An Open-source World

Over the last few years we have seen the release of numerous mapping platforms/frameworks to allow the manipulation and representation of open-source mapping and other spatial data. This has been, and continues to be, a significant step-change in cartography, probably the most significant in decades. All of these new frameworks have enabled anyone to manipulate spatial data, present this data, style topographic maps, create custom maps, and much more.

The open-source world is very important in (online) map-making. For me, the key frameworks/platforms below are of particular interest as tools to manage and manipulate data, find patterns and correlations, create new perspectives, render eye-catching (geo)visualisations and generate file formats that can be further enhanced, manipulated and re-purposed in Adobe applications. All this without mentioning best practice in data visualisation, as championed by Edward Tufte, or a proper understanding of data collection, significance and statistics—Garbage in garbage out (GIGO) to be discussed in a later article.

OpenStreetMap (OSM)

This is worth starting with first as it is the definitive open source mapping available online, and referenced by most of the frameworks listed below. To imagine this map database is the work of thousands of volunteers across the globe, ever-expanding and ever updating, is testament to the democratisation of mapping. There is a discipline and process that ensures that the accuracy is now good enough for an ever increasing number of professional and critical users and applications. In the early days, it was interesting, but not reliable enough for professional application. Today, it’s much improved, through still really only for smaller-scale products. Personally, it’s use at scales greater than 1:5,000 is questionable. At smaller scales, it is more impressive. It’s an ever improving and developing product so can only get better. I’ve often used it as a compilation source for work. The pedestrian wayfinding mapping for Bologna, Italy, used OSM.

Mapbox

Professionally, I feel this is the platform (as Mapbox describe their offer) that I will invest my time in mastering, though it can also be accessed by newbies! Essentially, it’s designed to integrate any location-based or spatially referenced data with OSM and high resolution satellite imagery, working with 2D and 3D data. It’s the platform that seems to have developed most and fastest these last few years. It’s being used by an ever-increasing number of both private and public organisations to generate applications that span numerous industries from agriculture to travel. Applications cover asset routing through to data visualisations. Interestingly, this is both a vector and raster-based platform.

As a cartographer, Mapbox provides a ‘Studio’ environment to allow the development of map products within the browser. It provides tools to import and manage data types and allows total control over styling and layout with tools grounded in existing web standards, such as CSS. This is a professional tool for designers. You can work with existing or custom data sets, creating cartographic visualisations that can be interacted with across numerous platforms including iOS, Android and the web. Excitingly, there has been integration with other visualisation tools like Unity and Tableau, that provides an extension in to 3D worlds, virtual realty (VR), data dashboards and more. In fact, Mapbox sum it perfectly themselves:

Build gorgeous maps to present data in new ways that help users discover [new] insights.

Leaflet

Presented as the leading open-source JavaScript library for mobile-friendly interactive maps. Without apology, this is designed to provide the features you need in as simple and efficient package as possible, with performance in mind. That said, it is still a feature-rich framework that enables lots of interactivity types and the creation of specialist map types such as choropleth and heat maps. It also integrates other frameworks such as GeoJSON.

Kartograph

Another “simple and and lightweight framework for building interactive mapping applications without Google Maps or any other [served up] mapping service.” This has particular interest as it works with scalable vector graphics (SVG), a format that looks good across all screen-based devices. I’m unsure as to how Kartograph is developing, or will continue to develop; sometimes good ideas just fall away under the pressure of other competing frameworks. Kartograph provide a JavaScript and Python library to build interactive maps. There are some nice examples here, showing promising representational options. For me, as a ‘heavy’ Adobe Illustrator user, the interoperability with SVG makes this very interesting, as demonstrated by the East Coast example.

Maperitive

This is an interesting product, unfortunately not helped by the dated website. The initial perception is perhaps of an old technological approach. Originally, this was PC only—I’m a Mac-user—so whilst I felt it interesting, it was of no potential use to me. However, there does seem to be a Mac/Linux version available that runs on Mono. The website belies some serious and professional intent and applications. The discussion and examples looking at hill-shading and elevation colouring are particularly interesting and grounded in solid cartographic theory.

D3.js

Another JavaScript library for manipulating and visualising data, but there are a lot of visualisation options, map-based as well and diagrammatic. Whilst complex data handling and visualisations are possible, the development of D3.js is grounded in a simpler and efficient code base, built upon existing web standards. There’s lots of fascinating techniques here that are accessible to all.


May, 2017

A Monitor for a Cartographer

Philips 328P6VJEB

Screen estate and colour are very important to a cartographer. Maps can be any size from A6 to more than 5×5m square. more…

Map of Ham & Petersham, London

Nick Avery Design commissioned Jason to produce a supporting map for a book they designed for self-publishing author, Vanessa Fison. more…

Zombies Run! Board Game Map #2

Following on from the success of the first board game map, developed in 2016, Six to Start engaged Jason to create a map to be used on a second board game. more…

OS Maps – the App

Recently, the Ordnance Survey (OS) updated an app for both mobile and desktop devices that utilises their 1:25,000 Explorer and 1:50,000 Landranger maps—classic OS mapping at it’s best. more…

Derby Riverside Wayfinding Map

derby01_lrg

Engaged by Derby City Council in August 2016, Jason has designed and produced the mapping for four new wayfinding signs. more…

Walks of Churchill Guide Map

In August, Jason was commissioned by Nick Avery Design to design and produce two maps to be used in a walking tour guide on Winston Churchill. more…

