Learning Digital Cartography

A reader recently asked what he needs to know to be a digital cartographer. It’s a potentially complicated answer because there are a lot of emerging technologies in this space. What I might recommend now could be superseded by something else as soon as 6 months from now. Given that, I wouldn’t hard-code (so to speak) the advice that follows. Instead, keep your learning flexible and explore all paths that it leads you down. For now, here are some tools/technologies you can familiarize yourself with as you seek to become a digital cartographer extraordinaire.

Note that I’m not getting into a myriad of datasources and haven’t even touched on the design portion of cartography, which in no way diminishes the importance of those. Also note this is just one pathway of many possibilities.

The list is particularly heavy on OpenSreetMap but the associated tools are good to know regardless. A combination of these tools could be used in a classroom exercise. In no particular order:

*There is some controversy surrounding these tutorials. However, I’ve still found them to be useful. If you have alternative tutorial suggestions please post them in the comments.

  1. #1 by Patrick on May 16, 2013 - 5:17 am

    I’ve found the W3Schools tutorials to be good at providing content, but not as helpful with learning to code.

    A more interactive tutorial is http://www.codecademy.com/.

    Of particular interest are the tutorials for CSS, JavaScript, and Python.

  2. #2 by Gretchen on May 17, 2013 - 5:32 am

    @Patrick Thanks for the tip!

  3. #3 by JRigs on May 17, 2013 - 2:02 pm

    It looks like you’ve focused exclusively on web mapping?

  4. #4 by Gretchen on May 17, 2013 - 8:16 pm

    @JRigs The post is definitely heavy on web mapping, which is a lot of what digital cartography is these days. Though technically, static images can be created with OpenStreetMap data and TileMill too (PNG, PDF, SVG).

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