Archive for the ‘Self promo’ Category

Love #maps and #datavisualization? Please join me at NACIS this year in Greenville!

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

[Editor’s note: The call for proposals is now open! As NACIS vice president and program chair for this year’s conference, I cordially invite you to attend and please present.]


NACIS 2013

Greenville, SC
October 9-11, 2013
Hyatt Regency Greenville


Talks, Posters, Demonstrations, Round Tables, Panels, and Workshops

There are many ways you may participate! You are invited to submit proposals to organize custom sessions, panels, discussions, and workshops. Talks, papers, posters, and demonstration proposals are welcome until June 15th. We will entertain all creative ideas!


Our enduring passion is to render our social, economic, political and natural world intelligible and actionable through visual story and cartographic design.

We are a creative design-oriented group that for over thirty years has provided a forum spanning the diversity of the mapmaking, geospatial & data visualization communities. We are specialists from government, commercial, and not-for-profit fronts along with academics, scholars, map/GIS librarians, artists, and students. Be there for the dynamic discussions rich in techniques, theory, history, and the state of our art. Please join us!


This year’s theme is data and data-driven map stories. Cartographers rely more than ever on technology and data science to craft engaging and informative narratives. As geographic data gets bigger, how can we find and follow the story arc? How can we use technology to make the humble spreadsheet or personal narrative interactive and read just as well online as in print?


In addition to the main Thursday and Friday conference, we offer several special programs.

  • Practical Cartography Day  Join professional cartographers and scholars for this popular all-day session. Come prepared to share in their insightful solutions to everyday cartographic conundrums.Mamata Akella and Andy Woodruff
  • Cartographic and Geographic Data Collections  This all-day session will focus on innovative ways cartographic and geographic data collections are being managed and disseminated. Abraham Kaleo Parrish and Tsering Wangyal Shawa
  • Exhibits Gallery - Display your latest creation for all to ponder throughout the events. Daniel Huffman

Read more at NACIS »

Natural Earth v2.0.0 is live

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

I am proud to announce the immediate availability of Natural Earth 2.0.0!

The 2.0.0 release focuses on 7 major areas and is available to download today à la carte at NaturalEarthData.
ZIP combo downloads of all vectors: SHP (279 mb) or SQLite (222 mb) or QuickStart kit for ArcMap and QGIS (165 mb).
  1. Economic geography: adds global roads, railroads, ports, airports, and time zones to show how people are interconnected and goods route (read Richard Florida on airports, full legal document about time zones and international date line shifts, and background on the E-Road network).
  2. Remastered geometries: fixes topological errors at 1:10 to 1:1,000 scales in the basic coastline, ocean, land, admin-0, and admin-1 related themes for files in the the 1:10m scaleset. By removing self-intersections, sliver polygons, and adjusting offset polygons, Natural Earth imports into more GIS software (like PostGIS) and will be easier to maintain. The coastline is adjusted to better conform to ~1:3,000,000 satellite imagery. Because of all these changes, some raster themes are also updated. Land, ocean, and minor islands all build topologically by scripting ingredients, as do the admin-0 and admin-1 cultural themes.
  3. Introduce Gray Earth rasters. Worldwide terrain depicted monochromatically in shades of gray. It combines shaded relief and regionally adjusted hypsography that emphasizes both high mountains and the micro terrain found in lowlands. View new raster »
  4. 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).
  5. Address user submitted bug reports, ~25 since the 1.4 release, and earlier.
  6. Moved to Github for the backend versioned file management and coordination. Includes scripts to package updates and auto-create derived themes. View Natural Earth Vector on Github »
  7. Adopt semantic versioning. Know, by theme, the level of effort needed to update your maps when Natural Earth data updates are released. Read more about Natural Earth versioning »

Other notable changes:

All themes now include README and VERSION files. The admin-0 attributes have more veracity and now includes nested disputed areas (was a sidecar). Adds continent, region, subregion codes. Adds versions of country and admin-1 without boundary lakes.  All places and parts of places have population and GDP estimates. The populated places pop_max and pop_min attributes are now fully built out for all records (pop max is for the metropolitan area, pop_min is for the incorporated city of the same name). populated places now include rank_max and rank_min for simple town size grading. All instances of name1 have been changed to name, name to name, name2 to name_alt. Vertexes were added to many themes to allow them to project into conics smoothly (they’re back!). All field (column) names are now generally in the order of: scalerank, featurecla, name, name_alt, natscale, labelrank, *.


