Easy and customizable maps with TileMill

Posted to Software  |  Tags:  |  Nathan Yau

I’m late to this party. TileMill, by mapping platform MapBox, is open source software that lets you quickly and easily create and edit maps. It’s available for OS X, Windows, and Ubuntu. Just download and install the program, and then load a shapefile for your point of interest.

For those unfamiliar with shapefiles, it’s a file format that describes geospatial data, such as polygons (e.g. countries), lines (e.g. roads), and points (e.g. landmarks), and they’re pretty easy to find these days. For example, you can download detailed shapefiles for roads, bodies of water, and blocks in the United States from the Census Bureau in just a few clicks.

The fun part is that you can easily customize the maps using a map stylesheet, which is similar to CSS. There are examples with the software, so you can get a feel for how everything fits together. You can also export your results as an image file or as SVG to edit in your favorite vector-editing software. Or if you want to publish your map online, it’s straightforward to upload it to MapBox with an account.



Shifting Incomes for American Jobs

For various occupations, the difference between the person who makes the most and the one who makes the least can be significant.

Years You Have Left to Live, Probably

The individual data points of life are much less predictable than the average. Here’s a simulation that shows you how much time is left on the clock.

Graphical perception – learn the fundamentals first

Before you dive into the advanced stuff – like just about everything in your life – you have to learn the fundamentals before you know when you can break the rules.

The Changing American Diet

See what we ate on an average day, for the past several decades.