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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Update: GitHub Now Visualizes geoJSON (with MapBox and OpenStreetMap)

In just two weeks the GitHub folks have added more features to geoJSON visualization support, the most important of which for us non-programmers is the ability to embed the maps in Javascript supported HTML environments.

  • Want to make your geoJSON map available someplace other than GitHub? Simply modify this template, and place it in any HTML page that supports javascript, such as GitHub Pages, and you'll have a beautiful, portable map:
		<script src="<username>/<repo>/<ref>/<path_to_file>"></script>
  • GitHub now supports rendering TopoJSON, an extension of GeoJSON that encodes topology and can be up to 80% smaller than its GeoJSON equivalent.

  • Starting today, you don't have to rename geo files with a new extension. GitHub will now render GeoJSON (and TopoJSON) in all .geojson.topojson, and.json files.

  • Complex geographic datasets can often be difficult to visualize, especially if points are grouped close together. We now automatically cluster nearby markers, allowing us to better support larger datasets.

- GitHub Blog via @cageyjames


--- original post 6/17/13 ---

An e-mail from the folks at GitHub (though we'd already seen the buzz on Twitter) announces new mapping visualization on that platform. (Not sure what GitHub is? See Directions Magazine coverage.)

TL;DR: commit a .geojson file to a repository, and GitHub will render any points, lines, or polygons as an interactive map, complete with custom markers and tool tips. Plus, we're using MapBox under the hood, so every thing's OSM-backed.

So basically, if you put geodata in geoJSON form into your repository, it will be automagically rendered using Leaflet and MapBox Streets, which is built on OpenStreetMap. Here are some examples of how it looks on a few repository pages:
What's the big deal?
First off, this implementation secures the importance of geoJSON as an important format/encoding for geodata. The announcement sparked a bunch of discussion on Twitter about Esri's lack of support of geoJSON whch culminated wiht this tweet from Esri's Andrew Turner (@ajturner):

Esri is already working on GeoJSON support 

Second, and this is what I thought of when I saw an example, this is how should work. No muss, no fuss, no clicking a button to get a map of data. It "just works."
Finally, as Ben Balter, who sent the e-mail, notes:
[This gives the geospatial community] the ability to treat geodata as open source code and collaborate on and track the history of individual datasets...
- e-mail from GitHub
by Adena Schutzberg on 06/26 at 11:16 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

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