Zombies, Run! Board Game Map #1

A rather unusual request arrived in June from Six to Start, an independent games developer and entertainment company based in London. more…

Samlesbury Hall Visitor Plans

In May, Jason was engaged by Samlesbury Hall Trust, who maintain and run the historic house and grounds in Lancashire of the same name, to re-design and produce a new grounds/visitor plan and accompanying floorplans. more…

Waddesdon Manor Visitor Map

Engaged by The Rothschild Foundation, Jason was asked to re-design and produce a new visitor map for their impressive and extensive National Trust property and grounds in Buckinghamshire, Waddesdon Manor. more…

Knowledge Quarter Area Map

Commissioned by brand design consultancy, Piers & Dominic, Jason designed and produced a simplified map of the area covered by the Knowledge Quarter, London. more…

City Wayfinding for Bologna

Extract from the wayfinding map of Bologna, Italy

In spring 2015, Jason was commissioned by international transport consultants, Steer Davies Gleave, to design and develop the cartography and pictograms for a new wayfinding system for the historic Italian city of Bologna. more…

Hampton School Sports Fields Plan

Jason was commissioned by Hampton School, an independent boys school with a 450-year history, to design and produce a sports field plan that could be used in print and on-screen. more…

Access to Services Maps, Wales

Greengauge 21 needed Jason to produce a series of maps produced derived from the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation (2014) data to facilitate an analysis with specific rail services in north Wales. more…

Mac Pro 5,1 Resurrected

I decided to raise the bar on my workstation and go for something with a little more under the bonnet, so to speak, and that would be up to the job for the next 3–5 years. more…

Coventry Interactive Totems Mapping

coventry_LRG

Engaged by One Digital Solutions, Jason developed existing and new cartography, along with 3D illustrations of key buildings, for use on interactive wayfinding totems in the city centre. more…

We are Moving…

Ocassionally, projects are a little less serious and light-hearted—providing a much-needed respite. more…

Millfield School Site Plan

Millfield School Site Plan

Jason was commissioned by Smith & Milton Bristol to produce a simplified topographic site plan for Millfield School, a facility with extensive grounds and resources. more…

Space Interface

Jason was pleased to be able to assist architect and conceptual artist, Mathew Emmett, with his first overseas art exhibition in Düsseldorf, Germany. more…

Aldershot Advertising Totems Map

Engaged by One Digital Solutions, Jason designed and developed the cartography and 3D landmark assets for use on interactive advertising totems in the town centre. more…

Custom Pictograms for Maps

Pictogram samples

Pictograms are used widely on maps, especially those developed for wayfinding. Across many projects, Jason has designed and created pictograms for use in such situations. more…

Birmingham Wayfinding Mapping

Edgbaston

As a continuation of the Interconnect Birmingham project, Jason was engaged by City ID to develop the base mapping for the Edgbaston area of Birmingham. more…

Edinburgh BioQuarter Wayfinding

Engaged by Ironside Farrar (Landscape Architects, Environmental Planners and Civil Engineers) at the beginning of 2014, Jason provided wayfinding, information design, graphic design, cartographic and illustrative input in to this emerging landmark life science development more…

Moscow Unified Wayfinding System

At the end of 2013, Jason was engaged by City ID, leading urbanists and wayfinding practitioners, to assist them on their latest ‘legible city’ project. After their work in New York, City ID were engaged to unify, and make ‘legible’, Moscow’s extensive public transport network. more…

Interconnect Birmingham Maps

interconnect-birmingham-LRG

Interconnect is a partnership project, led by Centro, focused on improving the ‘interface’ between people, places and transport systems. The project promotes a vision of a world class movement network more…

Relax, Enjoy, Indulge!

Jason was engaged for two years by leading South West luxury holiday home provider, Blue Chip Vacations (now Blue Chip Holidays), to provide a full range of print more…

Legible London Mapping

Jason was engaged by leading urbanists and wayfinding practitioners, City ID to assist in the Richmond and Twickenham pilot for Legible London. Based in Richmond, the aim was to carry out an evaluation of the Legible London more…

Phenomenology of Space

Jason collaborated with architect and conceptual artist, Dr Mathew Emmett, in the design of a means of visually recording the phenomenological experience of space, and how it may inform architectural intervention. more…

High-Speed Rail Diagrams

Since its inception, Jason has been engaged by Greengauge 21, an organisation conceived as an umbrella under which all those with an interest in a high speed rail network can come together and openly and publicly debate more…

Maps for Spatial Communication

Spread from ‘New Development Proposals for Northstowe’


Jason produces a wide range of mapping to support organisations and companies across all their activities. Mostly, this is providing cartographic and graphic design more…

Freight Accessibility Mapping

Jason has been engaged by Transport & Travel Research Ltd over several years to help fulfil its consulting roles with numerous local authorities in providing urban freight movement more…

Bath Public Realm Spatial Analysis

The Bath Public Realm & Movement Strategy was written and produced by leading urbanists and wayfinding practitioners, City ID to assist Bath & North East Somerset Council realise more…

Metrolink Network Map

Development of the Metrolink network

Whilst working for transport planning consultants Steer Davies Gleave, I was part of the team appointed by Metrolink to re-brand and revitalise its tram network in Manchester. more…

Golf Course Graphical Information


I am new to the game of golf, but seem to have some aptitude for it—although probably rather too late in life to capitalise on it! However, the information graphics more…