I’ll tell you right off the bat: making Victor’s Periodic Table was super fun. But also hard. Love’s like that.
These days, there’s so many mapping platforms out there that it can be a real hassle deciding what to use. Between Google Maps API, Leaflet, Mapbox, OpenStreetMaps, arcGIS and more, it’s too much to figure out if you’re not in the know.
So I’m here to help you out a bit — at least with Mapbox. Mapbox has recently (as in, in the past year or so) rolled out a total revision to the way their mapping is done. Now data must flow in a very managed fashion through datasets to tiles and styles. It’s a little confusing at first, and I’ll give you a bird’s-eye perspective on Mapbox’s strengths and weaknesses in relation to a few typical projects.
It can be pretty overwhelming and complex to decide on a mapping API to use when you’re new to the whole idea of interactive mapping, and when you might not know exactly where your project will go.
Many companies are interested in finding out how many of a certain business-type, competitor, supplier, or otherwise, might be in a particular area. Or maybe you’re making an app and you only want users to see information about nearby parks.
If the area being searched is relatively small (one or two cities), the Google Places API is a great choice for querying businesses and other local locations. It is a bit complex to implement this in a lot of specific details, but getting started is a breeze.
Let’s make a basic map that takes a set of latitude and longitude, and returns a set of simple nearby labels showing particular kinds of local places.