Posts Tagged ‘tom’

Natural Earth 1.1 update + 1.2 preview

Friday, March 26th, 2010

The 60+ individual themes that received edits in the 1.1 update of Natural Earth are now available for ala cart downloading on the NaturalEarthData.com site. The 110m country boundary lines theme is now available in 1.1 (somehow it was left out of the original release). The combo 110m-cultural download has been updated to include that missing file. In case you’re wondering, there is no 50m country boundary lines update, even though the 50m admin-0 polygons were updated as their boundaries did not change, only the attribute tables were updated to version 1.1.

Jill finished editing ~1,900 or half of the 10m admin-1 polygon data attributes for name and thematic codes for the larger, more populous countries. We’ll start merging that with the new, topologically valid linework in April.

Tom got a cache of old hand drawn relief and is busy nudging it in Photoshop to align to Natural Earth drains.

Preston finished adding tapers to the North America drains. Those will go live on the site in early April and will quadruple (4x) the amount of hydrological data there. We’re about 50% done with Europe.

If you have a few hours to help out, please drop me a line at nathaniel@kelsocartography.com.

US National Parks added to Natural Earth, free GIS data shapefiles

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

[Editor’s note: Thanks to Tom’s efforts, we continue to expand Natural Earth coverage this week by adding U.S. National Parks to the 1:10,000,000 scale set. Do you have a few hours to spare? We’d like to add National Forests, large state parks, and wilderness areas to our Parks and Protected Areas theme.]

Republished from NaturalEarthData.com.

Includes the 392 authorized National Park Service units in the United States of America. The data does not include affiliated areas and unauthorized park units. Park units over 100,000 acres (~40,000 hectares) appear as areas, park units under 100,000 acres as points, and linear parks, including rivers, trails, and seashores, as lines. There are a few exceptions to this rule.

Many parks are comprised of scattered, non-contiguous land parcels. Not all of these are shown, especially in urban areas and the northeastern US. Dots generally indicate the center of the largest parcel or the parcel where the visitor center is located.

(above) Units in the southern United States include Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Stones River National Battlefield, Andrew Johnson National Historic Park, the Obed Wild and Scenic River, and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.

Ge the data at Natural Earth . . .

Natural Earth version 1.1 download + release notes. Free, great world GIS map data:

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

[Editor's note: I'm pleased to announce the immediate availability of version 1.1 of Natural Earth! Three months after our initial launch, the project reaches a major milestone. The download manager will be updated the next couple weeks. In the meantime, please check out the ZIP and release notes below.]

Continue reading and download the data at NaturalEarthData.com . . .

Cartography Design Annual #2 is Now Available

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

cartography_design_annual2_promo

[Editor’s note: Looking for map design inspiration? This second volume, now available from Lulu for $39.95 is brought to us by Nick Springer and a forward by Tom Patterson. Look for two Washington Post maps, one by yours truly.]

Republished from CartographyDesignAnnual.com.
By Nick Springer on December 11th, 2009

Showcasing the Art of Map Making

The Cartography Design Annual is a collection of maps from some of the top cartographers in the world capturing the beauty of mapping. Compiled and edited by Nick Springer, the Cartography Design Annual collects a select group of maps published in the calendar year 2008. The maps cover a broad spectrum of cartographic styles: 3D birds-eye views, travel maps, historic-style maps, mountain maps, and many more. The Annual is published by Springer Cartographics LLC, with support from NACIS (the North American Cartographic Information Society). The book, in beautiful full-color with an overview and detail view of each map, is both a showcase for cartographers and a interesting collection for anyone who loves maps.

The first Cartography Design Annual was received with great praise and excitement from the cartographic community and so the series continues with this second edition. With a foreword by Tom Patterson of the U.S. National Park Service in the second edition, the release Cartography Design Annual series is becoming an anticipated event for cartographers.

The book contains 30 maps from cartographers in the United States, Canada, Sweden, Norway, and Poland. This is book #2 in what will be an annual series.

The editor, Nick Springer is also the founder of Cartotalk.com, the most popular online community for cartographers worldwide. “The first edition of the Cartography Design Annual was a bit of an experiment, but all of the great feedback I received form cartographers proved that there is a need for this kind of showcase.” said Mr. Springer. “I hope this year’s edition will gain even broader exposure outside the world of cartographers.”

Mr. Springer is the Founder and President of Springer Cartographics LLC in Crosswicks, NJ and has worked for Microsoft Corporation as a Product Designer creating mapping applications and also designs software for GPS navigation systems. He studied Geography and Cartography at Syracuse University.

Buy the book from Lulu . . .

Adding new rivers and lakes to 10m Natural Earth in North America

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Tom and I have been busy adding 4 times the rivers and 3 times the lakes we had for North America. This adds in many “missing” hydro features that one might normally find on a 1:10,000,000 hydrologic reference map.

Why were they missing from the first version of Natural Earth? It’s hard to wade thru 1:1,000,000 features to figure which to add and an even tougher job to attribute them with the correct name and scale ranks. There’s another factor: these extra features are great if you’re making a watershed map, but can be a little noisy when used as a background layer in say a political reference map.

