• Jennifer Still

19 Going On 30: Geovisualization Apps and Web Map Wonders

Updated: Jun 7, 2019

I have been writing a lot lately. Not here, because...well...you know. That would make sense. Instead, my buckets of wordy wisdom (read here as "word vomit") have been devoted to blog posts on behalf of the company for which I work. Recently, I came across an article during one of our campaigns that I felt the need to elaborate on here. I mean, I have been wanting to drum up the actual "geo"-related content in this girl's adventures after all.

The 19 "Awesome" Geovisualization Tools for Beautiful Maps

An article originally posted by the awesome Geoawesomeness details 19 geovisualization tools, APIs, and libraries that serve in amping up your web map creation game. It is a great list full of contenders like Esri, Tableau, Mapbox, D3.js, Leaflet, and the like. It paints a pretty picture when it comes to determining what resources are out there for your web wandering. The problem? Well, it is more of a personal problem.

​19 mentions? Only 19? This is such a sticky number and so close to another round number (*cough* 20 *cough*) that would have been more ideal for a list. I sometimes have a lot of opinions about things, and lists...oddly enough...fall into this realm. Personally, I like to follow two rules when it comes to numbering listicles...

  1. When possible, end out your list with an increment of five. This means, create lists with 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and so on items nested within it.When the above is not possible, end your list with an even number. In my mind, even numbers have a much more positive connotation. Odd numbers are called "odd" for a reason.

  2. The above rules only apply for lists with five or more items, of course. Anything below that number is fair game. That's just the way my entirely-scientifically-based rules work.

With that said, I am not at all faulting Geoawesomeness for publishing a 19-itemed list. That would be crazy, and I reserve my craziness for Thursdays. Today is Saturday. 

To ease my troubled and odd-number riddled mind, I went on the hunt for at least one extra resource for web map generation to help round this out to a 20-prong post. They did a great job of uncovering resources I have never heard of so this task took longer than the 2.63 minutes I had originally dedicated to it. However, when it rains, it pours. With this rain, came a surplus of materials to supplement those already acknowledged by Geoawesomeness.

Eleven extra to be exact. No Eggos included.

20. Polymaps

Polymaps is a free Javascript library for creating dynamic, interactive web maps. It utilizes both SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) and spherical mercator tile format to display information, allowing you to further stylize the map interface with CSS.

21. Modest Maps

Not to be confused with that band named Modest Mouse, Modest Maps is a free library that sticks to its name. Designed to aide in the production of clean interactive maps, this library is built to make it easy for users to build upon its source code.

22. jQuery Mapael

jQuery Mapael is a jQuery plugin based on raphael.js that facilitates the visualization of dynamic vector maps. This resource offers a number of features in common with others like it - and then some. Maps created are resizable and are also SEO-friendly, which is always a plus if you want people to actually find those fancy maps you make.

23. Cesium

Cesium is a solution designed specifically for the creation of WebGL visualizations of data mapped onto 3D globes. The demos are pretty cool, and bonus? You can even do a little Santa Clause tracking while you are there.

24. Turf

Often confused with that green organism lying atop the front lawn, this resource offers advanced geospatial analysis for browsers and nodes. Its API page thoroughly showcases Turf's features and capabilities.

25. Stamen

If you got to know a couple of the previously mentioned resources, you may recognize this name. Stamen is associated with apps like Modest Maps, offering map tiles for open source projects. It has everything from watercolor-styled maps to maps literally on fire.

26. Snazzy Maps

Looking to use Google Maps as your canvas, but want to throw a bit of paint on it? Snazzy Maps has you covered. It offers different styles for Google Maps specifically aimed at web designers and developers. It seems to be an ideal resource for someone who wants a customized map without the heavy lifting of creating one from scratch.

27. Bing Maps for Enterprise

If you are looking to piggy back on an existing mapping platform, Bing offers several APIs to help you accomplish this task.

28. Mapquest for Business

Do you remember back in the day before it was possible to ask Siri how to get from your couch to the Chic-Fil-A two blocks away, how you would have to find the answer from Mapquest and print any directions should you have the memory of a goldfish? Yeah. Me neither. As it turns out, Mapquest managed to turn its aged process into a production unit for generating web maps for business use. Who knew?

29. Map Compare

Coming at you as more of a way to help you choose between the above mapping resources rather than a way in which to build a web map from scratch, Map Compare allows you to compare solutions alongside one another to get a better idea if its style will work for you. It is a great resource if you are short on both time and level of commitment.

30. Streetmap Smackdown

Similar to the previous resource, the Streetmap Smackdown offers another interface for comparing web map resources. Plus, the name will encourage you to reminisce about your Street Fighter days all while testing out the prime interface for your future map marvels.

Well, that is all for now. I am sure there are dozens - or even hundreds? - more applications out there would also aide in exploring web map production and customization. If you know of any more, all ears!