Many thanks to the individuals who contributed over the last year of development: Tom, Nathaniel, Alex Tait, Hans van der Maarel, Scott Zillmer, Mike Migurski, Daniel Huffman, Xan Gregg, Peter Bispham, Drew Noakes, Miguel Angel Vilela, Matthew Toro, Kevin Pickell, Shawn Allen, Robert Coup, Iain, Leo, and more! Thanks also to Stamen thru the Knight Foundation Citytracking grant for sponsoring a portion of this work including remastering geometries for better PostGIS import, the move to Github, and adopting semantic versioning.


Over 225 files have been updated in Natural Earth 2.0.0. Abbreviated listing below.
  • UPDATED: NE_ADMIN_0 - Updated for South Sudan, map colors (now with 7, 8, 9 and 13 options), population figures, removed () from notes, and more. note: diffs between sov, adm0, map units, map subunits, and new breakaways are all calculated on the a3 codes now, no longer mix of names and a3 codes. Added and split note_adm0 and note_brk to note which countries are parts of which sovereignties and who’s breaking away or disputing. One spurious “county” feature code fixed to “country” (finland). Added labelrank on all. Added new mapcolors (7, 8, 9 and old 13). Includes new detail on Caribbean Netherlands map unit. Adds more detail to Bhutan disputed areas. Now includes continent codes, and future region code placeholder columns. Added name_len to know when to abbreviate labels. Added label ranks.
  • UPDATED: NE_10M_ADMIN_0_BOUNDARY_LINES_LAND - Minor updates to alignment of boundary lines (and topology fixes), additional coding to allow official US gov’t view of same. better disputed coding, including Kosovo. Densified vertex along lines to allow smooth projection into conics. Moved Omani exclave Madha to correct location. Adds left and right labels and codes. Fixes: N96NSYPAPV, ZQNTN5VGDD, Z8ZYYUQZVS.
  • UPDATED: NE_50M_ADMIN_1_STATES_PROVINCES_SHP – Added some new ISO coding, other minor changes. Fixes topology errors. Adds admin-1 for brazil and australia. Uses same coding as 10m files. Derived from new scale rank version.
  • **NEW**: NE_10M_ADMIN_0_ANTARCTICA_CLAIMS – Although countries have paused their claims to the southernmost continent, they haven’t suspended them. Thanks, Hans!
  • **NEW**: NE_10M_ADMIN_0_ANTARCTICA_CLAIM_LIMIT_LINES – Although countries have paused their claims to the southernmost continent, they haven’t suspended them. Thanks, Hans!
  • UPDATED: NE_10M_POPULATED_PLACES – A couple name corrections (Morelia, Mexico spelling fixed. Mazatlan, Mexico spelling fixed. Clarified confusion around Tabatinga / Leticia on the Colombian / Brazilian border. On the Brazil / Bolivia border, clarified Brasileia / Cobija. Fixed spelling of Shuozhou, China), many population max values, mostly in China, India, rift valley (Africa), Nigeria, and other countries in east Asia, but some elsewhere. Made sure cities in Switzerland are coded admin-0 of CH and China are CN. Moved Amundsen Base to 176° so it’s in the -12 timezone. Also moved Peter I Island. Vatican City is also moved to be contained by it’s admin-0 polygon. Same for San Marino. Added a poprank column with 0 to 14 numerical classes. Deleted spurious Extra Eureka town in Canada near Greenland. Delete duplicate town Urengoy in RUS, rename the real one Novy Urengoy. Fixes: 4SUAZ7BB49, D459XT1Z6Y.
