Book review: Web Mapping Illustrated <i>by Tyler Mitchell</i>

Book review: Web Mapping Illustrated by Tyler Mitchell


When I started Anansi Spaceworks in 2001, we were keen to create an interactive online browser for the planetary maps that we sold at that time, but didn’t know how to do it. With this book though, I’m tempted to try it again just for the fun of it! Whatever your interest in maps is, this book will help you out.

A straightforward introduction to creating interactive mapping sitesA straightforward introduction to creating interactive mapping sites

The book is also very beautiful. It’s one of the few O’Reilly publications with full-color illustrations, which really enhances the map visualizations used as examples throughout the book

The contents

The book’s style is essentially a walk-through of the process of creating a mapping site using the map server with a web server front end. There are some brief detours into alternate options, but the author chooses to keep things simple by focusing on his own particular choices of software, though he does mention the alternatives at each point. He uses MapServer for serving the map data, OpenEV for visualizing the data interactively and editing it, and a simple Apache setup for the web. There’s plenty of flexibility in the description, though, so you’ll likely have no trouble finding what you need for alternate choices as well.

Who’s this book for?

This book is for anyone who wants to put two-dimensional map data on the web, or even to use it on their local computer.

Relevance to free software

In all cases, the author focuses on the free software alternatives for each step. Although, he does sometimes mention the proprietary alternatives as well. Part of the motivation for this book, according to the author, is that a sufficiently robust free software tool chain now exists, and this has allowed web mapping to become accessible for amateur and non-profit use.

Pros

Very clear-cut and easy to follow. The book is also very beautiful. It’s one of the few O’Reilly publications with full-color illustrations, which really enhances the map visualizations used as examples throughout the book. It is full of the kind of details you actually need to know to get the software installed, but it also presents basic concepts so that you don’t get left in the dust if you’ve never studied map making before.

Cons

Because the author has chosen to work in depth with particular applications, he may overlook useful alternative configurations. The author shows you “one good way” to do the job and tells you briefly about other choices, but you’ll be on your own with configuring those other options if you need to use them.

Title Web Mapping Illustrated
Author Tyler Mitchell
Publisher O’Reilly
ISBN 0596008651
Year 2005
Pages 367
CD included No
FS Oriented 10/10
Over all score 10/10

In short

Category: 
License: 

Author information

Terry Hancock's picture

Biography

Terry Hancock is co-owner and technical officer of Anansi Spaceworks. Currently he is working on a free-culture animated series project about space development, called Lunatics as well helping out with the Morevna Project.