Simon Willison’s Weblog


41 items tagged “maps”


How to make self-hosted maps that work everywhere and cost next to nothing. Chris Amico provides a detailed roundup of the state of web mapping in 2024. It’s never been easier to entirely host your own mapping infrastructure, thanks to OpenStreetMap, Overture, MBTiles, PMTiles, Maplibre and a whole ecosystem of other fine open source projects.

I like Protomaps creator Brandon Liu’s description of this: “post-scarcity web mapping”.

# 24th February 2024, 4:19 am / gis, maps, chris-amico


How The Post is replacing Mapbox with open source solutions (via) Kevin Schaul describes the Washington Post’s emerging open source GIS stack: OpenMapTiles, Maputnik, PMTiles and Maplibre-gl-js.

# 17th February 2023, 6:45 pm / maps, opensearch, openstreetmap, washington-post


A tiny web app to create images from OpenStreetMap maps

Visit A tiny web app to create images from OpenStreetMap maps

Earlier today I found myself wanting to programmatically generate some images of maps.

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Apple’s New Map (via) Map nerds rejoice! Justin O’Beirne had written another spectacularly illustrated essay about web cartography, this time examining the iOS 12 upgrade to Apple Maps in most of California and a little bit of Nevada.

# 3rd November 2018, 9:28 pm / maps

Datasette plugins, and building a clustered map visualization

Datasette now supports plugins!

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Is there an open source (or freely accessible) database of geofence coordinates for common places, such as cities or national parks?

Take a look at Flickr’s openly licensed shapefiles:

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Does the Google Maps API let you remove details of the map such as street names to focus on pins on the map?

Yes—you can do this with map styles (which allow you to set the visibility if road labels, among other things):

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Cartographer.js. “Thematic mapping for Google Maps”—which means an easy way of adding heat maps (aka chloropleths), pie charts and point clusters as a layer over a Google map.

# 1st November 2009, 1:20 pm / catography, chloropleths, google, google-maps, graphs, heatmaps, infographics, mapping, maps, piecharts, visualisation

Best of OpenStreetMap (via) I keep on telling people OpenStreetMap is this year’s Wikipedia—at its best, it beats commercially available maps. This “best of” site highlights the areas where OSM really shines (the yellow stars)—the German mapping community in particular have produced some outstanding cartography.

# 13th August 2009, 12:30 pm / cartography, mapping, maps, openstreetmap, wikipedia

Making Image Overlays Easy with GGroundOverlay and GGeoXML (via) Surprisingly, there doesn’t appear to be a good online tool for helping align an overlay image with a Google Map and exporting the result as a KML file. This is the best I could find—Yahoo! used to have a tool called MapMixer but it doesn’t seem to exist any more.

# 30th July 2009, 10:58 pm / google-maps, maps, overlays

Flickr Shapefiles Public Dataset 1.0. Another awesome Geo dataset from the Yahoo! stable—this time it’s Flickr releasing shapefiles (geometrical shapes) for hundreds of thousands of places around the world, under the CC0 license which makes them essentially public domain. The shapes themselves have been crowdsourced from geocoded photos uploaded to Flickr, where users can “correct” the textual location assigned to each photo. Combine this with the GeoPlanet WOE data and you get a huge, free dataset describing the human geography of the world.

# 22nd May 2009, 6:12 pm / creativecommons, crowdsourcing, flickr, geo, geoplanet, geospatial, maps, shapefiles, yahoo

UK Television Series Map. Inspired by the US sitcom map, Meg Pickard is plotting TV series on a map of the UK.

# 5th April 2009, 7:25 pm / maps, megpickard, tv

1901EasternTelegraph.jpg (via) A map of undersea telegraph cables as of 1901.

# 9th February 2009, 8:44 pm / cables, maps, undersea

Travel time to major cities: A global map of Accessibility (via) Visualisation developed by the European Commission and the World Bank.

# 5th January 2009, 1:24 pm / europeancommission, maps, visualisation, worldbank


Motorway map of England, Scotland and Wales (via) In the style of Harry Beck’s London Tube map.

