Where Ya Been?

It’s been rather quiet on the blog for a while. Sometimes the posts have to take a back seat to work and other things. This time of year tends to be busy anyway due to the end of the school year and its related activities, but this year has also included one move, construction of a house, and preparations for a second (final) move. In December we sold our house, which I had lived in for nearly 40 years, and moved into temporary quarters while the next house was being built. The sale of the old place was a pretty smooth experience as all of us, especially me, were ready for a change.

As a result, the experimentation and small projects which have driven the content of this blog since it started simply had to stop for a while. That’s not to say that there has been no activity. I have posted over the last few months related to some mapping work and the “software exhaust” that has resulted from it. It’s not really been possible, however, to sit down a create a well-structured discussion of those activies in the way that I would prefer, so I simply haven’t.

Because that work involved the use of MBTiles, it got me a little closer to some of the open-source tools produced by MapBox in a way that I haven’t really needed to before. In addition to MBUtil and TileMill, I’ve been able to use some of their Leaflet Javascript plug-ins for use in data visualiztion. My overall observation is that I’ve been very impressed with the quality of the tools they are putting out in terms of performance, stability, and elegance. It’s been a pleasant experience working with their tools and I’ve also learned a lot by digging into their source.

It reminds me a lot of the experience I had a few years ago working with the GeoIQ tool set. That tool set resonated with me for the same reasons that the MapBox tool set does now; I feel like the authors of the tools think about problems and approach them in a manner similar to the way I do. As a result, I find the tools comfortable and not something I feel like I am fighting with. I’m not certain that this psychological aspect of software is given much attention but software is really a representation of the author’s approach to problem-solving. For me, developing proficiency with a piece of software is establishing a connection with its author in a manner similar to that which is established with the author of a good book. It’s one of the reasons I consider releasing open-source code to be such a brave thing.

It’s my hope that I’ll find ways to keep working with the MapBox tool set more, but such considerations are always driven by project availability and customer demand. In the meantime, there’s a move to complete, a new house to settle into, and a summer to enjoy.