A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to a Calendar

The call for maps for the 2017 GeoHipster calendar has closed and review is underway. I haven’t begun collating the responses yet, so I have no idea how it will turn out, but I can say that, for me, the process so far has been personally rewarding.


I was not involved in the making of the 2015 calendar. When it came time to considering doing one for 2016, I volunteered to coordinate¬†the process; with no idea what to expect. We had quite a response and I was impressed with the quality of the work received. Because it was my first time through, I was pretty consumed by the process and probably didn’t get to give as much consideration to the art that was before me.

Continue reading “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to a Calendar”

Bring Out Your Maps!

It’s time again to get into calendar-making mode. A new call for maps was issued over on GeoHipster for the 2017 calendar. We had a lot of fun last year seeing the creativity from the worldwide geospatial community and we are looking forward to this year’s batch of maps.¬†We also learned a lot from the process last year, so we’ve refined the guidelines.


This year, we’ve added a student track in which three months are reserved for the work of undergraduate students. It’s our way to support those who are just getting started. We hope it helps in some way.

One thing that jumped out at me last year was that the creativity in our community knows no bounds in terms of technology. Last year’s calendar featured maps made with a full range of proprietary and open-source geospatial tools, graphics software, and even cross-stitch (as in needle and thread).

So keep and eye out. We plan to, once again, have the calendar ready for holiday purchases. And bring out your maps!


GeoHipster Call for Maps

Earlier this year, I joined the newly-formed advisory board for the web site GeoHipster. The site, and specifically the Q&A interview format with people working throughout the geospatial industry, had rapidly developed an audience and the logistics had outpaced the ability of the site’s founder, Atanas Entchev, to keep up. So a group of us signed on to help out. As a result, many of us have contributed interviews and helped Atanas manage the direction of the site.

One thing that became clear to me even before joining the advisory board was that Atanas was taking a tongue-in-cheek approach to the “hipster” label. He was simply having fun with a prevailing cultural meme. The content of the site, however, belied a desire to celebrate the work being done throughout the industry. I admired that interviewees often had clearly strong opinions on issues and that Atanas, while staking no specific positions for the site itself, did not attempt to buff away the hard edges of these opinions. I have found the site’s content refreshingly honest and often fun, which is why I wanted to get involved.

Last year, GeoHipster introduced a number of mechanisms to help defray the costs of running the site. These included sponsorship (Thanks, Mapbox!), patronage, and the sale of merchandise such as calendars and t-shirts. The calendar was a particularly fun showcase of the artistry of the geospatial industry and GeoHipster is reprising it for 2016.

Last week, the site published a call for maps for the 2016 GeoHipster calendar. We’ve already seen a great response and are looking forward to more. There is a lot of imagination in our industry and the maps we’ve seen so far reflect that. The calendar is a great way to showcase your art so I encourage anyone to send a submission. The advisory board would like nothing more than for the job of selecting 13 maps to be as difficult as possible.

The sales of the calendars help keep the site running. GeoHipster is not a nonprofit but it is certainly not profitable. The costs of operating the site include obvious things such as hosting and design work but also include the costs of sending a free t-shirt to each interviewee and the distribution of the stickers that have become a fixture on geospatial laptops across the world. So your maps will help keep a good thing going. If you’ve enjoyed reading GeoHipster this year, and you feel you have strong cartographic skills, I encourage you to submit a map.

Cutting Tiles for ArcGIS Server Using TileMill

There’s been a lot of talk about TileMill and CartoCSS lately, with good cause. TileMill makes it very easy generate beautiful map tiles using the Mapnik engine and CartoCSS provides a familiar method to author the cartographic representation of spatial data. As Brian Timoney points out, CartoCSS has the added bonus of making best practices shareable via copy-and-paste.

Naturally, the best way to take advantage of TileMill is to export your tiles to MBTiles and use MapBox hosting. If that’s not an option, you can pretty easily self-host with TileStream. That said, there are some organizations that, due to larger GIS workflows, IT policies, and a host of other legitimate reasons, need or choose to use ArcGIS Server to do map hosting. For those organizations, TileMill is still an option to create attractive basemaps, within certain constraints.

So I set out to see if I could bridge the gap between the two. Two blog posts pointed the way. A while back, Dan Dye blogged about how he had forked mb-util and added support for exporting WeoGeo tilepacks from MBTiles. Also, a co-worker of mine, Eric Mahaffey, had blogged some time ago about how to use Arc2Earth to manage tile caches across air-gapped networks. Using these posts for guidance, I was pretty sure I had all the pieces I needed. Continue reading “Cutting Tiles for ArcGIS Server Using TileMill”