (GIS) software. A shapefile may contain one or more AOI parts.
  • An input shape file contains an attribute table with one or more records. The optional “PartName” field has been added to represent the AOI part's name. This field is a "Text" field. The “PartName” field can contain up to 20 characters. If a record contains more than 20 characters, the AOI partname will contain the first 20 characters, and the remaining characters will be ignored.

  • The “PartName” field is not required and may not exist. If the “PartName” field does exist, there are two cases to consider for the record:
  •    1. The record contains zero or more whitespace characters. This is also known as an empty string. You can think of whitespace characters as simply blanks and can be created using the spacebar or the "tab" key on your keyboard.
  •    2. The record contains text, e.g. “My Farm”, or "Tilled Area".

  • There are four types of data for the shapefile attribute table's "PartName" field:
  •    1. No Field: The “PartName” field does not exist in the shapefile attribute table.
  •    2. Empty String: All “PartName” field records contain zero or more whitespace characters.
  •    3. Text: All “PartName” field records contain non-empty strings.
  •    4. Mixed: “PartName” field records contain a combination of the Empty String (zero or more whitespace characters) and Text (a non-empty string).

  • In the following example, the shapefile attribute table has 6 records. Notice the "PartName" field - this is the AOI part's name.
  • There are 2 records that are blank or the empty string, 2 records named "My Beef Farm", 1 record for "Ted's Ranch" and 1 record for "Fred's Dairy Farm".
In this case, the AOI Part Attribute Table displays six records.

  • Below is what is displayed in ArcMap. There are 6 AOI parts intersecting multiple soil survey areas (in this case 3 soil survey areas).
There are six AOI parts intersecting multiple soil survey areas.
  • Web Soil Survey allows you to create an AOI from a saved shapefile or zipped shapefile.

  • To create an AOI from a zipped shapefile:
  • In the Area of Interest panel, click Import AOI.
  • Click Create AOI from Zipped Shapefile.
  • Press the Browse... or Choose File button.
  • In the File Upload dialog, select a zipped shapefile, such as one you exported in an earlier Web Soil Survey session, and press Open or Choose.
  • Click the Set AOI button.
  • Web Soil Survey will create an AOI from your zipped shapefile.

  • To create an AOI from an unzipped shapefile instead:
  • Click Create AOI from Shapefile.
  • For the .shp file, press the Browse... or Choose File button.
  • In the File Upload dialog, select the .shp component from a shapefile, and press Open or Choose.
  • Next, for the .shx file, press the Browse... or Choose File button.
  • In the File Upload dialog, select the .shx component from the same shapefile, and press Open or Choose.
  • Next, for the .prj file, press the Browse... or Choose File button.
  • In the File Upload dialog, select the .prj component from the same shapefile, and press Open or Choose.
  • Optionally, for the .dbf file, press the Browse... or Choose File button.
  • In the File Upload dialog, select the .dbf component from the same shapefile, and press Open or Choose.
  • Click the Set AOI button.
  • Web Soil Survey will create an AOI from your shapefile.

  • Once the AOI is created, the interactive map displays the multiple areas. Notice the 6 imported shapefile records were resolved into the following 4 AOI part areas:
  • [unnamed]
  • My Beef Farm
  • Ted's Ranch
  • Fred's Dairy Farm

  • There are four cases to consider how Web Soil Survey resolves the “PartName” field:
  •    1. The “PartName” field does not exist: parts are named in sequential order as in #1, #2, #3, etc. For example, if there are two records in the shapefile, the first record will be named #1 and the second record will be named #2.
  •    2. The “PartName” field exists, and all PartNames are non-empty strings (i.e. they all contain text) and are unique: each part is named as specified within the shapefile.
  •    3. The “PartName” field exists and two or more PartNames repeat: the instances are unioned together. For example, two “My Farm” records are spatially unioned, and only one part name called “My Farm” is created.
  •    4. The “PartName” field exists and one or more parts are empty strings (i.e. zero or more whitespace characters): all empty strings are named as “[unnamed]”, and if more than one occurs, it is unioned with other “[unnamed]” records. For example, if two records are empty strings, only one part name called “[unnamed]” is created.

