Archive for the ‘Mashup’ Category

Natural Earth Browser from Thematic Mapping

Monday, January 4th, 2010

[Editor’s note: Bjorn over at his Thematic Mapping Blog has done up a Natural Earth tile set using open source tools. How have you been using Natural Earth?]

Excerpted from Thematic Mapping Blog.

My holiday project, apart from skiing, was to play with the new Natural Earth dataset. By combing raster and vector data you can make a variety of visually pleasing maps. You can use my Natural Earth Browser to study the great linework of Natural Earth.
Natural Earth Browser was created with a variety of open source tools. Map tiles from raster data was created with MapTiler and optimised with pngng. Map tiles from vector data was styled with Mapnik and pre-genereated with TileCache. The map interface is based on OpenLayers, Ext JS and GeoExt.
Continue reading at Thematic Mapping Blog . . .

Flash AS3 versus HTML 5+ (Mike @ Teczno)

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

canvasmappingtag[Editor's note: Even with Adobe's open sourcing the Flash ActionScript 3.0 compiler, the HTML community continues to push for abandoning the platform in favor newer markup languages that center around the canvas tags. Slowly this is becoming more of a reality as the markup becomes more powerful and the rendering engines faster. We're still not their yet, and I'll be programming in AS3 for a while more yet. But something to ponder.]

Republished from Teczno.

the future is staring us in the face

That’s the line we use around the office whenever the subject of HTML and canvas comes up – we use Adobe Flash for most everything now, but we don’t expect that situation to last forever. The work done by Mozilla on Gecko and Apple on WebKit is one possible future for online design and visualization, and it’s turning slowly to face us right about now.

A few developments during recent years have brought us here.

One of the first widespread demonstrations of canvas viability as an interactive medium came from legendary Javascript developer John Resig, who ported the popular educational / artistic Processing environment to Javascript and released Processing.js to the world in May 2008 or so, just about 1 1/2 years ago. At the time, the library was lauded as an “amazing hack” (Andy Baio). Christopher Blizzard said:

The web is going to win, filling the market niche where Flash and other similar technologies found their hold. And John’s little project can hopefully act as a great catalyst to take us there. Thanks, John!

Continue reading at Teczno and play with live mapping demo . . .

Introducing a new OSM editor… Potlatch 2 (Open Geo Data)

Monday, December 14th, 2009

[Editor’s note: This tool from the OpenStreetMaps.org cohort is open source and written in ActionScript 3.0. It displays OSM information in vector format for editing and tagging. Use it in concert with the MapZen iPhone app for capturing points of interest (POI) in the field.]

Republished from OpenGeoData. Nov. 30, 2009.

OpenStreetMap users will know all about Potlatch, the online editor that appears when you click the ‘Edit’ tab on the site. Well, there’s a whole new version coming soon!

Potlatch 2 is a complete rewrite still with the same principle in mind: an editor which hits the right balance between speed, ease-of-use, and flexibility. It’s under very active development at the moment and I’ll include a link at the end of this post where you can have a look.

But there are four big new features – and one behind-the-scenes change – to tell you about first.

New feature – friendly tagging system

Potlatch 2 has a friendly, intuitive tagging system. The mapper can use graphical menus, dedicated fields, and icons to get the tagging just right – without the need to remember tag names and values.

For example, you can choose highway types from a set of icons, then add a speed limit by selecting the appropriate restriction sign.

Potlatch 2 tag editor

All this is fully customisable using a straightforward presets file. Using this, you can create your own favourite tag combinations.

New feature – WYSIWYG rendering

Potlatch 2 has an all-new rendering engine far in advance of the current one.

With road names, patterned fills, rotated icons, and much more, the editing experience can be like working live on the familiar Mapnik rendering, the cyclemap, Osmarender, or anything you like -making it much more approachable for the beginner.

