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Dynamic Maps, Static Storage

· 9 min read
Brandon Liu
Cartographic Technologist

Serverless computing supposedly will let developers run sophisticated applications on the web without wrangling virtual machines or databases. New products like Lambda offer simpler deploys for code; emerging standards like WebAssembly let you host SQLite databases on GitHub pages and make queries all from your browser. These examples rely on developers adopting new workflows or programming environments. So what if I told you that you've been computing serverlessly without realizing it?

Behold this one megabyte embedded video, a clip from Powers of Ten: A Film Dealing with the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero:

A new way to make maps with OpenStreetMap

· 7 min read
Brandon Liu
Cartographic Technologist

If you develop for the web, you've probably heard of OpenStreetMap, an open data alternative to Google Maps. Despite the wide name recognition of OSM, you may have questions like how do I make a web map with OSM data? and how can I host maps myself?

There are popular guides on how to work with planet files, PostGIS databases, and run tileservers for the OSM "slippy map" style. Even if you figure those out, you may be curious about vector maps for high-DPI sharpness and client-side customization of appearance and labels.

Protomaps is a new basemap system which is an end-to-end rethinking of this entire stack, oriented around the idea that custom mapmaking should be simple.

Zonal Statistics for OpenStreetMap in the browser

· 4 min read
Brandon Liu
Cartographic Technologist

A common user interaction in GIS applications is selecting a bounding box or polygon:

Your application may then use this polygon to do things like:

  • Render a high resolution, printable map image.
  • Generate a report of the surface area of buildings.
  • Calculate an isochrone map of distance to transit.