Working at CARTO, the Location Intelligence platform, taught me a lot about digital cartography and web mapping, something I’ve continued applying in several personal projects.1
This project started because I wanted to create a simple solution to get travel tips from my friends. In the past, I had made a couple of interactive maps to get recommendations for my trips to Japan and New York and it had worked pretty well.
Setting up new maps was manual process, though. I wanted to set up new maps faster, just by clicking a button (not that I travel that often, especially since, well… you know)
Another big reason to create this project was that I wanted other people to do the same thing without dealing with server configurations.
Users can subscribe to the map using RSS or download the public data in CSV format. I plan to add the option to import a list of points so users can create maps that have content right from the start. Combine this with the current export feature, and we’ll have a nice little backup system right there.
Initially, I decided to use Twitter OAuth as the login system and also as a way to reduce spam messages. In a second version, I expanded the options to allow for more fine-grained interactions with the maps.
In the current version, map administrators can now select three different publication settings: anonymous (anybody can publish anything without login), moderated (the admin has to approve every publication), and protected (nobody except for the administrator can publish anything).
Right from the start of the project, I decided to avoid using any Google solution for two reasons: first, they are expensive, making it costly and complicated for other people to set up a map. Second, I don’t like their business model based on selling ads and using users’ browsing data.
Because of this, the reverse geocoding (which is the system that transforms a point in a map into an address) is powered by the open-source project Nominatim by OpenStreetMap.
Since OpenStreetMap is a public project and has limited resources, if they don’t have the address for the location, I encourage the visitor to add it to the project themself. In a future version, I’d like to automate this process entirely. But in any case, visitors can still add the place manually to the map.
Thanks to Glitch’s remix functionality people can clone my example and create their own customizable map quickly. For more advanced usages, the whole project is open-source in this GitHub repo.
1 Like this one I launched back in 2015 called Spotimap, which was a catalog of 7,681 songs that were related to 212 cities across the globe. The project was covered in Boing Boing, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, and Die Welt).