# 22nd December 2008, 11:36 am / maps, motorways, tubemap

Noncontiguous area cartograms. a.k.a. really funky data visualisation maps. Includes lots of examples, plus ActionScript 3 source code.

# 8th December 2008, 6:03 pm / as3, cartograms, flash, maps, visualisation

Live Piracy Map. That’s a heck of a lot of (real, nasty, sea-faring) pirates.

# 1st December 2008, 12:29 am / maps, pirates

FOWA London—Beyond GoogleMaps. Andrew Turner’s talk at FOWA was the most information dense presentation I’ve ever seen, and discussed a huge number of cool geo projects that I’d never previously heard of. Andrew links to the full slides and video, well worth a watch.

# 17th October 2008, 2:01 pm / andrew-turner, fowa2008, geo, google-maps, maps, presentations

Places to see in London (for geeks). My geek-oriented guide to London attractions that you may not hear about otherwise, updated for this year’s overseas FOWA attendees. Suggestions for additions welcome.

# 8th October 2008, 2:54 pm / fowa2008, geeks, googlemymaps, london, maps

Ordnance Survey OpenSpace Demo (via) Niall Kennedy threw a demo up on his site—the map seems to load a lot faster than Google Maps and the level of detail once you zoom down to street level is really impressive.

# 9th June 2008, 10:59 am / maps, niallkennedy, openspace, ordinancesurvey

OS OpenSpace from Ordnance Survey (via) Ordinance Survey now provide a free JavaScript mapping API for “non-commercial purposes” by “private individuals”. The maps look incredibly detailed, although I can’t find any live API demos on the site (the documentation is illustrated with screenshots).

# 9th June 2008, 8:30 am / geo, javascript, maps, openspace, ordinancesurvey

OSM Super-Strength Export. Awesome new feature on OpenStreetMap: you can browse to anywhere on the map, then hit “export” and download a rendered bitmap or vector (PDF and SVG) image of the currently displayed map—and because it’s OSM there’s no watermark and a very liberal usage license.

# 22nd April 2008, 9:56 am / mapping, maps, openstreetmap, pdf, svg, vector

KML: A new standard for sharing maps. Google’s KML format, which is already supported by both Microsoft and Yahoo!’s map software, has been accepted under the wing of the Open Geospatial Consortium and is now an international standard.

# 14th April 2008, 6:36 pm / google, google-maps, kml, mapping, maps, ogc

A List Apart: Issue 256. The EveryBlock issue. Paul Smith on EveryBlock’s tasty custom maps, and Wilson Miner on EveryBlock’s tasty accessible data charts.

# 9th April 2008, 12:21 pm / alistapart, everyblock, maps, paul-smith, wilson-miner

London Connections. Marvellously obsessive blog about the vagaries of London transport, including some really nice custom created maps. I love detailed maps of tube stations; anyone know a good place to find them?

# 2nd April 2008, 8:53 pm / london, londonconnections, mapping, maps, transport

Google Maps Clusterer. I’ve looked at a few clustering libraries for Google Maps, but this one seems to have the nicest API.

# 28th January 2008, 3:07 pm / clustering, google-maps, maps


Information Freeway (via) Really lovely interface to Open Street Map, sadly suffering from a horribly vague name and almost no publicity at all.

# 14th October 2007, 11:58 pm / mapping, maps, openstreetmap

Get Lat Lon. I finally got fed up of hunting around for simple latitude/longitude tools when messing around with mapping APIs, so I built my own with a memorable URL. I plan to add new features as and when I need them.

# 12th October 2007, 2:14 pm / getlatlon, google-maps, latitude, latlon, longitude, maps, negeography, projects

Introduction and Yahoo! Pipes. The official Google Maps API blog describes how to plot KML output from Yahoo! Pipes.

# 3rd May 2007, 10 pm / google, google-maps, maps, xml, yahoo, yahoopipes

Soviet Military Maps History. “I have been researching the history of the Soviet global mapping project and, in particular, the large scale plans of British and Irish towns and cities produced from 1950s to 1990.”

# 11th April 2007, 12:43 pm / maps, soviet