Announcing Natural Earth v2.0.0, release candidate 2

The 2.0.0 release focuses on 6 major areas and is available to download today as preview release candidate 2.

  1. Economic geography: added global roads, railroads, ports, and airports to show how people are interconnected and routes goods move.
  2. Remastered geometries: fixed topological errors at 1:10 to 1:1,000 scales in the basic coastline, ocean, land, admin-0, and admin-1 related themes. By removing self-intersections, sliver polygons, and adjusting offset polygons, Natural Earth will import into more GIS software (like PostGIS) and be easier to maintain. The coastline was also adjusted to better conform to ~1:3,000,000 satellite imagery. Because of all these changes, some raster themes were also updated.
  3. New file name and field name schemas. Full adoption of ne_10m_theme_name.shp file names with `ne_` prefix to allow better import into GeoDB and PostGIS storage, lowercase field (column) names instead of MiXeD and UPPER cased names, and use of consistent `name` field (versus name1).
  4. Address user submitted bug reports, ~20 since the 1.4 release.
  5. Moved to Github for the backend versioned file management and coordination.
  6. Adopt semantic versioning. Know, by theme, if new changes in Natural Earth affect your project. See below for more information.


Please submit bugs or other oddness found release candidate 2 to myself by September 10th. The plan is to cut a final 2.o.0 release by the end of September. A full change log will accompany the final release.

Sample images:

Global roads:

London, Paris, Amsterdam


New scale ranking on North American roads. Better matches with global roads, and OpenStreetMap:

DC and NYC with extra roads

Administrative units 0 and 1 have been completely remastered:

New admin-1 (states, provinces) for Natural Earth 2.0

Urban areas are now scaleranked, and false urban areas removed (mostly Nevada desert errors):

New urban scale ranks, Tokyo

Semantic Versioning

The 2.0 release in 2012 marked the project’s shift from so-called marketing versions to semantic versioning.

Natural Earth is a big project with hundreds of files that depend on each other and the total weighs in at several gigabytes. SemVer is a simple set of rules and requirements around version numbers. For our project, the data layout is the API.

  • Version format of X.Y.Z (Major.Minor.Patch).
  • Backwards incompatible changes, increment the major version X.
  • Backwards compatible additions/changes, increment the minor version Y
  • Bug fixes not affecting the file and field names, patch version Z will be incremented.

Major version increments:

  • Changing existing data file names
  • Changing existing data column (field) names
  • Removing FeatureCla field attribute values
  • Additions, deletions to admin-0
  • Introduce significant new themes

Minor version increments:

  • Any shape or attribute change in admin-0
  • Additions, deletions, and any shape or attribute changes in admin-1
  • Additions, deletions to any theme
  • Major shape or attribute changes in any theme
  • Adding, changing FeatureCla field attribute values
  • Introduce minor new themes

Patch version increments:

  • Minor shape or attribute changes in any theme
  • Bug fixes to shape, attributes in any theme

Under this scheme, version numbers and the way they change convey meaning about the underlying code and what has been modified from one version to the next.

When we introduce a new version of Natural Earth, you can tell by the version number how much effort you will need to extend to integrate the data with your map implementation.

  • Bug fixes Z: can simply use the new data files, replacing your old files.
  • Minor version Y: limited integration challenges.
  • Major version X: significatnt integration challenges, either around changed file strucutre, field layout, field values likeFeatureCla used in symbolizing data, or significant new additions or significant changes to existing themes.

Comments are closed.