Making Beautiful Maps

Time slot: 
March 9th, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Chicago 10

Web mapping is a substantial way for users to explore data on a site. More and more users are comfortable using a web mapping interface thanks to mostly the work of Google Maps. This means that you can have more confidence in your audience's ability to use a map to find relevant data.

"Google Maps are like stock photography". We are past the point of just embedding a Google Map into a site and putting a few red markers on it. We can do so much more that will ensure that your geographical visualizations do not create such a huge break from the design of your site.

There are a number of ways out of the box with modules, such as the Drupal Openlayers module, that will allow you to easily create a map that actually fits into your site. Then, by utilizing outside services like MapBox and Cloudmade, you have much more control over tile sets you use. And you can even take it further by looking into rendering your own tile sets and customizing the markers and graphics so you have the exact look you want for your site.

Ideas, inspirations, collaborations, and thoughts come in part from AndrewL's past presentations: Don't Let Maps Cramp Your Style.

Video at

Intended audience: 

The people that will get the most out of this session are people who are responsible for building the visual communication of a site. Making your maps look good can span from site building to theming to very technical tile rendering.

Questions answered by this session
Question 1: 
What are the current mapping technologies available in Drupal?
Question 2: 
What are the techniques available out of the box in Drupal for having beautiful maps?
Question 3: 
What simple steps can be taken to have good looking maps?
Question 4: 
How can you enhance your maps with advanced coding?
Question 5: 
What are some technologies on the horizon for making great looking maps?
Making Beautiful Maps has been selected and voting is closed.


Openlayers rocks!

I have been using the Openlayers module for several months now. It has great integration with views and has been a perfect solution for all of my mapping needs. Alan an Tom have both helped me out on IRC and I look forward to attending this session!

TileMill, Tilestream and Drupal

hi guys

TileMill and Tilestream are node.js products (which I understand is the new direction for Development Seed, away from Drupal)....


and Wax

How do you serve the TileMill output in Drupal ?

I assume that there is some hack or config for the OpenLayers or MapBox modules ?

thanks in advance


TileStream + OpenLayers layer

Nicholas, you'll have to use TileStream to host the MBTiles files that TileMill produces. Then you create an OpenLayers TMS layer to use a tileset in Drupal. Here is a quick skitch showing how to configure a TMS layer for a TileStream hosted tileset:

We will be putting out a how-to showing the process step by step following up DrupalCon.

Tilestream - TMS config

One thing from the skitch that wasn't obvious (until it burnt me - doh!) was that the URL for Tilestream has to be absolute if want other systems to view the map layers. So a http://localhost:9000 address will only render maps on the host machine; you should use on anything other than a single-use dev system.


Will your presentation/slides be available online?

on Github

You can download the presentation from GitHub:

It's HTML/CSS/JS. I'll put together a zip version of it for people that may not know how to use Git.

Thank you!

Great...thanks for the info!

Great presentation

I didn't attend the session in person (schedule conflict) but I just watched the video and wanted to compliment. This was a great presentation. Well paced and well informed. This is one of those sessions that could easily have filled 2hrs or more. Very interesting. Great content. Thank you!

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