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.

5 Comments

Favorites

Where People Run in Major Cities

There are many exercise apps that allow you to keep …

One Dataset, Visualized 25 Ways

“Let the data speak” they say. But what happens when the data rambles on and on?

Jobs Charted by State and Salary

Jobs and pay can vary a lot depending on where you live, based on 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here’s an interactive to look.

Life expectancy changes

The data goes back to 1960 and up to the most current estimates for 2009. Each line represents a country.