TileMill — Now Available on Windows

TileMill has been out for about a year, but Windows users have had to run it on a Virtual Machine. Until now!

We’re excited to bring you TileMill 0.9.0. The latest release of our map design studio adds native Windows support, a new plugin system, and key core improvements. Whether you’ve been meaning to try TileMill or are a longtime user, expect a more powerful, accessible map design experience starting today.

There is a whole lot more than just a Windows release, plugins, tons of performance issues and some slick new UI features. As always, it is available at


And even more cool stuff from Development Seed, MapBox for iPad 1.8 is out.


FOSS4G North American 2012

Not much notice, but there will be a FOSS4G in North America this year.

On the heels of last year’s successful and well-attended international FOSS4G event in Colorado, many of us in the community of free and open source geospatial software developers, users, and advocates in North America recognized the need for a regular gathering in North America. So this year we have come together to plan the first ever FOSS4G North America conference, an event to take place April 10?12, 2012 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. FOSS4G-NA will bring together many public and private-sector stakeholders at the forefront of some of the world’s most innovative free and open source software to discuss and work on building tools to help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

I can’t decide if I’m closer to China or Washington DC. Remember nobody gets kicked off the plane for playing OSGeo with Friends.

Alec Baldwin Pilont


A Minimalist OpenStreetMap Baselayer

I’m a sucker for these simple background base maps.

I am designing a new minimal OpenStreetMap base map in TileMill to use with MapBox hosting platform map builder. The goal for the design is a general OpenStreetMap layer that can be used as a light, very subtle background for compositing further data on top of. Here is an early look at the features and design aspects I have been working on for the map.

Minimal OSM TileMill

Read the post, this is how you create a baseman you can actually use. Stop putting your data on top of map services designed for navigation that end up clashing/competing with your story. Oh and MapBox and TileMill are still very awesome! Windows users should note that TileMill will be available on Windows any day.


Bing Maps gets Nokia Brand and Possibly the Boot

The Microsoft/Nokia relationship gets a little confusing these days. According to Pocket-Lint:

Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop, has told Pocket-lint that we shall soon be seeing the Nokia brand name within other devices and not just the company’s own phones.

“You’ll starting seeing the word ‘Nokia’ on a map that you get from Microsoft properties over a period of time,” Elop explained to Pocket-lint in an interview behind closed doors at CES in Las Vegas. “Even if you are on a BlackBerry device, who recently said they were going to start using Bing Maps.”

Interesting isn’t it? Nokia Maps on other devices. Here is the kicker…

“Part of the relationship we established with Microsoft is that we are clearly placing a bet on the Windows Phone platform. [In return] they are placing a bet on our location-based platform: mapping, navigation and so forth,” said Elop.

Thus it appears, at least in Nokia’s mind, that Bing Maps might eventually be replaced with Nokia Maps. Clearly Nokia believes that they bring navigation and location to the partnership. I’m sure though, as with everything Microsoft related, this is going to be much more complicated than it should be. In a perfect world, Microsoft and Nokia would agree that Bing Maps should be replaced by Nokia Maps and get it done quickly and with minimal fuss. The reality is that there will probably be three mapping platforms. The old Bing Maps, the old Nokia Maps and this new hybrid Nokia Maps (powered by Bing?) that blends the two services.

Ugh, right? Check with Pocket-link tomorrow to see the full interview with Elop and hopefully more detail into what this means. Almost a year ago I talked a little bit about this scenario, maybe it is finally time.


I Can’t Figure Out a Use For This, But I Want A 65-inch Multi-touch 3D Display

CES is boring, all companies do is announce products that by the time they hit the shelves they are stale. But this Ideum MT65 3D Display feels so right:

The MT65 Presenter multitouch wall

Engadget says it is available in either Windows 7 today or Linux by March. Thus you can totally be rolling with either your Esri or Open Source GIS tool of your choice. It costs about $18,000 so start saving those pennies!


It’s Only Evil if You Get Caught, Right?

From RWW:

The official blog of Open Street Map reports tonight that someone at a range of Google IP addresses in India has been editing the collaboratively made map of the world in some very unhelpful ways, like moving and deleting information and reversing the direction of one-way streets on the map.

I’m not going to bring up the don’t be evil quote, but clearly Google is beginning to lose control of their empire. Rouge employees do what they think is best for the company, but cleaning house won’t change things. It’s a culture of attack competitors and apologize later. I’m sure Google will eventually “make right” what happened, but what about all those times they haven’t gotten caught?


Googlezilla is a dangerous beast. It comes out of the water and starts messing with your pretty little town.

Truthfully, this is a management problem. The chair moisteners from Sector 7G are being either told to do this directly or indirectly by someone else. Hopefully Google changes their management style to clamp down on these issues.

**Update: **RWW has confirmation from Google that these were two people doing unauthorized edits on the company dime. Again, clearly this is a management problem.


Best Way To Future Proof Your Web Map Service Choice? Could Be Mapstraction.


So there are a lot of companies leaving Google Maps for other services. But you read about others who can’t leave because their customers demand Google Maps. Quite a fluid situation isn’t it?

Someone asked me yesterday what should they do. How can they plan for the inevitable changes they’ll be making to their web map services. A good solution might be Mapstraction. It’s a programming library that allows you to easily switch between web map providers without having to change much if any of your code.

Why Mapstraction?

By avoid dependency on any specific mapping provider (or versions within a provider) your code is easier to maintain.
A book I reviewed about a year ago, Map Scripting 101, is a great starter for those who want to read up on Mapstraction. I mentioned that Mapstraction might be a good choice for beginners, but I think with the uncertainty of licensing and costs with web mapping APIs, Mapstraction might be a good choice for anyone.


Urban Airship Shuts Down SimpleGeo

The crazy ride is over:

In order to deliver on this aggressive vision in the shortest amount of time possible, we need to focus our product development efforts. So, after lots of internal discussion and customer conversations, we will wind down the availability of the current versions of Places, Context, and Storage over the next few months. We will do everything we can to minimize the impact to customers as we look to end the availability of these services on March 31, 2012.

And just like that, SimpleGeo API is headed out to the dead zone.

What a World

What a world! (side note: I didn’t know the GeoMonkey could fly)


Goodbye Google Maps? A Trend Appears

Goodbye, Google Maps thanks for all the fish:

We at StreetEasy decided to build our own maps using, among other tools, OpenStreetMap, TileMill, MapBox and Leaflet, instead of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to Google. And yes, the money pushed us into doing it, but we’re happier with the result because we now control the contents of our maps.

The free ride had to end for most companies. But what is surprising is how easy it is to change your tile map service. Plus see a theme here? OpenStreetMap, TileMill, MapBox, and Leaflet is a trend. Giddy up!


Google Maps – The Game

In about a month, Google is going to release a game on Google+ based on Google Maps and built using WebGL (Sorry IE users).

…there’s a video preview of a new Google Maps for Google+ app shown below which uses WebGL and apparently user-location to collect points as you travel around floorplan maps. Full details haven’t been shared, but the game will apparently arrive in February.

Now the video doesn’t show much about the details for the game but navigating a 3d mapping world (using the Google Maps API) in a WebGL application in a browser is pretty awesome. Plus going inside and outside the buildng? Sign me up!

Google Maps WebGL Game

Looks like fun to me, but we’ll have to wait a month.

It is a shame about WebGL support not being exactly cross-platform, but with a little work, you can get it enabled on any browser. Cools stuff is on the horizon with 3D web mapping applications.