  • UPDATED: NE_10M_COASTLINE – Better matches modern satellite imagery to zoom 8-ish. The earlier coastline could have been several kilometers off (like in Gibraltar). Several large new islands added. Includes densified vertex along lines to allow smooth projection into conics.
  • UPDATED: NE_10M_RIVERS_LAKE_CENTERLINES – See changelog for ne_10m_rivers_lake_centerlines_scale_ranks for details.
  • UPDATED: NE_10M_RIVERS_LAKE_CENTERLINES_SCALE_RANKS – Updated river names, few new rivers, splits. added river connector in Sweden between lake near Stockholm and Baltic Sea. Fixes in France and Netherlands. Fixes Mackenzie river at it’s confluence with Dawson river in Australia. Names the Mahakam in Borneo (Rivernum 544). Changes scalerank on Nelson river in Canada. Fixes: SHAWNZQJ3B, 5J47B13PJ7, W9X539LBUT, 35YLBL2W9Z.
  • UPDATED: NE_10M_RIVERS_LAKE_CENTERLINES_NORTH_AMERICA_SUPPLEMENT – Updated river names, few new rivers, splits. Fixes: SHAWNZQJ3B, 5J47B13PJ7.
  • UPDATED: NE_10M_RIVERS_LAKE_CENTERLINES_EUROPE_SUPPLEMENT – Updated river names, few new rivers, splits. fixed topology errors. Fixes: SHAWNZQJ3B.
  • UPDATED: NE_10M_LAKES – Removed major lake groupings (Great Lakes, Finger Lakes, etc) to geography label areas instead. Title cased the feature class values. Added Swedish lake near Stockholm (had been extension of Baltic Sea in ocean theme). Fixed topology errors. Fixed a few reservoir and salt lake codes (thanks Craig!).
  • UPDATED: NE_10M_LAKES_NORTH_AMERICA_SUPPLEMENT – Name1 have been changed to name, name to name, name2 to name_alt. Fixes 4VA9P9UGQE.
  • UPDATED: NE_10M_GEOGRAPHIC_LINES – New int’l date line, thanks Alex! Also densified linework for smoother projection into conics.
  • UPDATED: NE_10M_LAND – A dissolved version of the original 1.x file, now renamed “ne_10m_land_scale_rank”, see that changelog for full details. Fixes XAWXTN54GT.
  • **NEW**: NE_10M_LAND_SCALE_RANKS – Renamed our original land file to this. Incorporates new coastline. Includes densified vertex along lines to allow smooth projection into conics. Fixes XAWXTN54GT.
  • UPDATED: NE_10M_OCEAN – A dissolved version of the original 1.x file, now renamed “ne_10m_ocean_scale_rank”, see that changelog for full details. Fixes XAWXTN54GT.
  • **NEW**: NE_10M_OCEAN_SCALE_RANKS – Renamed our original ocean file to this. Incorporates new coastline. Removed Swedish lake near Stockholm (had been extension of Baltic Sea in ocean theme) to lakes layer. Incorporates new coastline. Includes densified vertex along lines to allow smooth projection into conics. Fixes XAWXTN54GT.