The Halcyon renderer used in Potlatch 2

Just like the tagging, the rendering is easy to customise. It uses a special form of CSS, called MapCSS, which lets you create wonderful-looking maps with just a few lines of text. The tagging and rendering together make Potlatch 2 ideal for ‘vertical’ mapping applications, such as a cycle-specific editor or a building/addressing editor. Stylesheets aren’t just about making the map look pretty: you can create stylesheets to help your mapping, such as one that highlights roads without names.

The rendering engine (Halcyon) is available as a compact (<100k) standalone component which you can embed in webpages, so your custom maps can be used outside Potlatch 2.

Continue reading at OpenGeoData . . .

What’s Cooking on Thanksgiving (NY Times)

Friday, December 11th, 2009

[Editor’s note: This series of small choropleth interactive maps from Matthew Ericson and Amanda Cox back on Thanksgiving day show regional patterns of what Americas are eating where. One holiday down, another to go. Thanks Kristin and Martin!]

Republished from the New York Times.

As cooks turn to the Web for Thanksgiving recipes, the terms they enter into search engines can provide clues to what dishes are being cooked around the nation. On Wednesday on Allrecipes.com, “sweet potato casserole” was by far the most common search term nationwide. It was tops in 36 of the 50 states and easily outpaced the No. 2 entry, “pumpkin pie.” |Related Article »


nytimes_tnxgiving_map

Affordable Housing Mashup (Envisioning Development)

Friday, December 11th, 2009

wholiveshere

[Editor's note: Google mashup with fun charting trying to make sense out of simple yet complicated subject.]

Republished from EnvisioningDevelopment.net.

“Affordable Housing.” The phrase seems plain enough, but it doesn’t always mean what people think it does! It actually has a technical government definition that can determine what gets built and who lives there. Use these tools to answer the all-important question: “Affordable to whom?

What Is Affordable Housing? from the Center for Urban Pedagogy on Vimeo.

A stop-action animation on the technical definitions of affordable housing — by Rosten Woo and John Mangin of CUP, animator/designer Jeff Lai, and Glen Cummings of MTWTF. Narrated by Lisa Burriss. Sound by Rosten Woo.

Natural Earth Released, Let the Downloads Begin!

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Tom and I are pleased to announce the immediate availability of Natural Earth, free vector and raster map data at 1:10m, 1:50m, and 1:110m scales. This is a NACIS and MapGiving co-branded product with assistance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison cartography lab, Florida State University, and others.

Do you have a new theme to contribute to Natural Earth? Great! Please follow these data creation guidelines so it fits in with the rest of the project. Find an error? Log it via the Corrections system.

Why Create Natural Earth?

We have two goals:

First, to give cartographers an off-the shelf solution for creating small-scale world, regional, and country maps. To this end, Natural Earth Vector includes both cultural and physical features and builds on Tom Patterson’s Natural Earth raster data, first introduced in 2005.

Second, we include many features missing from people’s mental map of the world in the hope of improving overall geographic literacy.

Natural Earth Vector solves a problem that many NACIS members face: finding vector data for making publishable-quality small-scale maps. In a time when the web is awash in interactive maps and free, downloadable vector data, such as Digital Chart of the World and VMAP, mapmakers are forced to spend time sifting through a confusing tangle of poorly attributed data. Many cartographers working under tight project deadlines must use manually digitalized bases instead.

Small-scale map datasets of the world do exist, but they have their problems.

For example, most are crudely generalized—Chile’s fjords are a noisy mess, the Svalbard archipelago is a coalesced blob, and Hawaii has disappeared into the Pacific two million years ahead of schedule. They contain few data layers, usually only a coast and country polygons, which may not be in register with each other or modern satellite imagery. The lack of good small-scale map data is not surprising. Large mapping organizations that release public domain data, such as the US Geological Survey, are not mandated to create small-scale map data for a small user community that includes mapmaking shops, publishers, web mappers, academics, and students—in other words, typical NACIS members. Natural Earth Vector fills this oft-overlooked but important niche.

