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Search the WMS Database

Introduction to the WMS Database

The Mapping Toolbox™ contains a database of over 1,000 stored WMS servers and over 100,000 layers. MathWorks® creates this database, called the WMS Database, by conducting a series of Internet searches and qualifying the search results.


MathWorks cannot guarantee the stability and accuracy of WMS data, as the servers listed in the WMS Database are located on the Internet and are independent from MathWorks. Occasionally, you may receive error messages from servers experiencing difficulties. Servers can go down or become unavailable.

wmsfind is the only WMS function that accesses the stored WMS Database. By default, wmsfind searches the WMS database installed with the product. Using the Version parameter, you can also search a version of the WMS database hosted on the MathWorks website or a WMS database from a previous release. The information found in the database installed with the product is static and is not automatically updated—it was validated at the time of the software release. The web-hosted database is updated regularly.


Searching the web-hosted version of the WMS database requires a connection to the Internet. If you encounter problems, refer to Troubleshoot Access to the Hosted WMS Database for tips.

The WMS Database contains the following fields.

Field NameData TypeField Content
ServerTitleCharacter vectorTitle of the WMS server, descriptive information about the server
ServerURLCharacter vectorURL of the WMS server
LayerTitle Character vectorTitle of the layer, descriptive information about the layer
LayerNameCharacter vectorName of the layer, keyword the server uses to retrieve the layer
LatlimTwo-element vectorSouthern and northern latitude limits of the layer
LonlimTwo-element vectorWestern and eastern longitude limits of the layer

The LayerTitle and LayerName fields sometimes have the same values. The LayerName indicates a code used by the servers, such as '29:2', while the LayerTitle provides more descriptive information. For instance, 'Elevation and Rivers with Backdrop' is a LayerTitle.

For an example of searching the WMS database, see Find Temperature Data in the WMS Database.

Find Temperature Data in the WMS Database

For this example, assume that you work as a research scientist and study the relationship between global warming and plankton growth. Increased plankton growth leads to increased carbon dioxide absorption and reduced global warming. The sea surface temperature is already rising, however, which may reduce plankton growth in some areas. You begin investigating this complex relationship by mapping sea surface temperature.

  1. Search the WMS Database for temperature data. By default, wmsfind searches the WMS database installed with the product. You can also search a version of the WMS database hosted on the MathWorks website, or a database from a previous release. Searching the web-hosted database requires a connection to the Internet.

    layers = wmsfind('temperature');
    By default, wmsfind searches both the LayerName and LayerTitle fields of the WMS Database for partial matches. The function returns an array of WMSLayer objects, which contains one object for each layer whose name or title partially matches 'temperature'.

  2. Click layers in the Workspace browser and then click one of the objects labeled <1x1 WMSLayer>.

         ServerTitle: 'NASA SVS Image Server'
           ServerURL: ''
          LayerTitle: 'Background Image for Global Sea Surface
                      Temperature from June, 2002 to September,
                      2003 (WMS)'
           LayerName: '2905_17492_bg'
              Latlim: [-90.0000 90.0000]
              Lonlim: [-180.0000 180.0000]
            Abstract: '<Update using WMSUPDATE>'
    CoordRefSysCodes: '<Update using WMSUPDATE>'
             Details: '<Update using WMSUPDATE>'

    A WMSLayer object contains three fields that do not appear in the WMS Database—Abstract, CoordRefSysCodes, and Details. (By default, these fields do not display in the command window if they are not populated with wmsupdate. For more information, see Update Your Layer in the Mapping Toolbox User's Guide.)


WMSLayer is one of several objects related to WMS. If you are new to object-oriented programming, you can learn more about objects, methods, and properties in Classes.

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