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Maps from Scratch: Online Maps from the Ground Up

City Tech, Computing, GeoLocation, Mobile and The Web
Location: Crystal Room Level: Intermediate
Average rating: ***..
(3.83, 6 ratings)

Stamen’s liminal position as a technology and design studio allows us to approach online map making from a unique perspective. We explore and create tools that afford new interactions with geographic and other data, for organizations such as SFMOMA, MSNBC, California Academy of Sciences,,,, and the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games.

This workshop will be an in-depth survey of the state of the art in interactive digital cartography.

We will cover techniques for design and deployment of tile-based image interfaces. We’ll look at pixel-based data sources, free vector data sources like OpenStreetMap, rendering tools such as Mapnik and GDAL, and client-side interaction libraries such as Modest Maps and OpenLayers.

We’ll look at underlying interface and display strategies for zooming, panning, continuous, infinite planes of visual information. We’ll also investigate applications of geographic tools to cultural and historical artifacts.

Photo of Michal Migurski

Michal Migurski

Stamen Design

Stamen partner Michal Migurski architects the technical aspects of Stamen’s work, moving comfortably from active participation in Stamen’s design process, designing database schemas and API’s, to creating the dynamic applications that Stamen delivers to clients.

Michal has been building for the web since 1995, specializing in data design and publishing for a diverse range of clients and numerous public, technical research projects and active open source codebases. He’s a Polish National and holds a degree in Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley. He maintains an active weblog at, and likes to talk in front of groups.

Photo of Shawn Allen

Shawn Allen

Stamen Design

Shawn is a designer, programmer, and partner at Stamen. A jack of all trades and master of many, he takes an active role in both the conceptual design and technical implementation of Stamen’s dynamic information visualization systems.

A Connecticut native, Shawn moved to San Francisco in 1999 to pursue a formal fine arts education. But the pull of a career in the frenzied dot-com era proved too strong, and in 2000 he began working alongside Michal Migurski at a short-lived start-up. After several tumultuous years in the web design business he changed gears and developed the user interface for a console-based edition of the “Sims” video game franchise at Maxis. Shawn began working with Stamen in 2005 and became our third partner in January 2006. In his free time he makes music, rides bikes, climbs rocks, and travels around the world.

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Picture of Cherie Ve Ard
Cherie Ve Ard
03/13/2009 8:44am PDT

Presentation had a lot of interesting concepts and had great potential. However, I found the hands-on section to be too focused on copying code (and coordinates) from the projector and not actually learning the potential of the available tools. Perhaps I’m just not enough of a Unix geek to have been able to grok it.

Picture of Chris Spurgeon
Chris Spurgeon
03/12/2009 7:46am PDT

This was GREAT. Exactly what I was hoping for…a clear demonstration of some of the tools available, and how to use them. Highly useful.

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