TED Talks Map designer Aris Venetikidis is fascinated by the maps we draw in our minds as we move around a city -- less like street maps, more like schematics or wiring diagrams, abstract images of relationships between places.
This video touches on numerous themes that are crucial to geographers including: 1) how our minds arrange spatial information, 2) how to best graphically represent spatial information in a useful manner for your audience and 3) how mapping a place can be the impetus for changing outdated systems. This is the story of how a cartographer working to improve a local transportation system map, which in turn, started city projects to improve the infrastructure and public utilities in Dublin, Ireland. This cartographer argues that the best map design for a transport system needs to conform to how on cognitive mental mapping works more so than geographic accuracy (like so many subway maps do).
Even free alternatives to Google's mapping API provide significant advantages.
In fact, many of these alternatives have advantages over Google Maps beyond being cheaper (or free). Even if you are a small enough user of Google Maps that you wouldn't have to pay (you average less than 25,000 map views a day), it is worth your while to look at the alternatives.
Google Maps, of course, is still the 800-pound gorilla of mapping APIs. Google provides advanced features: powerful routing (including for walking, bicycling, and transit), street view, 3D buildings, weather, and traffic information. And the company isn't resting on its laurels, with a new Google Earth view and an experimental MapGL interface. Some of these features are unique to Google, so (depending on your application) you might have no choice but to use its API.
A big problem with Google is that you have little or no control. Indeed, a few years ago Google switched its Map API from V2 to V3. V3 was incompatible with V2, and Google deprecated V2 even before V3 was feature complete, causing problems for many users.
Microsoft has positioned Bing maps as an alternative to Google maps, especially for providing local information. A unique feature of Bing maps is their 'bird's eye' view, which gives aerial views from several perspective angles.
Free accounts for Bing maps limit you to 125K sessions or 500K transactions per year. Free accounts do not include 'bird's eye' or 'streetside' (streetview) maps. They also have educational and not-for-profit accounts, which do include free access to Streetside maps.
Nokia purchased Navteq (one of the major suppliers of map data) in 2007, and has been powering Yahoo maps since 2011. Not surprisingly, Nokia is largely focused on maps for mobile applications, although it does provide APIs for conventional browsers as well.
Currently, a free maps API account has a monthly limit of one million map views, which is slightly higher than the Google limit (750K / month). It also limits you to 500K searches and 500K routes per month.
MapQuest was one of the first providers for maps on the web, and today it's encouraging the transition to open maps. MapQuest is the only company that lets you choose between using licensed maps or open maps. Even using licensed map data, it has free accounts with no limits on map views. However, it does limit you to 5K calls per day for routing (including for multiple destinations), geocoding, and search.
The open map option – which uses OpenStreetMap and free satellite and aerial data – has no limits at all, but does not provide routing or traffic services. Unlike most non-open-source APIs, the open map option can be used for paid (non-public or password-protected) applications.
The OpenLayers API is a project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, and is often used with OpenStreetMap maps and data. It is a very flexible and powerful API designed to be used in advanced mapping applications, but it is somewhat complicated and large. It is a mature API with lots of features, but it can be difficult to use in mobile applications since it was designed before they became popular.
"Patrick Jean's short film "Motorville" (his follow-up to his 2010 success story "Pixels") uses Google Maps' familiar interface to tell a clever story about oil dependency.
Jean tells Fast Company's Co.Create, "The challenge was simply to animate a modern megalopolis living on a map--like massive, living organisms feeding from oil. But the problem is these organisms are not farsighted enough to achieve their own survival in the long term, because they consume all the resources around them."
" Parallel Projected 3D Maps 3D perspective maps have issues because they have convergent projection lines and fixed viewpoints. So why not make 3D maps with parallel projection lines and a viewpoint at infinity? The Plan Oblique projection does just that. So does the Orthographic Oblique projection which is a derivative of the Plan Oblique. We generally prefer the Orthographic Oblique projection because the view appears more natural. Both have parallel projection lines, a viewpoint at infinity, and both are largely free of the issues associated with perspective 3D maps "
Via Charlotte Hoarau
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