Announcing Natural Earth v2.0.0, release candidate 3

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Just in time for NACIS 2012 in Portland, Oregon!

This is a followup to the earlier version 2.0.0 release candidate 2. Read more about RC2 »


Please submit bugs or other oddness found release candidate 3 to myself ASAP. The plan is to cut a final 2.0.0 release by the end of October. View full combo change log for 2.0.0 »

What’s new in 2.0.0 release candidate 3:
  1. Added explicit labelrank in the admin-0 XLS doc. Also added homepart (map units, map subunits, brkaway) and tiny (country) to better deal with labeling awkwardness and adds consistency between themes and scalesets.
  2. Updated sr_label_i, sr_label_o  on tiny_countries for better labeling.
  3. Added 3 new “mapcolors” for 7-up, 8-up, and 9-up into details doc and onto the admin-0 and admin-1 themes. This adds to the 13-up original. The 9-up is optimal, the others are useful in their own ways. 
  4. Renamed the “note” in the admin-0 files to “note_adm0” and added details for Korea and Japan parts (just the exterior bits). Added AUZ note for CSI, Cayman Islands, Turks, etc.
  5. Added the disputed areas note directly to the admin-0 details, named “note_brk“.
  6. Fixed admin-0 coding with Georgia to fix map units bug. Added new Caribbean Netherlands and metropolitan Netherlands codes to reflect rejigger there.
  7. Added continent codes for admin-0 countries and their various parts. Stubbed out region and subregion fields, values to come later release. Thanks SmugMug!
  8. Removed “County” admin-0 feature class, remapping it to “Country” (Finland only).
  9. Removed parenthetical () from notes, see Faulkland Is. etc. Removed all claim notes except from the BRK bits in admin-0 details. Add that while labeling now (consistent with other app logic now).
  10. Add admin-0 diffs for sov, adm0, map units, map subunits, and disputed areas are now calculated on the a3 code, not the name. This can be used for progressive labeling, fixing problems in Tanzania and elsewhere. You still need logic in your app to determine if the labeling name is different, but now it’s consistent.
  11. Added Taiwan to disputed areas. Renamed Congos (eg Democratic Republic of Congo instead of Congo (Kinshasa)).
  12. Modified the scalerank of Venezuala claim into Guyana boundary line fix 10m theme. Similar for the Saichen Glacier.
  13. Changed the scaleranks on all 10m claim polys. Most now appear at scalerank 6 and in.
  14. For labeling, added name_len to the admin 1 and admin 0 details and themes.
  15. Changed several scaleranks of marine label areas in 10m and 50m themes.
  16. Added continent code for roads (partial) so North America and Europe can be separated out easier. Might build topology for roads in final release to make future cleanup easier.
  17. Updated, added new Airports by rerunning export from Mile High Club, with better field names.
  18. Updated, added new Ports by rerunning export from High Seas, with better field names. This added inland ports especially along the North American Great Lakes.
  19. Promoted a few populated places up to scalerank 1 and 2 to give better balance to compilation. Many cities have more accurate pop_max values (partial, more due in final release). Thanks for the nudge Craig!
  20. National park (protected areas) points were missing “name”. Some reranking for park points in urban centers (to scaleranks 7, 8, 9). A couple park areas reranked around scalerank 3. Added Cesar Chavez NM and added missing unit_codes for Clinton Birthplace NHS and River Raisin NBP. Thanks Tom!
  21. Add admin_0 alpha3 codes to boundary lines to allow better selection (grab the boundaries of USA only, for instance). Also added left and right names to allow better admin-0 line labeling on zoom in.
  22. Parts of Chile and Cyprus were missing in derived admin-0 themes (were present in scale rank masters) so modified some label points so their scalerank is now <= 6 for admin-0 selection. These had been 7 and 8.
  23. Removed old versions of admin-1 lines from the ZIPs.
  24. Added left and right names for admin_1 boundary lines for better labeling once zoomed in. Because native names are in UTF8 (from the polygons), also added a “master” lines version in GeoDB format along with the SHP version, sidestepping character encoding problems. Thanks Mamata and Mike!
  25. The admin-1 boundary between Tasmania and mainland Australia is now straight (thanks Craig!). Adjusted admin-1 boundaries in Bhutan to match new admin-0 disputed areas and boundaries.
  26. Added Australia and Brazil admin-1 lines and polys to 50m. Redid the 50m and 110m admin-1 attributes (lines, polys) to match the 10m. Added scale_rank version of the polys at 50m and 110m to allow for easier updates. Recut a lakes erase version of the 50m admin-1, but now using lakes with scalerank <= 0 instead of 1 (North America’s Great Lakes, but not Florida or Utah lakes) at Mike Bostock’s suggestion.
  27. Modified scaleranks on the 10m urban areas and copied those over to the 50m urban areas. Deleted a bit of 10m urban on Mt. Hood, Oregon snowfield.
  28. Redid marine label area scale ranks.
  29. Removed duplicate Laccadive Is. from 10m-geography-regions.
  30. Fixed river scalerank bug in 10m theme in Canada for the Nelson River leading out of Lake Winnipeg, thanks Gregor!

Still to do for final release:

  • Rebuild the 10m, 50m, and 110m admin 0 themes using the new details. Add area_sqkm to all themes after build.
  • Merge in modified 10m China, Taiwan admin-1 from a fork, thanks Chunshek!
  • Merge in modified cities in China, Taiwan from a fork, thanks Chunshek!
  • Merge in modified 10m lakes from a fork, thanks Craig!
  • Resolve ne_10m_railroads_beta1_north_america_original.shp
  • Finish adding continent codes on 10m roads, this might involve adding topology to crack geoms.
  • Include PRJ files with each GeoTIFF, for Jody and the uDig app on OSGeo disk.
  • Update quickstart MXD, QGIS docs with new file names, paths, field names / values.

