Advanced Cartography for the Web

Session Type: 
Tech Session
AJ Ashton, Development Seed

Putting information on a map - whether that's seismic activity in Japan or election results in Afghanistan - immediately adds more context to your data. Maps quickly become move powerful with more data overlays, like the magnitude and timing of aftershocks or incidents of corruption and security threats. The story you can tell with your information changes with this additional data, but largely due to how you tell that story with your map with its design.

This session will introduce strategies to design beautiful, effective, and interactive maps with emerging open source mapping tools that are accessible for designers - and not just developers with a GIS background. Open source tools and free and open data now power some of the most stunning maps in the world, and consistent advances in these tools are decreasing the barrier to entry for designers with a web background who want to start designing maps. Participants will leave this session armed with strategies behind designing effective maps, and with a knowledge of the open source tools available to help them easily design them.

Taking a case-study approach, participants will see real-world examples of challenges encountered when designing maps for the web. Topics covered will include interactive design, techniques for tight integration of your maps with your web application, methods for increasing the signal-to-noise ratio in your designs, and map design best practices - plus some fun features like making 3D maps. Possible example maps will include:

The tools and data discussion will center around the Mapnik renderer, the CSS-like Carto styling language, the open source map design studio TileMill, and the OpenStreetMap database.

Speaker Bio: 

AJ is a cartographer and a developer at Development Seed, an R&D shop that specializes in building maps, data visualizations, and open source tools. AJ spends much of his time designing beautiful maps like the ones available from and creating tools like the open source map design studio TileMill.

Schedule info