Cartographer's Toolkit

Map Making Tips, Tricks, and Inspiration

FOSS4GNA San Diego 2019 recap

April 19th, 2019

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With only a few minutes to write this post, I apologize from the outset that it won’t be lengthy or comprehensive. Just a few take aways from the conference before I’m on to my next meeting.

A few people have asked me, from a conference-goer point of view, what is helpful. Here’s some of the things that worked out great at FOSS4GNA San Diego:

  • A great mixture of healthy food/snacks and unhealthy. There was something for everyone: cookies, cupcakes, fruit, smoothies, popsicles, and plenty of coffee and water that was left out even after 3pm. (Went to a conference once where they rolled out the coffee stuff after about 2pm and I got a little sad.)
  • Local fare: because it was at a non all-in-one venue they were able to get a lot of local stuff brought in, which I am sure is nice and helpful for the local community small businesses.
  • Signage: there was good signage all around
  • Map: there was a map of the venue on each name tag for easy reference
  • Gala dinner at the site made it easy for those who might have trouble getting to other places (sometimes people are wary of traveling deep into a new location in an unfamiliar city at night, especially if they haven’t yet met many people at the conference).
  • Great website, etc.

Lots of great talks: to the people who spent their free time creating and rehearsing these talks…thank you! We are grateful to hear about your experiences and learn some things too. All the talks I saw were good. There were absolutely no duds and I went to almost every single session this time (though couldn’t go to every talk due to multiple talks being at the same time and not, alas, having any clones of myself).

There were ample opportunities to reach out and get to know people, before sessions, during breaks, and on the boardwalk. :) It’s always easiest to go with a pal or a group to these things, I feel, but I hope that all those who are new to geo or this community found at least one or two new acquaintances.

There wasn’t as much talk about vector tiles this year, but that’s probably because those are now as much a part of geo as anything else. This year we had lots of examples of maps using huge datasets like building footprints and how to optimize those. Applications of geo, new geo tech, and so on were all much talked about.

I was really disappointed that there was next to nothing on cartography. Not even a lot of maps in presentations. This is a geo conference…without many maps? What is the deal? We have brilliant minds working on all this back end data and processing procedures and technology but not nearly as many working on visualization of it all. There’s at least a little blame for me here as I didn’t give a talk at this one. With time being at a minimum these days, I’ll have to think about doing more carto talks in the future, maybe a few years out from now.

Overall: fantastic conference. Can’t wait for the next one. Big HUGE kuddos go to Jeff Johnson of Terranodo for organizing a lot of this and to everyone else who helped out. For specific details, see my twitter stream @PetersonGIS with the hashtag #foss4gna.

IMG_i830dd

 

Happy New Year!

January 1st, 2019
Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

Psst: Want to know how the above map was made? It’s done in QGIS with Natural Earth land data styled with a seamless raster fill of balloons from an istockphoto jpeg added to a Natural Earth ocean raster (OB_50M to be specific) that is colorized with a blue hue. All in the Robinson projection.

 

 

2018 was the craziest, busiest year around here! PetersonGIS did a lot over the course of 2018 including publishing the updated version of QGIS Map Design, creating lots of vector tile map designs, writing a few blog posts, working with salmon field databases, creating map designs that are almost identical in both QGIS and ArcMap, creating ever-dreaded GeoServer SLDs, and from time to time tweeting some very inspired map puns.

 

To wrap up the year, I decided to create a twitter recap with some of my favorite and most favorited tweets from 2018 plus a sprinkling of bad puns and song mangling.

 

PetersonGIS 2018 Twitter Recap!

 

Announcing the Preview Version of QGIS Map Design Second Edition

September 10th, 2018

QGIS Map Design Second Edition

Graser and I are pouring our hearts and souls into the newest edition of QGIS Map Design to make sure it is ready for the upcoming release of QGIS 3.4. You can already buy it in preview form (ack!) for a discounted price as long as you realize that some things may change as we go into feature-freeze for the release and get feedback on the book’s “recipes.”