Announcing Natural Earth v2.0.0, release candidate 2

Monday, August 20th, 2012

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.

Announcing Field Papers (Stamen)

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Republished from Stamen.

We’ve just rolled out a new way for you to make atlases of the world, called Field Papers. Field Papers allows you to print a multipage paper atlas of anywhere in the world and take it outside, offline, into the field. You can scribble on it, add features, or make notes about the area, all without a GPS or complicated GIS software.

Once you’ve annotated your atlas, you can upload photographs of each page back into the system to transcribe your notes into digital form. Each atlas gets its own page on Field Papers, and a simple history of edits and activity which you can share with friends or colleagues, and download for later analysis. Take a look at some of the atlases that have already been created on the Watch page, or browse by place, like France or Liberia.

The interface looks like this:

This project is a continuation of Walking Papers, which was built for the OpenStreetMap (OSM) editing community. Field Papers allows you to print multiple-page atlases using several map styles (including satellite imagery and black and white cartography to save ink) and has built in note annotation tools with GIS format downloads. You can also create a Field Papers account to collect any atlases you create or snapshots you upload, or you can stay anonymous. Maps from the two systems work together if you want OSM editing (see below).

Field Papers also offers several automation and map customization tools for more geo-inclined people, and the open source code is on Github.

Why not try making an atlas at Field Papers?

View Project »

Negative Equity Rates: How Does Your Neighborhood Fare? (Zillow)

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

[Editor’s note: Where are home loans underwater? A thing I made at Stamen with Zillow is live, view your zipcode’s status on our interactive map! We’re using a UTFGrid to power the interactivity with new backend technology via Mapnik 2 and TileStache and frontend Leaflet.js map library to tie it all together over a Bing basemap. The assets were all statically generated and cached on S3 with a content distribution network in front of it. The piece has received coverage in the Wall Street Journal and other publications.]

Republished from Zillow.

Today Zillow made waves by becoming the most broad and accurate public source of negative equity information. We’re now able to tell, down to the ZIP code level, what the rate of negative equity is, how far underwater homeowners are, and the delinquency rate of underwater homeowners.

To make this data available to each and every one of you, we’ve worked with Stamen Design to create an interactive tool to allow you to explore the rates of negative equity in your local area. Just enter in your county, city, or ZIP code to narrow into your area. Click on the image below to enter the interactive map.

Watercolor, Terrain, and Toner tiles from Stamen

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Reminiscent of hand drawn maps, Stamen’s new watercolor maps apply raster effect area washes and organic edges over a paper texture to add warm pop to any map.

We’ve launched to showcase these new maps as well as our Terrain and Toner map styles.

We’d love to see these maps used around the web, so we’ve included some brief instructions to help you use them in the mapping system of your choice. These maps are available free of charge but with attribution. Details at any of the links above.

VPRO: Custom Cartography and The Netherlands From Above (Stamen)

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

[Editor's note: My first big project at Stamen is live! Team includes: Geraldine, Eric, Mike, Shawn, Sean, and Zach with Jasper and Frederik at VPRO providing the data. Pretty labels powered by Dymo in zooms 7 to 10, open source auto label power!]

Republished from Stamen.

Working closely with Dutch broadcasting heavies VPRO, yesterday we launched Nederland van Boven (“Netherlands from Above”), an interactive map of the Netherlands to accompany the forthcoming broadcast of a series of shows about this fascinating tiny country. As my friend Ben Cerveny is known to say: “New York started gentrifying in the 1970s, but Amsterdam started gentrifying in the 1790s,” and the opportunity to design custom maps for a country that’s essentially all infrastructure was one that we leapt at gladly.

The show runs in a series of episodes starting later this month, each addressing a different aspect of life in Holland. It starts with mobility, answering questions like “where can I live, if I work in Amsterdam and want to be able to finish the newspaper by the time I get to work on the train?” or “How far can I travel in two hours by public transport from Vlissingen?”

Upcoming episodes will deal with other ways of looking at the environment around you: examining the natural environment by comparing distances from buildings, open space, and the density of wild animals, the landscape of danger by examining rates of lightning strikes, flammable locations and the arrival times of ambulances, and the contours of the air around the country, looking at the density of birds, flght paths of planes and the highest places in the Netherlands.

