Online Mapping:

Recently, I’ve been improving my skills in both GIS, web development, and programming. As such, exploring online mapping services and methods, like leaflet, Mapbox and CartoDB, was on the “to do” list. Both CartoDB and Mapbox are sites that allow you to build maps on their webpage and then embed the maps in your webpage. Leaflet is a javascript library for interactive maps.

Pro & Con

The main advantages of these services are; you don’t need to purchase a desktop GIS software, you don’t need to know how to use ArcGIS or QGIS, and they provide a variety of polished base maps. The main drawback is the functionality is more limited than a full desktop GIS software package. For some maps, this lack of functionality will be a deal breaker. For the map below, however, it wasn’t an issue. Not only that, but CartoDB allowed me to make the map faster than I would have been able to with ArcGIS. That being said, CartoDB could use better instructions. Their writing was a bit too sparse in places.

Conclusion from my first map in CartoDB

I think for quick maps, especially for maps that are largely points, a single path, or already created more complex layers overlaid on a base map, CartoDB is something I’ll continue to use. In a future post, I’ll try out MapBox and then Leaflet.

“A Map of My Geology Experience” – built with CartDB


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