Collaboration

Making Natural Earth Vector is a collaboration involving many volunteer NACIS members. Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso and Tom Patterson began working on the project in late 2008. Following the path of least resistance, the idea was to repurpose existing data that we already had as an integrated world dataset at three map scales.

The 1:50 million and 1:110 million-scale data comes from bases developed by Dick Furno and additional staff at the Washington Post for quick turnaround newspaper mapping— the Washington Post Legal Department kindly granted us permission to use these data. The kernel for the 1:10 million data was a compilation by Patterson for the Physical Map of the World, consisting of coastlines, rivers, lakes, and physical feature labels. Expanding and improving on this foundation has been our chief activity.

The core team grew to include Tanya Buckingham, who coordinates data attributing by Ben Coakley, Kevin McGrath and Sarah Bennett at the University of Wisconsin Cartography Lab; Dick Furno as populated places guru; Nick Springer as the website developer; and Lou Cross as NACIS liaison.

A cast of consultants, many regulars on the Cartotalk.com discussion forum, assisted with place names for various world regions. They include Leo Dillon, Hans van der Maarel, Will Pringle, Craig Molyneaux, Melissa Katz-Moye, Laura McCormick, Scott Zillmer and fellow staff at XNR Mapping.

Data for cartography

We developed a world base map data suitable for making a variety of visually pleasing, well-crafted maps. Unlike other map data intended for scientific analysis or military mapping, Natural Earth Vector is designed to meet the needs of mainstream production cartographers. Maximum flexibility was a goal. For example, Natural Earth Vector comes in ESRI shapefile format, the Geographic projection, and WGS datum, which are de facto standards for vector geodata.

Neatness counts with Natural Earth Vector. The carefully generalized linework maintains consistent, recognizable geographic shapes at 1:10m, 1:50m, and 1:110m scales. As Natural Earth Vector was built from the ground up, you will find that all data layers align precisely with one another. For example, where rivers and country borders are one and the same, the lines are coincident.

Natural Earth Vector, however, is more than just a collection of pretty lines. What lies beneath the surface, the data attributes, is equally important for mapmaking. Most data contain embedded feature names, which are ranked by relative importance. Up to eight rankings per data theme allow easy custom map “mashups” to emphasize your map’s subject while de-emphasizing reference features.

Other attributes facilitate faster map production. For example, width attributes assigned to rivers allow you to create tapered drainages with ease. Assigning different colors to contiguous country polygons is another task made easier thanks to data attribution.

Other key features:

  • Vector feature include name attributes and scale ranks – know the Rocky Mountains are larger than the Ozarks.
  • Large polygons, such as bathymetric layers, are split for more efficient data handling.
  • Projection friendly—vectors precisely match at 180 degrees longitude. Lines contain enough data points for smooth bending in conic projections, but not so many that processing speed suffers.
  • Raster data includes grayscale-shaded relief and cross-blended hypsometric tints derived from the latest NASA SRTM Plus elevation data and tailored to register with Natural Earth Vector.
  • Optimized for use in web mapping applications, such as Google, Yahoo, and OpenStreetMaps with built-in scale attributes to direct features to be shown at different tile zoom levels.

Data development

Since Natural Earth Vector is for visual mapmaking, we prepared the base layers in Adobe Illustrator in conjunction MAPublisher import and export filters. Illustrator offered us flexible tools for editing lines and polygons, organizing data on layers, and the ability to inspect the final data in a map-like form. A variety of third-party plug-in filters and scripts, some written by Kelso, were essential for linework generalization and other tasks.

World Data Bank 2 was the primary vector data source that required significant modifications. For example, we found that the entire west coast of the United States was about seven miles west of its true position and adjusted it accordingly. Slight adjustments to river positions better matched them to shaded relief derived from more satellite data. For Antarctica, we completely abandoned World Data Bank 2. Here, the coast, glaciers, and ice shelves derive from 2003-2004 NASA Mosaic of Antarctica, a MODIS product. We also updated the data to reflect recent ice shelf collapses.

