Mapeteria: user-generated thematic maps

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May 19, 2007, 6:52:46 PM5/19/07
to KML Developer Support - Third Party Applications
I'm really excited to announce Mapeteria, a tool to let you generate
thematic maps in KML more easily.

With Mapeteria, you do not need to know the boundaries of areas
yourself to make a thematic map. You also don't need to figure out
the color mapping: you just need to give Mapeteria a data file that
gives the *name* of the area and the attribute you want mapped.

I have been thinking for over a year that such a service *ought* to
exist. Normal users shouldn't have to know what vertices and
shapefiles are! I got tired of waiting for Google to do it, so did
it myself. :-)

More details:

Thematic maps are maps with areas coloured based on the value of some
attribute of the area, like population density in that area or number
of tire repair stores in that area. Examples: -- US state and Canadian province/
territory median ages -- French department milk
production (you have to scroll over to France)

Those examples show data that I used, but you can use your own data.
Mapeteria takes care of the color mapping calculation and the shape
calculations for you. For example, if you have quarterly sales data
in a format like
then Mapeteria can give you a KML with California coloured a very
bright red and Alaska white. (More explanation is on the web site.)

What areas are available to colour in on your thematic map? I've
currently got area geometries for US states, Canadian provinces/
territories, and French départements built-in.

While I don't (yet) have a way for people to upload geometries
automatically, if you have data for other areas, I'm completely open
to incorporating those as well. I'll only take data that can be
freely republished, and Mapeteria needs a high-res and a low-res
version of the geometries. (I can do some algorithmic simplification,
but it can look kind of ugly.)

While I don't say so on my site, there is some limited support for
country geometries. You can make good-looking KMLs and use them in
Google Earth just fine.

I'm telling this group about country geometries because you are
presumably technically competent and reasonable. I don't mention it on
the Mapeteria site because:
+ My site has will also create Google Maps using the KMLs, and
there is a Google Maps bug in displaying polygons that cross 180E/W
(like Russia). I don't want to spend my time answering email from
n00bs who complain that my site is broken.
+ I don't have a low-res version of country boundaries yet, so it
is very VERY slow to display on Google Maps. I don't want to deal
with n00bs complaining that displaying countries on GMaps is too slow.
+ I am not ready with documentation, and don't want to spend time
now answering questions about e.g. how to deal with Yugoslavia's
borders changing.

If you want to use countries:
+ Use the two-letter ISO country code as the first column in your
CSV and put the attribute in the second field.
+ Don't go out of your way to tell people about the service. It's
okay (and appreciated!) to give me credit, but don't go posting the
availability of countries on your blog (yet). I'm probably not even
ready to post info on Mapki about it.

I've tested states/provinces/departments on FF/Linux, FF/Windows, FF/
Mac, IE/Windows, Safari/Mac. I haven't tested country geometries
thoroughly recently. Please let me know about any bugs that you find
in Mapeteria.

The code is in PHP, and I plan to open-source it when I get it
organized. If there are features that you'd like in the service, let
me know. If you'd like to help, let me know. I will post again once
I get Mapeteria open-sourced.

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