By Greg Miller:
GEODATA IS BLOWING up like crazy. As of last year, more than 680,000 apps in the Apple store were using location services to pinpoint users and serve up site-specific directions or restaurant recommendations (just to name two obvious examples). Entities from city governments to human rights groups are uploading torrents of location data on everything from fruit trees to drone strikes. Wrangling all that geodata and turning into something useful is a huge challenge.
New web-based software from Mapbox aims to help. The DC and San Francisco-based company has been working for more than a year to overhaul its Mapbox Studio software. Its intended audience is developers and “super powerful high-end cartographers,” says CEO Eric Gundersen. But you don’t have to belong to some elite cartographic strike force to use it. It has a graphic interface that’s fairly easy to navigate, especially for people familiar with programs like Illustrator or Photoshop. The idea, Gundersen says, was to create a powerful mapmaking tool for the pros that’s also accessible for the mapmaking masses.
“Mapmaking has traditionally consisted of 80% getting ready to design a map, fussing with datasources, installing software, and then 20% design,” says Tom MacWright, one of the lead developers on the project. “A ton of work has gone into eliminating steps, removing grunt work, so people can actually be creative.”
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