Contributors from around the globe researched additional feature names beyond those original to Patterson’s Physical Map of the World. Attributing the data was performed in ArcGIS by the team at the University of Wisconsin and by Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso at The Washington Post.

Future activity

We regard the initial release of Natural Earth Vector as a starter dataset that will see periodic updates. With any project as complex as this, flaws and omissions are bound to emerge, requiring our attention. One proposal is to form a Natural Earth map data committee that will incorporate information from users, perhaps using a Wiki model, for coordinating updates. Rivers, lakes, cities, and first order admin are components still in need of refinement. Possible data for future updates include transportation (roads and railroads), time zones, and terrestrial hypsography.

If you have ideas for Natural Earth or
want to show off how you’re using the data,
please drop us a line.

Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso
nathaniel@kelsocartography.com

Tom Patterson
mtmaps@verizon.net

Where is the Berlin Wall now? (BBC)

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

[Editor’s note: Twenty years ago this week the Berlin Wall came down (history from the Guardian) and with it the Cold War unraveled. I don’t remember the Challengar exploding but I do remember watching the slabs fall on the late night news broadcast. Check out the wall in Vegas in this photo mashup from the BBC showing where pieces of the wall have ended up. Also read story in today’s Washington Post about a school in Maryland which recreated the wall for a day.]

Republished from the BBC.

When the Berlin Wall fell down in November 1989, parts of it were chipped off and taken away by locals and tourists. Some people took segments as souvenirs and some pieces were given to institutions around the world.

Use this interactive map to see how far the wall has spread around the globe, and where large sections of it are on public display. If you have a piece of the wall, tell us using the form below.

(Screenshot below)

Interact with the original at the BBC . . .

bbc_berlin_wall_map_mashup

Embeddable US Demographics Map (ESRI via FreeGeoTools)

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

[Editor's note: This was demo'd at NACIS earlier this month. Raster thematic map tiles delivered via Flash API that are still interactive. ESRI's solution to Google mashups.]

Republished from Free Geography Tools.

As a demo of the ArcGIS API for Flex, ESRI has a new page that lets you create an embeddable/shareable map of demographic data by US county. Only seven datasets available now:

  • Median Household Income
  • Population Change 2000-2009
  • Population Density (per sq. mile)
  • Median Home Value
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Average Household Size
  • Median Age

Map creation is trivially easy – select the demographic dataset from a dropdown, zoom the map to the desired extents, set a map size in pixels, and you’re done; links to a map with your parameters, and code for an embeddable map, are generated automatically. Here’s an embedded map, scrollable and zoomable; unemployment rate is the default dataset, but you can choose other sets with the dropdown menu at upper right:

More datasets would be nice, as would control over colors and ranges …

Interact with the original at Free Geography Tools . . .

esri-demographic-map-us

read-write mapping: NACIS Conference Keynote by Michal Migurski of Stamen Design

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

[Editor's note: I'm just getting back from the annual NACIS conference and decompressing from backpacking, family and friends in the Golden State. Our great keynote speaker this year was Michal Migurski of Stamen Design who talked up the OpenStreetMap project. Mike has also been kind enough to help out with the Natural Earth Data site which will go live in another couple weeks once Tom and I have polished the data. Without further ado, the keynote...]

Republished from tecznotes.

[clip] I used the opportunity to talk about the fascinating OpenStreetMap project, specifically the ways in which it’s useful to a cartography audience and how that audience could benefit the project. This last thing in particular is what I closed with: I think the online face of OSM’s rendered tiles could use serious input from the NACIS community, particularly at the kinds of medium scales where the highly-detailed data blurs into “features”. Much of this happens by-hand in tools like Adobe Illustrator from what I can tell, a very different workflow from the industrial automation offered by my favorite stand-by, Mapnik.