  • In our example, the 6 imported shapefile records were resolved into 4 AOI parts. This is because the two blank part names were combined into one "[unnamed]" part, and the two "My Beef Farm" records were combined into one "My Beef Farm" part. The other two records had single, uniquely named parts, "Ted's Ranch" and "Fred's Dairy Farm". Note that the polygon located at the bottom right containing the mapunit labels "NOTCOM" and "154" is also part of "My Beef Farm", and the polygon located at the bottom left containing the mapunit labels "154" and "114" is also part of "[unnamed]".
The six imported shapefile records were resolved into four AOI part areas.

  • On the AOI tab, the area acreage display also shows how the 4 AOI parts span across 3 soil survey areas.
The area acreage display for the four AOI parts.

  • The Area of Interest (AOI), Soil Map and Soil Data Explorer tabs have had their table outputs updated to incorporate the new multi-part AOI feature.
  • The Printable Version and Custom Soil Resource Report outputs have had their table outputs updated to incorporate the new multi-part AOI feature.


Thematic Map Downloads

New Features

  • When using the Identify Tool, you will notice the addition of the "ThematicMapID" value, a thematic map (Web Mercator) link, and a thematic data (Web Mercator) link. The thematic map ID and two hyperlinks refer to just the map currently displayed.
  • The Download Soils Data tab contains a feature for you to download the soils data package for your AOI. To perform the download, you click on the Download Link, save the zip file to your computer, unzip the file, and open the unzipped folder. Among the standard Soil Survey Geographic Database (SSURGO) files there will also be an additional folder named "thematic". When you perform an AOI download, you get all the thematic maps that have been created for that AOI in the current session.

Web Map Service

  • Web Map Service (WMS) returns the selected thematic map as an image file.
  • The link points to the Soil Data Access application, available at the following link: Soil Data Access, which contains more information about use of WMS.
  • Note that the link is transitory – it is guaranteed valid only as long as the current AOI remains active in Web Soil Survey.

Web Feature Service

  • Data, both the rating result and spatial boundaries are returned via Web Feature Service (WFS).
  • The link points to the Soil Data Access application, available at the following link: Soil Data Access, which contains more information about use of WFS.
  • Note that the link is transitory – it is guaranteed valid only as long as the current AOI remains active in Web Soil Survey.

  • The new features for Thematic Maps can be displayed by accessing the Soil Data Explorer tab and then selecting one of the following tabs: the Suitabilities and Limitations for Use tab, the Soil Properties and Qualities tab, or the Ecological Site Assessment tab (View All Ecological Sites Info).

  • The following steps describe how to display some of the new features for Thematic Maps:
  • Create an Area of Interest.
  • Navigate to the Soil Data Explorer tab and then the Suitabilities and Limitations for Use tab.
  • Choose one of the Suitabilities and Limitations Ratings. For example, select Land Classifications, then Soil Taxonomy Classification, and then press the "View Rating" button.
  • Press the Identify Tool on the toolbar, and in the "Identify" table notice there are three new items of interest:
  • A "ThematicMapID" value, a thematic map (Web Mercator) link, and a thematic data (Web Mercator) link.
  • The Thematic Map link will display a thematic map containing map unit polygons, map unit symbols, and rating colors with 100% opacity.
  • The Thematic data link will display a payload of Geography Markup Language (GML), an XML dialect which can be used to model geographic features.

  • A detailed thematic map can be produced by the following sample navigation. Navigate to the Soil Data Explorer tab, and then the Suitabilities and Limitations for Use tab. Run a rating through the following process. Select Suitabilities and Limitations Ratings, then Land Classifications, then Soil Taxonomy Classification and then press the View Rating button.

  • A portion of the on screen thematic map shown in WSS is displayed below.
This is an example of a portion of the on screen thematic map.

  • Pressing the Identify Tool on the toolbar, and clicking within a map polygon with a map unit label such as "MoE" displays the following "Identify" table. Notice the three new additions of "ThematicMapID", and the two hyperlinks, one for thematic map and the other for thematic data.

