Interactive Region Reduction App

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Author(s): jdbcode
This tutorial demonstrates how to use the drawing tools API with a custom interface to make a simple Earth Engine App that charts an NDVI time series for a user-drawn geometry. The app provides options for drawing a rectangle, polygon, or point. It listens for when a user draws a geometry and displays a chart of mean NDVI for pixels intersecting the drawn geometry.

The Earth Engine App resulting from this tutorial. Shown is an NDVI time series chart for the drawn polygon around Carmel Valley, California.


The app has two main functions: 1) allow a user to draw a geometry and; 2) render a region reduction time series chart for the drawn geometry. Clicking a "draw" button will allow a user to draw a geometry, and once the drawing is complete, the chart will render. These two events (button click to draw and drawing finished) need associated functions to complete the event-callback cycle.

Custom drawing tools

Before defining callback functions, setup drawingTools for custom use.

1. Get the drawing tools widget object; define it as a variable for convenience in recalling it later.

var drawingTools = Map.drawingTools();

2. Hide the default drawing tools so you can add your own. You can use the default drawing tools for interactive region reduction, but they provide more functionality than is needed when simplicity is the goal.


3. Setup a while loop to clear all existing geometries that have been added as imports from drawing tools (from previously running the script). The design of the app is to handle charting a time series for a single geometry, so remove any that exist.

while (drawingTools.layers().length() > 0) {
  var layer = drawingTools.layers().get(0);

4. Initialize a dummy GeometryLayer with null geometry to act as a placeholder for drawn geometries.

var dummyGeometry =
    ui.Map.GeometryLayer({geometries: null, name: 'geometry', color: '23cba7'});


Event callback functions

Define callback functions to enable drawing and chart rendering, they will be attached to event listeners in the following sections.

Drawing buttons

Define a series of functions that are called when geometry drawing buttons are clicked: one for clearing the previous geometry from the GeometryLayer and one for each drawing mode button (rectangle, polygon, and point).

1. Define the geometry clearing function.

function clearGeometry() {
  var layers = drawingTools.layers();

2. Define functions that will be called when each respective drawing button is clicked. Each function will clear previous drawings using the clearGeometry function and then initialize drawing for the particular drawing mode.

function drawRectangle() {

function drawPolygon() {

function drawPoint() {

Regional time series chart

1. Define a panel to hold the time series chart. Set the shown style parameter to false to initially hide the panel until the first chart is rendered.

var chartPanel = ui.Panel({
      {height: '235px', width: '600px', position: 'bottom-right', shown: false}

2. Add the panel to the Map.


3. Define a function that gets called on geometry drawing completion and editing events to generate an NDVI time series chart for the drawn region. See code comments for an explanation of each step. In summary, the function shows the chart panel on the first drawing event, clears previously rendered charts, gets the drawn geometry, calculates the region reduction scale based on the Map scale, and renders a chart in the chart panel.

function chartNdviTimeSeries() {
  // Make the chart panel visible the first time a geometry is drawn.
  if (!'shown')) {'shown', true);

  // Get the drawn geometry; it will define the reduction region.
  var aoi = drawingTools.layers().get(0).getEeObject();

  // Set the drawing mode back to null; turns drawing off.

  // Reduction scale is based on map scale to avoid memory/timeout errors.
  var mapScale = Map.getScale();
  var scale = mapScale > 5000 ? mapScale * 2 : 5000;

  // Chart NDVI time series for the selected area of interest.
  var chart = ui.Chart.image
                    imageCollection: ee.ImageCollection('MODIS/006/MOD13A2'),
                    regions: aoi,
                    reducer: ee.Reducer.mean(),
                    band: 'NDVI',
                    scale: scale,
                    xProperty: 'system:time_start'
                    titlePostion: 'none',
                    legend: {position: 'none'},
                    hAxis: {title: 'Date'},
                    vAxis: {title: 'NDVI (x1e4)'},
                    series: {0: {color: '23cba7'}}

  // Replace the existing chart in the chart panel with the new chart.

4. Set the drawing tools widget to listen for geometry drawing and editing events and respond with the chartNdviTimeSeries function.

Note that ui.util.debounce wraps the chartNdviTimeSeries function to reduce the frequency of it being invoked while drawing and editing a geometry. Here, the delay is set to 500 milliseconds or 0.5 seconds.

drawingTools.onDraw(ui.util.debounce(chartNdviTimeSeries, 500));
drawingTools.onEdit(ui.util.debounce(chartNdviTimeSeries, 500));

User interface

This section defines the drawing control panel, which contains instructions and drawing tool buttons.

1. Define a dictionary of symbols to augment the text label for each of the geometry buttons defined in the following step. The symbols are kept separate from the text to avoid unexpected cursor behavior when mixing symbols and text.

var symbol = {
  rectangle: '⬛',
  polygon: '🔺',
  point: '📍',

2. Define a ui.Panel to hold app instructions and the geometry drawing buttons. Use a ui.Label for each instruction line and a ui.Button for each of the three geometry drawing options. Button labels are the concatenation of the symbols defined in the previous step and text. Set the onClick parameter to each respective drawing mode callback function defined above.

var controlPanel = ui.Panel({
  widgets: [
    ui.Label('1. Select a drawing mode.'),
      label: symbol.rectangle + ' Rectangle',
      onClick: drawRectangle,
      style: {stretch: 'horizontal'}
      label: symbol.polygon + ' Polygon',
      onClick: drawPolygon,
      style: {stretch: 'horizontal'}
      label: symbol.point + ' Point',
      onClick: drawPoint,
      style: {stretch: 'horizontal'}
    ui.Label('2. Draw a geometry.'),
    ui.Label('3. Wait for chart to render.'),
        '4. Repeat 1-3 or edit/move\ngeometry for a new chart.',
        {whiteSpace: 'pre'})
  style: {position: 'bottom-left'},
  layout: null,

3. Add the panel to the Map.



The following animation is the result of putting the entire script together and publishing it as an Earth Engine App. The simplicity of this custom drawing tool interface and automatic clearing of the previous drawing and plot will allow you and your app users to focus on exploring data instead of geometry management.

Learn more about the drawing tools API in the Getting Started with Drawing Tools tutorial.