This is a talk about a new awareness of maps and geography, and a change in attitudes toward maps.

I’m going start with a small detour here to tell you about an online phenomenon that’s going on four or so years now, called Unboxing. Unboxing is a kind of geek striptease, described in one site’s tagline as a “vicarious thrill from opening new gear”.

Unboxing is a response to the meticulous packaging of modern electronics gear, most notably Apple’s range of iPods, iPhones, and Mac computers – careful design is invested in the packaging, and careful appreciation is invested in its removal.

Why unboxing? Two aspects of the trend seem relevant here.

First, it’s a new kind of visibility into the fan club culture around popular electronics, allowing users to elevate their own appreciation of a mass-market good into a social experience. I remember bicycling past the Apple Store and the Cingular store on San Francisco’s Market St. on the day the iPhone was released. There were enormous lines in front of each, and as customers picked up their new iPhones they’d walk out the door, break into a jog, and high-five the remainder of the line. The division between fan and star here evaporates.

Second, the delivery mechanism for this fan-produced culture tends to be online sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube. Both are examples of the phenomenon of the “Read Write Web”, the now-familiar pattern of web-based communities formed around the creation and sharing of social objects like photos and videos.

One effect of these online communities is a new and durable awareness of the process behind creative production. Pages on Flickr or YouTube follow a pattern you’re probably familiar with: title in the upper-left, main “thing” just below that, and to the right at the same level of importance, the person who made it for you. Responsibility and provenance along with all the messiness and point-of-view are built-in assumptions.

In the world of text, we see this same pattern on Wikipedia.

This is the History Flow project from Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Viegas at IBM, which shows edits to a single Wikipedia article over time as threads and contributions from a group of editors.

Like this one, each article has been beaten into shape over time by a group of people following loose rules of cooperation, so each page has an associated “Talk” page where you can peek into the arguments and negotiations connected to the particular set of facts represented there. You can see the sausage being made. You can also cause the sausage to be made, as we saw with Stephen Colbert’s parody of consensual reality he called “wikiality” and used to make occasional, abusive, hilarious forays into Wikipedia.

This is where we segue into geography.

Around 2004 or so, UK developer Steve Coast started a project called OpenStreetMap, the Wiki world map. Steve was connecting a few emerging threads: the falling cost of GPS hardware since it was made available for civilian use in 1996, the dismal copyright layer wrapped around Ordnance Survey maps, and the lack of a viable crappy-but-free alternative in the UK. It’s hard to overstate how crazy this idea was at the time; everyone knows that collecting worldwide geographic data at the street level is a massive undertaking, out of reach of an enthusiast community like the OSM of the time.

What was the state of online mapping at the time? Not terrible, but not great.

Continue reading at tecznotes  . . .

First Augmented Reality App Reaches App Store (MacNN)

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

[Editor's note: The future is here. Not quite immersive, but at least augmented by overlaying points-of-interest icons over a live video feed from your iPhone's camera (YouTube video above). Makes use of iPhone 3.0 OS features to push route disruption notices and in-app purchases of bus routes and additional points of interest.]

Republished from MacNN.
Wednesday, August 26th

Beating out acrossair’s Nearest Tube, French company Presselite has released the first augmented reality app for the iPhone, Metro Paris Subway 3.0. Previous versions have relied on 2D maps as users navigate the Paris subway system, identifying routes and points of interest. Version 3.0 allows users to find POIs using a live video mode, on top of which the app overlays icons and distance markers.

As a user walks through Paris, icons shift relative to a phone’s position, judged according to compass and GPS data. Because of the function’s dependence on compass headings, augmented reality can only be used with an iPhone 3GS. The app costs $1; other changes in v3.0 include Google Maps integration, push notifications for route disruptions, and in-app purchase options for bus routes and different POI categories.

Check it out on iTunes . . .