5 Mapping Industry Trends I Saw At JS.Geo
by Brian Timoney
Wait long enough to blog a conference, and you’ll find others have beat you to it. Bill, Derek, and the folks at Cesium have done a great job with both talk-by-talk reviews as well as a few big picture reflections here, here, and here. In addition, we posted most of the talk decks/links here. As co-organizer of the event (along with Chris Helm), the weight of logistical concerns tends to crowd that mind. But all that being said, there were five themes I saw throughout the day that are worth sharing.
Mapping Platforms Are Ready For Big(ger) Data
Whether through GL libraries (CesiumJS, Mapzen Tangram), advanced techniques for handling heavy time-stamped data (CartoDB Torque), or the newest take on vector tiles (Mapbox, ESRI), the industry has the capabilities in place to display larger volumes of data in more interesting ways. We all like novel maps, but a truly useful future is probably a combination of Platform + Data + Visual Grammar that isn’t quite in place yet.
A benefit of putting on the 3rd iteration of JS.Geo is that you get to see the new “cool” stuff of past conferences become mainstream. Turf.js–think spatial analysis in the browser–popped up repeatedly in a wide range of demos. As a developer, there’s much to be said if you don’t need a server to calculate a buffer. But put your point-in-polygon logic in your phone browser that works disconnected from the Internet? Now we’re talking muddy-boots geography out in the field!
Node.js As Back-End Workhorse
Mappers Are Coming From Everywhere
We can debate all day the pros and cons of making maps without a traditional background in GIS and Cartography (that’s what Twitter is for, right?). But the fact is the field has never been more diverse with new mappers often going to school in the halls of Github and StackOverflow. I, for one, welcome the new state of affairs if only for the pleasure of regularly pointing out to these new carto-apprentices that ‘choropleth’ has only one “l”.
But would I have thought of wiring my map navigation to an arduino controller?
No, no I wouldn’t.
Everyone Is Hiring
We’ve been saying this for years, but it bears repeating: if your daily routine has you doing geospatial work strictly through GUI-driven desktop software, the impact on your future earnings is clear and unmistakable.
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Chris and I want to thank the 26 speakers who presented.
We especially want to thank our sponsors for making it financially viable.
If nothing else it enabled us to offer darn good sandwiches.
Oh, and thanks to the guy who picked up the tab at the after-gathering!
Brian Timoney is an information consultant in Denver, Colorado.