An Update on


This post was updated 02/01/2018 to reflect the new name of the service. logo

Back in May, we announced plans for, with our goal being to advance the state of the art for 3D geospatial data on the web. We haven’t spoken much about it since then, but that’s because we’ve been focused on making it a reality. We are now rolling out our first round of beta invites, and we thought it was finally time to give everyone an overview of what we’ve been working on.

The first thing you may have noticed is that is now! We want to be useful to everyone, not just developers, and dropping js from the name helps signify that. The Cesium ecosystem has grown beyond our humble beginnings as a single JavaScript library and now includes multiple open source projects, open specifications, open standards, and now a new web application and associated REST API.

Introducing Cesium ion

Perhaps one of the most ambitious things we’ve been working on is Cesium ion, an online authoring tool designed to make it easy to build and share Cesium applications without writing code.

An overview of the main user interface panels in ion.

ion allows you to upload imagery, terrain, and other geospatial data and otherwise interactively design and build a Cesium project. You can select from a set of available user interface components for your project, create stored camera views to help users navigate your data, and create annotations to provide context and measurements. When you’re ready, you can enable sharing of your project and retrieve a link ready to post to social media or to hand out privately to colleagues.


We have big plans for ion. We are adding interactive styling of 3D Tiles tilesets, developing a suite of 3D geospatial analysis tools for generating viewsheds and terrain profiles, and adding screen overlays and map legends, just to name a few capabilities that will be coming.

The Dashboard

Less visually exciting but equally important, we’ve created a Dashboard for managing the projects you create in ion as well as the data you upload for processing and hosting. If you’re looking for data, the Dashboard also features a library of free and premium data, which we call the Data Depot.

Dashboard lets you manage your projects and data.

As of today, users can upload a few different kinds of data:

  • GeoTIFF images, which get automatically tiled into imagery layers.
  • Pre-generated STK Terrain Server terraindb files.
  • Pre-generated 3D Tiles tilesets.

This list barely scratches the surface of our plans, and we’re already working on support for more formats:

  • GeoJSON, KML, shapefiles, CityGML, and other formats processed into 3D Tiles.
  • Raw terrain data, such as DTED and tiff, processed into quantized mesh.
  • Additional imagery types, such as JP2 and non-georectified PNGs and JPGs.
  • COLLADA and OBJ files processed into glTF.


For developers, the processing, hosting, and analytical capabilities that power will also be available as a set of REST services for use in custom applications (Cesium-based or otherwise). Almost anything you can do on will also be available programmatically through the API.

Moving Forward

Expect a lot more details and communication from us in the coming months as we start more frequent updates. Since much of our work is open source, you can also follow along with Cesium development on our forum and GitHub repository. For example, we’ve started the gltf-pipeline and obj2gltf projects to use in the server’s 3D Tiles pipeline.

Head over to and sign up. Joining the beta will not only get you early access before we launch an open beta, but also give you the opportunity to provide feedback that helps shape going forward.

Get started with Cesium ion  

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