a world of mapping and more

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mapster.me

We are a Vancouver startup specializing in interactive mapping. We are also deeply interesting in helping non-profits of all stripes to get their projects online.

Mapbox

Free Courses on YouTube

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since we’ve posted at all on the blog, but it’s not because we haven’t been busy. We’ve been building tons of great mapping applications, helping Native-Land.ca get off the ground, and working with tons of new clients. We will be featuring some of our work in coming posts, as well as some helpful content for new digital mapmakers.

For now, this post is to announce that we’ve decided to add our Leaflet course and our Mapbox Studio & Mapbox GL JS course free on YouTube now — not just on Udemy! We want to make mapping available to all the masses and anyone who wants to learn. We figure that’s a good business decision, in addition to helping everybody out to learn the best they can.

The videos are a little outdated, but we sure hope they can help people out. That’s what keeps us going, after all — knowing that we’re contributing in some way to make things better.

Stay tuned for more, coming soon!

Mapping Water Sources in Uganda

Ugandan Water Source Map by Scotty Hagen

I was blown away when I heard that 1 in 4 people on the planet don’t have access to clean water. I was even more dumbfounded to learn how many inexpensive and effective solutions there are for this issue. Some are as simple as jerry can caps that provide UV treatment when left out for 24 hours; while others are much more complex, like creating large gravity flow systems that take water from a source and transport it down to water pumps in remote villages.

This interactive map shows the different water projects in Uganda, made by the organization ACTS. ACTS builds gravity flow systems. You can zoom in on each source to view the number of people that the water source is serving. The map also indicates where the tap stands are located in the villages and a few of the stops that the water takes from source to tap stand along the way. This access to clean water saves Ugandans from walking an average of 2km, multiple times a day, and the clean water protects them from various illnesses and allows them to spend that time either in school or working.

For more information on water projects in Uganda, visit ACTS’ website.

Our Locate Schedule

Mapster is thrilled to be going to Locate, Mapbox’s first event celebrating and exploring the connectedness of the world around us. The event takes place in San Francisco from May 30-31, and people from all over are coming to share ideas and information about the great mapping related projects they’re working on!

We wish we could attend all of the talks, but there are just so many. So, we’ve narrowed down a schedule for ourselves, and we hope you’ll join us.

Data-Driven Styling in Studio (Live Demo) – Dana Sulit, 11.40 AM, May 30

We love styling maps, and Mapbox has been making faster and better updates at a rapid pace. It’s not perfect yet—but we have been noticing great improvements in their data-driven styling and we can’t wait to see even more options. We’ll definitely have a lot to learn from Dana Sulit, Product Designer and Mapbox!

Mapster Developer Table – 12.30 PM, May 30

Come say hi to a couple of us from the Mapster team! We’ll be showing off our WP Mapbox GL JS plugin and talking a little about how we built it. We’ll also discuss the Digitizer, our Udemy course, and more. Come by and stand around awkwardly with us a little!

National Geographic and The Geographer of the United States of America have Coffee with Ira – 1.15 PM, May 30

We are huge nerds about National Geographic. What can we say, who doesn’t love rich information and beautiful imagery? It’ll be nice to attend a slightly less technical discussion about maps and their wider purpose, from some high-level experts. We think so much of mapping is really a psychological, emotional experience, and we want to engage with that wider conversation led by Gary Knell and Lee R. Schwartz.

Native Land Community Table – 2.00 PM, May 30

We’re running a table with Marena Brinkhurst, Community Team Program Manager at Mapbox, to discuss Victor Temprano’s project and the growing nonprofit that is Native Land. Come say hello, chat about the map, let us know your thoughts, complaints, and ideas!

Human to Machine Interfaces: Designing the Autonomous World and Putting Humans First – 3.45 PM, May 30

This. Is. Really. Cool.

