Posts Tagged ‘maker’

Services, Resources and Tools for Mapping Data (Sunlight Foundation)

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

[Editor's note: Listing of several dozen free web apps and tutorials, including GeoCommons Maker!, Modest Maps, Color Brewer, Open Layers, and Batch GeoCoder.]

Republished from the Sunlight Foundation.
By Kerry Mitchell on 02/19/10

Services, Resources and Tools for Mapping DataLong ago, putting together a map of data points would be the sole domain of a skilled GIS practitioner employing an application like ArcView. These days, particularly with the advent of Google Maps, Yahoo Maps and OpenStreetMap, et al., there are a multitude of options for an individual to employ in displaying data geographically. Of course, there are, and will always be, technical options that require some level of programming chops. Fortunately, the pool of drop dead easy implementations that anyone can throw together with ease has grown a lot over the last few years. Then, there is the growing middle ground, lying somewhere between easy but rigid and difficult but flexible. Personally, I tend to hover in this netherworld, leveraging existing code, services or tutorials when possible but occasionally finding myself diving into the more technical areas when necessary and learning a lot in the process.

For those of you out there who might be interested in mapping data, I’ve put together a collection of links to a variety of services, code samples, resources and tutorials I’ve found useful in the past. These links range from new services that barely require anything more than a spreadsheet to complicated frameworks that require a great deal of technical knowledge. This is by no means all encompassing and if you happen to have additional links you’d like to share, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Continue reading at the Sunlight Foundation . . .

Better Know a GeoCommons Feature – GeoJoin (Fortius One)

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

[Editor's note: Easy technique for joining a table of thematic data to geographic shapes in GeoCommons Maker! web app.]

Republished from Fortius One.
February 9th, 2010 by Kevin Burke

Often I have had various GeoCommons users ask me, “How do I turn my excel spreadsheet data into proportional shapes like the map below?”

proport map

Before now I would have told these users that they would have to use complicated and expensive mapping software. This would allow users to combine spreadsheet data with the desired shapes that they want to view on their map.

I am now happy to announce that with GeoCommons you no longer have to rely on the ways of the past. Now FortiusOne has created the new feature of GeoJoin which allows you to move beyond points and easily visualize regions. Below is a walk-through of the process or click this link to view a video that will visually assist you.

Continue reading at Fortius One . . .

Do you prefer KML or Shapefile format? Introducing Finder! and Maker! from

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Please note that I have updated Fortius One’s Off the Map blog to my blogroll at right. They have an interesting post that highlights the trends for their first month of operating Finder! and Maker! two exciting new tools for the (budding) cartographers for finding spatial datasets and making maps via their Flash based interface, devoped by Andy, Mark, Ben, and David at Axis Maps and shown off at last week’s NACIS mapping conference.

It turns out that most data uploads to their site are in shapefile (which makes sense since that’s the defacto standard for GIS data these days) but the vast majority of downloads are in KML format for people wishing to see the data in Google Earth and other more general audience mapping tools. See this post for more information.

Use Maker! to shorten your map creation process from hours to minutes. Maker! gives you the power to make stunning interactive maps with your own data, GeoCommons public data or both.

Here’s a demo for Finder a browser-based application for finding, organizing, and sharing GeoData in common formats. Search the world’s GeoData or upload your own.

GeoCommons Maker! Awesome or super awesome? (Cartogrammar)

Monday, October 20th, 2008

[Editor's note: Republished from Andy Woodward's Cartogrammer blog from Oct. 1st, 2008. See my related post here.]

Maker logo

After a summer of long hours and occasional vagarancy, [Andy is] happy to report that GeoCommons Maker! has launched today.  FortiusOne’s CEO Sean Gorman nicely sums up what Maker (I’m going to go ahead and drop the exclamation point henceforth) is all about:

Data that was once the sole providence of GIS professionals can now be mapped by anyone. Not only can they access the data but be guided through a process of creating a cartographically and statistically accurate map.

[Andy's] esteemed colleagues and I at Axis Maps teamed up with FortiusOne to build Maker, sharing the goal of bringing good cartography to a vast collection of geographic data.

Maker is integrated with the existing GeoCommons service Finder, where users can access thousands of geographic data sets in different formats and contribute their own data. Now with Maker, users can create and share some of the slightly sophisticated cartographic visualizations that were once reserved for expensive desktop GIS applications. We hope that this will encourage appreciation of cartographic design in web maps, or, to quote the FortiusOne blog’s former name, to “move past push pins.” For a good summary of the highlights and goals of Maker, check out Andrew Turner’s announcement.

[Andy's team's] role at Axis Maps was essentially to build the Flash front end for Maker, bringing our collected expertise in cartography to the discussions with the GeoCommons team. A good map in 5 minutes was the goal, so we tried to reduce the map-making process to a short series of decisions that produce a well-designed map allowing basic analysis that is insightful and appropriate to the data. To that end we have the “Map Brewer” that greets you in Maker when you load a data layer.

Map Brewer steps

A map in four clicks if you like. This is a slight variation on the concept of a tool put forth by Professor Cindy Brewer with our own Professor Mark Harrower in ColorBrewer. Professor Brewer has described what she sees as the “brewer” concept (see #8 here). In short, a brewer is a tool that guides a mapmaker through particular cartographic design decisions, presenting reasonable options and the information necessary to critically evaluate those options. It does not make the decisions for you; it helps you make decisions. We could have tried to have the system determine the best cartographic design for the data it’s given, but we think that guiding the user through a few decisions will lead to far better maps. The Map Brewer is the salient example of the principles we’ve tried to uphold throughout the interface and workflow: allowing decent design flexibility while keeping decisions simple and encouraging effective design.

Meanwhile, something I worked with a lot was actually rendering the data on the map. The Flash application builds on Modest Maps to display geometry (retrieved from the extensive back end), making map navigation easy and providing a variety of base map choices. There is continuing work to make the rendering methods more extensible by streamlining the integration with Modest Maps and allowing more flexibility of data formats. I must stress that the powerful back end to all this reflects a lot of hard work and ingenuity at FortiusOne, and they continue to work to make these data and maps as fast and easy to access and share as possible. It’s been a valuable experience to work with them and see everything they’ve put into GeoCommons.

It’ll be exciting to see how Maker evolves and expands. For some time now I’ve perceived a geoweb community emphasis on data, data, data, and I hope that Maker can cater to that while also introducing a stronger focus on presentation.

So please pardon the kinks that are still being worked out, and enjoy making some cool maps! Here’s my fist publicly shared map, a frivolous one of course: “Freshmen are Criminals”

Freshmen are Criminals