Universal Display Format (UDF) for Optimized Real-Time Display of Geographic Data

Reference#: P01842

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory's "Universal Display Format (UDF)" provides a simplified, platform- and application-independent file format optimized for real-time display of geographical data. The UDF toolset converts a variety of data formats containing geographical information (Vmap, WVS, DNC, etc.) into points, symbols, lines, polygons, text, or images. The tools accept geographic data, parse it into uniform data types, and write the data, with position information and correct byte ordering, to a file. Data type positions are represented by standardized coordinate triplets (latitude, longitude, and altitude). Automatic byte-order checking and swapping compensates for differences in “Endian-ness” between the machines that create and display the UDF data. Data are displayed in real time through a callback mechanism that allows programs to use the UDF data without knowing the format details.

UDF is implemented as a module of C++ code that users can integrate into existing systems. Interface and integration of the UDF tools and data format into existing systems is not complex. Users simply need to include the UDF libraries and callback functions in their programs and understand the data return mechanism.

The UDF toolset has a number of advantages. It is fast, accurate, and optimized for use in applications that must display geographic information in real time. It provides a universal format into which a diversity of data formats can be converted, regardless of the platform being used and regardless of the byte ordering used by the UDF file creation and display machines. However, it is not currently a “stand-alone” product. Rather, it is a module of code that a user can integrate with other software. The UDF code is currently being used and tested in a variety of military applications. In one implementation, it interfaces with the Common Display Kernel (CDK) developed at JHU/APL. It has potential for use as a tool in many types of geographical information systems that display geographic data in real time (for example, mapping software, training simulators, and vehicle navigation systems). In addition, it could be integrated into computer applications such as games, interactive encyclopedias, or web sites that display directions and maps. Finally, it has potential for use in data processing applications that analyze geographic data, such as terrain analysis tools, radar masking applications, and tactical planning and situational awareness tools.

Ms. H. L. Curran
Phone: (443) 778-7262