tecznotes

Michal Migurski's notebook, listening post, and soapbox. Subscribe to this blog. Check out the rest of my site as well.

Mar 11, 2009 6:59am

maps from scratch

Yesterday, Shawn and I led a three hour E-Tech workshop called Maps From Scratch. Our goal was to step attendees through the creation of beautiful online cartography, from vector data to rendered images. We introduced a variety of tools and concepts, like shapefiles, spatial databases, Mapnik, and TileCache. One of the things that made this tutorial especially interesting for us was our use of Amazon's EC2 service, the "Elastic Compute Cloud" that provides billed-by-the-hour virtual servers with speedy internet connections and a wide variety of operating system and configuration options. Each participant received a login to a freshly-made EC2 instance (a single server) with code and lesson data already in-place. We walked through the five stages of the tutorial with the group coding along and making their own maps, starting from incomplete initial files and progressing through added layers of complexity.

Probably the biggest hassle with open source geospatial software is getting the full stack installed and set up, so we've gone ahead and made the AMI (Amazon Machine Image, a template for a virtual server) available publicly for anyone to use, along with notes on the process we used to create it. The AMI number is ami-df22c5b6, and you can find additional information on the (presently) bare bones website, mapsfromscratch.com.

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