Cody Rice, now of the EPA but formerly of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) send along an amazing link last week. The CEC is a joint agency between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Specifically: USGS, Natural Resources Canada, INEGI-Mexico. Each country contributed base data for a 1:10,000,000 digital atlas. The data is available in many popular formats and is in the public domain. Better yet, it includes GIS data attributes like river name!

We’ve compared with our existing Natural Earth linework and identified which features were missing. For those we’re adding, we’ve adjusted the new linework a nudge here and there so it lines up with SRTM relief and our existing linework. We’ve also gone thru and created lake centerlines and applied scale ranks to all in three new steps (10, 11, and 12). We have some final polishing but will be releasing, along with some slight adjustments to the original data, by the end of January.

Do you have time to donate? Unlike ranks 0 to 9 (the original data), this new data will NOT come tapered. We’d like it to be and can show you how.

Know of a similar, attributed with name, 1:10,000,000 regional dataset we could adapt into Natural Earth to build out our coverage? Please let me know at nathaniel@kelsocartography.com.

Preview images below:

Red = new at rank 10. Blue = new at rank 11. Black = new at rank 12. Grey = old at ranks 0 to 9.

Click images to view larger sizes.

hydro_west_coast

hydro_mid_west

hydro_east

hydro_mexico

hydro_alaska

hydro_yukon

hydro_quebec

Sometimes We Get A Little Frustrated With ArcGIS! (NWGeoSpatial)

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

[Editor’s note: I’m on xmas break so no posts this week but wanted to share this hilarious video on YouTube poking fun at ESRI and changing core technology snafus corrupting the core enterprise geodatabase. The video production is pretty slick, uploaded by lukewrogers. Thanks Tom!]

Adolf Hitler Furious at ESRI Software
The tide of the war hinges on getting ArcGIS to union a few datasets in the Geodatabase and things aren’t going well…

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

Gene Therapy for Color Blindness (Cal Academy of Sciences)

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

[Editor’s note: Color blindness affects a significant portion of the male population and impacts design decisions. Bernhard Jenny and I developed the Color Oracle software for Mac, Windows, and Linux to help designers muddle thru. Now gene therapy may offer a “cure” for the condition, as this video from the California Academy of Sciences explains. Thanks Tom!]

Republished from the Science in Action from the California Academy of Sciences.

Gene therapy has proven to cure color blindness in squirrel monkeys— can the same process work for humans?

We’ve been tracking a lot of vision stories lately… What have you found?

Continue reading text version at TG Daily . . .

Scree Painter (Bernhard Jenny, ETHZ)

Monday, July 20th, 2009

snapshot-2009-05-13-12-10-18

[Editor’s note: Bernhard Jenny, of the Swiss ETH in Zurich, has released a new software application for generating Swiss-style scree (rock) patterns for topographic maps. It fills user-specified polygons with scree stones. In years past, this technique was a very slow, time consuming manual process. Because of this, most modern maps have abandoned scree depiction or rely on out-of-date raster scans of old maps. This new stand-alone software for Mac, Windows, and Linux allows many GIS inputs like DEMs (DTMs) and settings customize the graphic treatment of dot size, density, and shape. Scree is useful for depicting mountainous areas, often rocky and devoid of vegetation. The rock pattern can indicate gullies and compliment relief shading for sunny and shadow areas by modulating the size and density of dots. Export is provided to PDF format. I hope we start seeing more scree on maps as a result of this software. Thanks Tom!]

Republished from ScreePainter.com.

Inputs and settings include:

Scree: the generated scree dots.
Scree Polygons: the polygons that are filled with scree dots.
Gully Lines: flow lines extracted from a digital elevation model.
Obstacles Mask: No scree dots are placed where this mask is black.
Shaded Relief: Modulates the size and density of dots.
Gradation Mask: Where this mask is dark, the contrast between bright and dark slopes is enhanced.
Large Stones Maks: Dots are enlarged where this maks is dark.
Reference Image: An image that is not used for generating scree dots. The reference image included in the sample data sets shows a map section with manually produced scree dots for comparison.

Read more and download application at ScreePainter . . .

PREVIEW Natural Earth Vector: First Order Admin Units

Monday, July 13th, 2009

We shipped off the 1:15,000,000 scale first-order administrative units for Natural Earth Vector to University of Wisconsin @ Madison to be attributed with country and province names and alpha-numeric codes last week. There are only 3,000+ of these around the world so this is no small task! Kudos go to Tom for doing the heavy lifting on this data theme. Props to Kevin and Ben @ UW-Madison for undertaking the attributing.

Some units are super tiny (see Slovenia in the Europe detail at bottom, almost equivalent in scale to municipalities in the USA). We ignore some small, mostly island nations (see the Caribbean image below) but will include a general admin_0 polygon for the entire country instead. First order administrative units are composed what most people call “provinces” and “states” (not to be confused with countries aka “states”). For some countries, we will also include 1st order admin “regions” that group smaller 1st order units into larger statistical areas (eg: the United Kingdom’s England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland).

If you have 10 to 20 hours to spare, we need your help to complete Natural Earth Vector. Please email me at nathaniel@kelsocartography.com to find out more.

admin_1_world

admin_1_africa

admin_1_asia_se1

admin_1_australasia1admin_1_central_america_caribbean1

admin_1_south_america1

admin_1_europe1

admin_1_europe_detail1