  • Note: The thematic map ID and the two hyperlinks refer to just the map currently displayed.
This is an example of the thematic map ID, and the thematic map and thematic data hyperlinks.

  • To display these new links and keep your Web Soil Survey web page open, right click on these links and select "Open Link in New Tab" from the context menu. The "ThematicMapID" is a unique ID value that will be referenced in the two hyperlink query strings and also in other WSS pages such as the Download Soils Data tab. The "thematic map" link will display a Portable Network Graphics or "PNG" image of the thematic map with 100% opacity. This link is a Web Map Service (WMS) link. A Web Map Service (WMS) is a standard protocol for serving over the Internet georeferenced map images which a map server generates using data from a Geographic Information System (GIS) database. For this example, the PNG image is displayed below:
This screen shot displays the thematic map.

  • The thematic data link will display an XML-like data payload in Geography Markup Language (GML). This link is a Web Feature Service (WFS) link. WFS provides an interface allowing requests for geographical features. For this example, a sample of the GML text is displayed below:
This screen shot displays a portion of the thematic data.

Area of Interest Download

  • When you request an AOI download from Web Soil Survey it will contain attribute and color data for re-creating the thematic maps that you requested for that AOI in your WSS session.
  • The downloaded zip file contains the Soil Survey Geographic Database (SSURGO) data for the AOI, as described in Description of Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) Database.

  • The Download Soils Data tab provides the AOI Download thematic map addition. Navigate to the Download Soils Data tab and press the "Create Download Link" button which creates the soils data download package for your AOI. Click on the Download Link, save the zip file to your computer and unzip the file. Then open the unzipped folder. In addition to the standard Soil Survey Geographic Database (SSURGO) files there will be a folder named "thematic" which contains the following files of thematic map data. When there are multiple thematic maps for an AOI there will be separate files for each thematic map with the ID number (NNNN) in the file name.
  • summary.txt is a single file that describes all the enclosed thematic data files, including the names and ID numbers of the interpretations or properties (collectively called "SDV Rules") used to create the maps.
  • parametersNNNN.txt lists the parameters used to create the thematic map whose ID number is NNNN. These are the same parameters that appear as "Advanced Options" in WSS when the thematic map was created. Parameters that don't apply to the map have values of null or zero.
This screen shot shows thematic map parameters.
  • legendNNNN.csv is a table of the rating classes and colors assigned to the SDV Rule, which can be used to create a map legend. The file is in comma-separated-value (CSV) format and contains two columns, "LegendText" and "RgbString". An RgbString is a hexadecimal representation of the red, green and blue color components.
  • legendNNNN.json contains the same data as legendNNNN.csv but in Java Script Object Notation (JSON).
  • filteredLegend.csv is in the same format as legendNNN.csv but includes only the text/color combinations that occur in the AOI.
  • filteredLegend.json contains the same data as filteredLegend.csv but in Java Script Object Notation (JSON) format.
  • ratingNNNN.csv is a table of the rating values and colors associated with each mapunit feature in the AOI. The columns of the table are:
  •    MapUnitKey -- the key value that matches up to the mukey column of the mapunit features.
  •    RatingStr -- the rating or class value for the mapunit expressed as a character string.
  •    RatingNum -- the numeric rating value used when the result data type is integer or float.
  •    RgbString -- the suggested color for painting the mapunit feature.
  •    ratingNNNN.json contains the same data as ratingNNNN.csv but in Java Script Object Notation (JSON) format.

  • The following steps are a typical example of how to use this data.
  • 1. Unzip the AOI download file to a convenient location on your computer.
  • 2. In ArcMap, using File/Add Data, connect to the folder containing the unzipped data.
  • 3. Drill into the "spatial" folder and select a shapefile to display. Usually this will be the mapunit polygons, file soilmu_a_aoi.shp.
  • 4. Add a second layer by navigating to the "thematic" folder of the download and selecting a file with a name like rating1234.csv.
  • 5. Join the mapunit layer to the rating layer using MUKEY as the join field.
This screen shot shows the Thematic Map ESRI Arc-GIS Join process.
  • 6. Adjust the Properties of the "soilmu_a_aoi" layer as needed. For Symbology, when you specify Categories you will find a field named RatingStr. This comes from the join with the rating file. Use this column for the categorization and pick an appropriate color ramp to see a thematic map similar to the one in WSS.