We are part of an industry that’s exploding, and at the forefront of these new technologies are autonomous, or self-driving, cars. However, there a lot of ethical questions and problems that can be raised by autonomous machines—are they safe? Will they cause people to lose jobs and income equality to increase? Can we design them in a way that provide the most benefits and the least amount of harm?

These questions need to be addressed, and Åsa Forsell and Brennan Boblett will attempt to address some of the design issues that autonomous vehicles present.

You’re Blind and You’re Lost: Click “OnStar” Built into Your Glasses – 5.15 PM, May 30

This talk by Austin Marron of Aira will address the business model that strives to create a better experience for people who are vision-impaired. Ultimately, technology should be created to help us, and this company is doing just that by providing augmented reality to vision-impaired people in a way that helps them navigate the world in a more easeful way.

We are really interested in this idea and we love hearing about innovative and creative uses for technology. Mapster has been working on some voice recognition technology with Amazon’s Alexa so who knows, maybe this talk will spark some new ideas for us!

After Party, 6.00 PM, May 30

What is a conference without an after party to meet the speakers and other people interested in mapping? We can’t wait to have some fun and meet new friends and clients alike.

Social Impact Breakfast Meetup – 8 AM, May 31

We’ll definitely come to this with Marena Brinkhurst, the Community Team Program Manager at Mapbox, and hopefully we’ll meet other people doing really interesting things with mapping technology. Do we even have to mention the complimentary breakfast?

We will be there and ready to chat about Native Land, but we’re really interested in a lot of other projects and we just hope to make great connections with other creative and engaged people.

Mapster Developer Table – 9.30 AM, May 31

Another chance to come say hi to us in the Developer Network demo area in the Exploration Hall! We’ll be getting a little more nerdy about the advanced WP Mapbox GL JS plugin and our ideas for automatic digitization and improving map accessibility for programmers.

It’s a little too bad this is at the same time as the Reactive Apps workshop, but maybe try to stop by at both!

Reactive Apps with GL JS – 9.30 AM, May 31

Pretty much all we’ve been doing lately at Mapster is build apps using React.js. It seems like everyone is really excited about React.js and React Native and we’re at the cutting edge of integrating Mapbox GL JS into React.js. We are loving all this work we’ve been doing, and we hope to learn new tricks and tips from the speaker and Mapbox engineer Anand Thakker. Can’t wait! We’ll have to send at least one team member here!

The New Era of Web Maps: Leaflet vs GL JS – 10.15 AM, May 31

How could we not attend this talk by Vladimir Agafonkin, Mapbox Engineer and creator of Leaflet, the leading open-source JavaScript library for mobile-friendly interactive maps? We have a feeling that Agafonkin has a strong sense of the future of mapping, and we want to be on the cutting-edge with anything Leaflet.

Native Land Community Table – 12.15 PM, May 30

A short table just to show a bit about Native Land and try to get as much feedback as possible. We’d love to hear your thoughts, criticisms, and ideas for better and more engaging tools!

Hackbox — Creative Misuse Cases – 2.15 PM, May 31

If we have time, we’ll sneak to this talk by Mapbox engineer Damon Burgett, who will be discussing the strange and accidental things that people do with maps. Because Mapbox is so flexible, people can find really creative ways to “misuse” it, and we want to see the best of these!

We have to admit, we’ve thought up quite a few Mapbox hacks of our own, especially around how to load enormous datasets beyond the maximum allowed, and it would be great to see some other fun workarounds!

Locate

Obviously we would love to attend a whole lot more than we’ve listed here, and given that we’ve got three Mapster employees attending, there’s a great chance that we’ll be spread around throughout! Tweet at us, send us a message, or just shout “Mapster” at the conference and one of us will come running!

We’re thrilled to be attending all these amazing talks, and we can’t wait to see you there. Come see us at our table at Exploration Hall when we’re not attending these fantastic talks.

Locate Mapster… at Locate!