The cartography for the project is custom-made for VPRO, designed to complement the channel’s rich visual branding. Cities fill in based on a custom compilation we derived using a combination of NaturalEarthData and GeoNames sources, and and at lower zoom levels roads become visible and are drawn using data sourced from OpenStreetMap. On the most detailed zoom all roads are drawn and the arterial streets receive names. With roads come more place labels, now from OpenStreetMap and sized by population. Water bodies (black) are drawn using data from VPRO, as are park lands (black stipple pattern), airports, farm locations, pancake restaurants, neighborhood names, and zipcode shapes (the locations of pancake restaurants being as important to the Dutch as the locations of airports and farms, apparently).

The highlight layers are orange, because that’s the national color of the Netherlands. Also, did you know that carrots are orange because that’s the national color of the Netherlands; “in the 17th century, Dutch growers are thought to have cultivated orange carrots as a tribute to William of Orange – who led the the struggle for Dutch independence.” So: orange maps over custom OpenStreetMap cartography, a client who wanted to tell a story and was willing to stretch what it means to design a map, and a country made of canals and land claimed from the sea. Hoera!

Technical bits:

We used open source software, some authored by Stamen, to draw the reference cartography and cache the data files. Web maps are made of small, 256 px by 256 px images, stacked next to each other in a grid and displayed in the browser as a slippy map, allowing the user to pan and zoom. The application logic in Flash allows us to speedily update the map (using the GPU) when the data filters are adjusted. Software utilized includes TileStache, Cascadenik, Dymo, ModestMaps, Mapnik, QGIS, OGR, and GDAL. Much of the data provided by VPRO was generated in ArcGIS in-house and and partners. The place search is powered by the Yahoo! geocoder.

Interact with project »

Betashapes for San Francisco neighborhoods

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

[Editor’s note: A first for me, read this post in Romanian/Ukrainian cyrillic. Thanks Maria!]

First results in using the betashapes script from Schuyler Erle and Melissa Santos. Still some kinks for me to work out relating understanding how the script deals with donut holes and scrubbing the list of Yahoo GeoPlanet neighborhood names in the input. For the US, can just use Census block polygons and avoid OSM copyright funk. Use GeoPDFs on the iPhone and other iOS devices to see yourself in the map, get Avenza’s PDF More images after the jump. Click on an image to see it larger.

More background: Betashapes are based on how people tag (and only if they also geotag) their Flickr photos. The script queries Flickr for photos for specified neighborhood tags (up to 2,500 sample size each ‘hood, these SF neighborhoods calculated from ~250,000 photo locations) and counts up what neighborhood tag is dominant in any city block and then aggregates them into neighborhoods. The neighborhood names and ids are from the Yahoo! GeoPlanet database that has a mix of real and fanciful (minority report) places. If you remove the ones you don’t agree with from the input, they will be ignored on the output. Lots to refine here…

View GeoPDF »
Download betashapes shapefile for SF »
Download SF geodata ingredients »
Download Y! GeoPlanet SF files »

(below) Betashapes using Flickr images and city street grid turned into polygon blocks.


Natural Earth version 1.4 release notes

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Natural Earth has been downloaded more than 250,000 times and is closing in on 1 million page views since launching in the final month of 2009. Thanks!

Over 65 files have changed in version 1.4 of Natural Earth. The most significant edits reflect the July 2011 independence of South Sudan. That country’s administrative level-1 units have also been refreshed, and the disputed area of Abyei is retained.

Mea culpa: A major correction fixes a coding error introduced in version 1.3 that incorrectly merged Panama and Papua New Guinea into a super country in some admin-0 files. Version 1.4 reestablishes them as separate countries.

Because of South Sudan, the admin-0 (sovereign, country, map units, map subunits, scale ranks, scale ranks with minor islands), boundary lines land, disputed areas and boundaries, etc. have all been updated in the 10m, 50m, 110m scale sets.

50m admin-1 states and provinces now includes a version with the lakes punched out, like the 10m has enjoyed since version 1.3.

The 10m admin-1 file now includes a “scale rank” exploded version that will import into a wider range of GIS and CAD software packages that cannot import polygons over a certain vertex count.

Other changes and corrections are detailed below and credited to the correction request author.

Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso and Tom Patterson 19 August 2011
Read full release notes at »