Scale Warnings

  • Scale warning messages have been added to map images embedded in Portable Document Format (PDF) files.
  • "Indefinite boundaries" are displayed on maps when zoomed in too closely. You will see this for on-screen maps, and the Printable Version and Custom Soil Resource Report.

  • The following screen shot displays the new scale warning message for a map image in a generated Portable Document Format (PDF) file.
Scale warning messages have been added to map images embedded in PDF files.

  • The following partial screen shot displays the new indefinite boundaries feature for an on-screen map. Indefinite boundaries will be shown for soil map unit polygons, lines and points. This particular screen shot shows soil map unit polygon and line boundaries.
A partial screen shot showing the new indefinite boundaries feature.


Interactive Map - performance improvements

  • In the Web Browser, Web Soil Survey will now concurrently "paint" separate map layers such as aerial photography and stream lines rather than waiting to collect all layers' data for map image display. This approach, called "Quick Maps", speeds up the map display and allows you to perform operations more quickly, just as soon as the "busy cursor" disappears.
  • In exchange for this concurrent layer display you may notice different layers being drawn at different times. For example, stream lines may appear before local streets, or the aerial photography may come in one small area at a time. You need not wait for all of this activity to complete. As soon as the busy cursor disappears, you may jump to another action such as panning, zooming, drawing an AOI, and so forth.
  • A side effect of using "Quick Maps" is that some labels may be obscured - for example, map unit labels may partially mask county names. If this is undesirable, you may disable "Quick Maps" as described below. The "Quick Maps" mechanism is not used for generating "Printable Version" documents or "Custom Soil Resource Reports", nor is it used for the soil map preview that can be displayed on the "Shopping Cart" page.
  • A second side effect of using Quick Maps is that you cannot directly “copy” the map image from your browser to paste it into a different application. Should you need to do this, disable “Quick Maps” (as described below) and then you will be able to “copy” the complete map image.

Quick Maps Preference

  • A new Quick Maps Preference has been added. From the top Web Soil Survey menu, choose Preferences then Application Preferences and then check or uncheck the Use Quick Maps preference.
A new Quick Maps preference has been added, titled 'Use Quick Maps'.

  • Preferences allows you to turn the "Quick Maps" option on and off. By default, Preferences has "Use Quick Maps" enabled (the check box is checked). To disable "Quick Maps", uncheck the "Use Quick Maps" checkbox. To save your changes, press the "Save Preferences" button.


New Internet Explorer Requirement

  • If the Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) browser is used, it must be version 11.
  • To see which IE version you are using in the IE browser, navigate to Help and then About Internet Explorer. A sample screen shot is shown below. If you are using an older version, please upgrade to version 11. A download is available on Microsoft's Internet Explorer website. Web Soil Survey can still be used with other browsers such as Firefox and Chrome.
If Internet Explorer is used, it must be version 11.


Bug Fixes

  • When a subtitle is entered on the Soil Map tab, the Shopping Cart tab's Table of Contents now displays this subtitle for a Soil Map.
  • Map Legend Information on the Printable Version (PV) and Custom Soil Resource Report (CSRR) no longer exceeds the margin boundary. Information continues to the next page.
  • Custom map legend settings are now shown in Printable Version (PV) Portable Document Format (PDF) maps.
  • On the Ecological Site tab, Ecological Site Assessment (ESA) information is displayed in numeric order.
  • Printable Version (PV) and Custom Soil Resource Report (CSRR) subtitle special characters are shown correctly. This includes the following characters: ampersand, less than sign, greater than sign, double quotes, a single quote, em-dash and en-dash.
  • The caption for the Ecological Site Assessment (ESA) State Transition Diagram in the Portable Document Format (PDF) form displays the "em-dash" character ("—") correctly.