Turning Data into Beautiful Maps

Session Type: 
Tech Session
Tom MacWright, Development Seed

Data experts can now become mapmakers without picking up GIS expertise first. This session will walk through how to leverage emerging open source tools to design highly custom maps for use online and on mobile devices - without GIS experience.

This session will start by looking at the current ecosystem of open source mapping technologies and the possibilities with the growing open data movement and market demand for location awareness. Then it will look at one tool specifically - TileMill, an open source map editor that makes it easy to design and generate beautiful custom map tiles for users with basic web HTML/CSS fluency.

This session will walk through how to use TileMill to create custom maps, starting from combining spreadsheet data with open data shapefiles to editing the map design using Carto, a CSS like language to adding new data overlay using your own or open data sets. It will then show how to take a custom interactive map, host it, and use it either on a website or on a mobile device. By the end of the session, participants will have seen at least one map created from scratch using TileMill in use on a website and ipad.

This session will also discuss the open source technologies at TileMill's core - Mapnik, which renders the map, and Carto, the map styling language. These projects and others are the basis of TileMill, so the presentation will also focus on their individual characteristics as well as how they fit into a user friendly package. The centerpiece, however, will be teaching participants how to use the tools to create and use their own custom maps.

Speaker Bio: 

Tom is a GIS developer at Development Seed, an R&D shop that specializes in building maps, data visualizations, and open source tools. He is a lead architect of Development Seed’s open source mapping stack, including the TileMill project that combines Mapnik, Carto, nodejs, and other open source tools for use designing custom maps online.

Schedule info