I’ve been up to my eyeballs in map styling lately. There’s the project for GeoServer that is currently at 18 SLD styles and then there’s the project involving 50+ layers in a mapbox gl js style. Stuff I’m dealing with on a daily basis:
- Knowing the data inside-and-out. For the two styles mentioned above, there’s a, shall we say, intimacy one must have with the data in order to get anywhere fast. For example, how are the roads broken down by type? Depending on the dataset it will be different. OpenStreetMap data can vary depending on how you’ve downloaded it but in most cases you’ll have motorways, trunks, primaries, secondaries, tertiaries, tracks, cycleways, links and tunnels and bridges. Do not forget to use the tunnel and bridge codes! If you’re styling in a rural area and get those roads looking just fine you may not have even thought that as soon as you zoom over to a place with tunnels and bridges–Manhattan is a great test-place for this–that it doesn’t look the way you want it too. There are differing strategies for those tunnels and bridges. You might use a bolder casing for the bridges and a dotted casing for the tunnels. This is just one example and you should know that I just deleted another couple of paragraphs that went on and on about road tunnels and bridges so you can only imagine all the things one might need to know for all the other data out there. Give yourself a break, it takes back-and-forth exploration to discover all the nuances. Be someone who enjoys delving into things. Also, the term “test-place” is something I would like to propose a clever phrase akin to test-case but specifically used by cartographers. A list of classic test-places and what to look for when you are styling them would be very nice indeed.
- Knowing the software inside-and-out. I have made many an SLD in GeoServer in my day. By the way, do you know if nausea induced by continous xml scrolling is treatable? Anyway, it only just dawned on me recently that you can combine filters with “in” like this. Previously I would have split these into separate functions with OR between them. Basically the point here is that there always seems to be something to learn that can make code more readable or a style looking better.
- You can go in and change the json code for an AGOL database by adding “admin” between the rest and services part of the url.
There was zero rhyme or reason for this post really, except to keep in touch. And know that whatever you’re struggling with, you probably aren’t alone. And that there are zillions of ways to make maps these days and as a cartographer, the more of them you know, and the more data you know, the better your ability to find the right tool for the right map. And that it is worth it in any case. I see the making of a map as putting together a puzzle. It is difficult, time consuming and at times tedious, but you can’t stop and each time a new piece is found and fit you feel a little bit more whole.