In case you aren’t familiar with the format of this book, we feature real-world map designs with the latest styling advances along with how-to instructionals for each. We call these recipes.

This edition features a lot of new maps. I tried to count them but the question became “what constitutes a map”? Before y’all get existential on me, what I mean is, we have three recipes that build on one another to make a parks map, for example, so is that one new map or 3 new maps? In the interest of marketing I added those up as 3 new maps. :) So with that explanation in mind, we have approximately 14 updated designs and 23 completely new maps in this book. Obviously all the text and screenshots have been updated to the the 3.4 release.

I’m biased but at $22 this thing really is a bargain. The first edition of this book was LocatePress’s best seller, so there are obviously plenty of people using QGIS and probably a lot more now that release 3.4 is about to come out. But even if you don’t use QGIS this book showcases some great map design techniques that you can implement in other software.

You get the digital copy now and all edits as they come (sometimes daily) if you want them. And of course the finished digital copy. The hard-copy will be available through the usual online outlets in early November 2018.

The preview is only available at LocatePress. Click Here.

A few of the maps from the book:

bookpages

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In case you missed it

August 25th, 2017
  • FOSS4G was last week, had the biggest turnout yet, and included some guy on stage rubbing his feat with lotion (or so the story goes, I wasn’t there to witness that historic event.) Some recaps of the week: Carto’s take, the GeoSolutions presentations, DirectionsMagazine. If you have one to add let me know.
    Added 8/29/17: geoMusings FOSS4G Recap
  • There were a lot of eclipse maps. A LOT. All non-eclipse maps seemed to be eclipsed by the eclipse maps.
  • Brian Timoney, of MapBrief fame, said something about Excel on twitter, AGAIN. I was using Google Sheets last week and I swear it read my thoughts and did my calculations for me. I think you should switch to Google Sheets.
  • I mentioned the Einstellung effect, which according to wikipedia is, “a person’s predisposition to solve a given problem in a specific manner even though better or more appropriate methods of solving the problem exist.” As a professional cartographer, this should not dissuade you from keeping a mental catalog of map types and techniques (e.g., hex maps, dynamic clustering, cartograms, etc.). It should also not dissuade you from keeping an eye on all the new map types and techniques that are currently being developed and floated on social media. In most cases one of those is going to be the best idea for your map viz too. But it may not be. So to combat this psychological wall, you need to do some things when you are planning a new map. First, try framing your task as a question like, “is there a completely different approach I could take?” Second, if you are drawing out your ideas, switch to writing them out with words or vice versa. This helps you switch from right-brain to left-brain thinking (or vice versa), which gets you out of your usual thinking processes and may enable new insights to occur. Third, and this is always my own biggest issue, take the time to really think through the problem. To get myself to stop hurrying into solution-mode I’ll run the problem by colleagues to get their thoughts, take a walk to think more, or draw it out.
  • City Maps was cited in an academic paper. So was one of Anita Graser’s papers. Double fantastic. The World’s User-Generated Basemap is More than 80% Complete.

 

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British Library Maps, After-hour Tour

November 1st, 2016

The British Library in London is holding a contest to win an after-hours Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line exhibition tour. The competition is free to enter and open until the 11th of November 2016 (midnight).

Competition Entry Form

The library sent me some additional information:

Five lucky winners and their guests will enjoy a tour with the exhibition curator and a special show and tell of rare maps from our collection, including cartographic gems like the personal maps of the kings and queens of England, the earliest maps of London and New York, and secret spy maps from the 17th century. Winners can quiz our curator on the stories behind our maps and hear how different items are selected for our exhibitions.

If I were anywhere close to this exhibit I would definitely want to enter this. Good luck to those who do!

Cartographer's Toolkit

Map Making Tips, Tricks, and Inspiration