So, this business thing is quite a ride. I wasn’t expecting things to be easy, but then, I didn’t know what to expect. It’s fun, tiring, and mostly just really interesting. Mapster keeps growing, and there’s Native Land to manage at the same time, and new people, and life changes… it’s a lot!

At the end of this month, we’re going to be going to the Locate conference in San Francisco. We made a really nice connection the Mapbox team a few weeks ago, and it’s been exciting to chat back and forth about all the cool tools we’re making and our awesome projects.

Mapbox has been really great, even though they must be so busy with the conference coming up fast. Here’s a few things they did for us:

  • Set up Native Land as a community member — so we put the front page map back to Mapbox!
  • Got us involved in the Developer Network
  • Helped out with some credits for people who take our Udemy course
  • Were really nice and fun and got us excited about the future of our company!

I hope that we can angle our way into some kind of developer table at Locate — even just for 10 minutes — because I really want to show off the awesome things we’ve done with Mapbox. Like…

  • WP Mapbox GL JS (https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-mapbox-gl-js/)
  • Map Digitizer (https://mapster.me/map-digitizer)
  • The Udemy course
  • Native Land
  • A few of our fun projects in autonomous cars, historical mapping, and more

I think we’re helping to open up Mapbox to the whole world by creating interactive map editors like the WP Mapbox GL JS plugin. Mapbox does a great job for developers, and it’s time for that to get connected to non-technical users. We can, and are, working to make Mapbox available for the masses!

We’re also going to be at the Mapping & Social Impact Breakfast event with Marena Brinkhurst … so come get nerdy about maps and meaning-making with us!

Anyway, there’ll be a few of us at Locate: Developer Ruby Kulikowska, VP Biz Dev Duncan Kennedy, and me, Victor Temprano. Send us a note and let’s meet up and chat if you’re interested! Or, just let’s enjoy the conference and come away with some great new ideas for mapping!

Look forward to seeing you at Locate,

Victor Temprano
Founder, Mapster Tech

Courses & Help

It’s important to us that other people are empowered in making super awesome things online. We have made quite a few courses on a variety of subjects, ranging from ReactJS to mapping and more.

We also have made quite a few helpful products and modules, and we work at making sure these are up-to-date and open-source for the community and for whoever can benefit.

If you have any questions, want some clarification, or wish we had a particular course, just get in touch!


Courses

Interactive Mapping in Mapbox – this course covers everything you need to know about using Mapbox Studio and Mapbox GL JS. Learn about managing data, the strengths and weaknesses of Mapbox, styling maps, loading them online and more!

LeafletJS – this course takes you from start to finish with LeafletJS. You learn a lot of other information about mapping too, like about interface design, mobile considerations, and more. We also take you through some pretty cool extras like heatmaps and geolocation!

ReactJS – this course is designed to get you deep into ReactJS and ready to make apps. We use it internally at Mapster, especially to help devs familiar with React but needing some brushing up in Redux or other parts of their React repertoire.

Youtube Videos – you can find our YouTube channel here. We post tips for solving interactive map problems and brief tutorials. We’re always working on uploading new content, so hit the ‘Subscribe’ button to stay up-to-date!

Libraries

Mapbox GL Draw Rotate Mode

Plugins

WP React CRA Boilerplate Plugin 

Learn A Language Plugin 

WP Mapbox GL JS Plugin 

Mapping Resources

This post was born from the ashes of Mapzen — when they went down in early 2018, they put up a really useful post with some good mapping resources that made up for some things they have provided.

I’ve added some of my own picks here, and the list will constantly grow. Please inform us of any broken links and we will remove/replace ASAP.


Basemaps, Vector tile services

Mobile SDKs

Routing

Search & geocoding

Data

Editors, Linters, Converters

Guides

Information

Pros and cons of using Mapbox for your project

These days, there’s so many mapping platforms out there that it can be a real hassle deciding what to use. Between Google Maps APILeafletMapboxOpenStreetMaps, 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.

Read more >