[mapserver-dev] Server-side Simplication Speed-up

thomas bonfort thomas.bonfort at gmail.com
Sun Apr 8 06:05:11 EDT 2012

I'm somewhat suspicious as to the real-world usage of such a feature:

Quality-wise, st_simplify produces some invalid geometries that have
to be filtered out, resulting in corrupt output when you are
visualizing adjacent features. If you have a look at this map
http://t.co/KVaLpOV1 (which I suppose has this feature incorporated,
if not my reasoning is wrong) and zoom out far enough you'll see that
all the discarded features make up for a corrupt output. Basically
it's correct to filter out a tiny feature when it's on its own, but
not when it is topologically linked to surrounding features.

Performance-wise, you are getting a speedup when the scale of the data
you are rendering is grossly out of scale compared to the scale at
which you are rendering it. When rendering openstreetmap data, this
happens on the first zoom levels, and so this 75% speedup concerns
only a fraction of the renderings that occur when seeding a complete
tileset. Openstreetmap data imported with Imposm would benefit much
less from this feature, as it generates simplified geometries that can
be used to avoid using out-of-scale data.

For MapServer, we already have a simplification routine happening,
(ticket https://github.com/mapserver/mapserver/issues/2381 discusses
the issue, and links to the nabble discussion that happened on -dev) .
It works at the pixel level (once the features have been transformed
from geometry space to pixel space), and as such does not need to know
at what scale the data is being rendered in (basically, a feature
that's smaller than a pixel, or two successive vertices closer to each
other than a pixel, are candidates for simplification). Supposing
postgis's st_simplify isn't more efficient than mapserver's
simplication algorithm (which I hope it is not, mapserver's one is
really stupid :) ), the only gain we could hope for with this feature
is the time taken to send the data down the wire from postgis to
mapserver, and eventually the overhead of allocating a larger number
of points than what will actually be rendered. Unless my reasoning is
flawed or someone can show me the hard numbers that we have something
to gain from this, I think that changing our input data vtables is too
big a cost for the hypothetic speedup that would occur in only a minor
percent of the actual renders.

Best regards,


On Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 20:59, Paul Ramsey <pramsey at opengeo.org> wrote:
> Sandro working on MapNik says that this change
> https://github.com/mapnik/mapnik/issues/1136
> running an "appropriate" st_simplify on the geometries before sending
> them over the wire to the renderer, gave up to 75% speedups on
> rendering complicated items.
> In order to try it out on MapServer, the PostGIS driver needs to know
> two things:
> - what's the resolution being rendered to? this I can pick up out of
> the mapObj easily I think, tracing back up from the layerObj passed
> into the driver
> - is this a rendering call to the driver, or a feature access call?
> this is harder... I need to distinguish between calls to the driver
> that are going to use the features for rendering and those that are
> going to send them back to the requester as data. Is there an obvious
> global way to figure this out from the driver level?
> P.
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