|The National Atlas of Canada has been in existence for 100 years with the first edition published in 1906 and the latest paper edition closing in 1993. With the closing of the fifth edition came a
period of experimentation with changing content approach and vastly different communications avenues. The National Atlas was one of the very first interactive atlases on the web and this is still the major media for distribution of our information.
The changing technology and content approach has lead to a new conceptual approach for the National Atlas of Canada. The Atlas is no longer a stand-alone paper product but an integral part of the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI) and
the government of Canada's contribution to the CGDI, GeoConnections.
Part of being the link between people and geographic information is offering varying levels of interaction with visualisation tools. The new software developed for the National
Atlas of Canada using ESRI Map Objects offers the ability to provide different interfaces for varying audiences with appropriate functionality for each user group. Sophisticated users may want to complete complex searches and be able to combine a
wide variety of information to make their own unique maps. A person at home wanting to find out about Climate Change may want already composed maps with only pan and zoom with a simple query function. These different interfaces are possible, using
the same data base and the same set of function.
Fundamental to the National Atlas will be a set of framework and base layers. Up to now the National Atlas has always produced its own small-scale base maps. With access to reliable, larger scale
bases such as the Digital Chart of the World the need for in-house base maps is changing. Algorithms are being tested that will link the National Atlas to a reliable world base map. Users can visualise geographic information based on common base maps
and frameworks, but they need ways to access data and find ways to further resources.
GeoGratis provides access to free data and CEONet a means for locating other related geospatial data. The National Atlas of Canada is well connected into the
Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure and therefore the world. Through a review of the CGDI and its interconnections, the current concept and future direction of the National Atlas of Canada will be discussed.