Thursday, February 16, 2012

Basemaps and Learning Curves

I'm up against the wall in terms of time still so short blog post today on a couple of topics both via James Fee.

Subtle Basemaps:  one of the basic problems with mashups has been putting data over a map designed for route planning.  Recently with Google maps API v3 and tools like tile mill people have started de-emphacizing background maps so that the data stands out better against the background map.  I agree with James that the OSM bright minimal style is a interesting development in this line of work.

I'd love to see some user test results to see how people fared working with a mashup based on this base map.

Learning Curves:  Also via James I read a great quote about teaching OS mapping software to students.
"One of the trepidations I have with teaching mapping courses using open source is that it usually requires some modicum of programming which is always way beyond the scope of any beginner class about making maps.  In addition, open source tends to favor linux or unix based tool chains that require config/make/make install tap dance before starting anything. This is akin to telling folks that they will need to forge their tools before they can start building a dog house."
Amen to that (emphasis mine).  I'm teaching web cartography at the moment mostly using Google Earth because I want them to learn about color, symbology and chart junk, not some abstract javascript that they will forget a week after the course is over.

The rest of the post goes on to explain why Sophia thinks TileMill for windows is a game changer.

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