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Styled Maps Using Google Maps API Version 3 (41latitude.com)
149 points by ugh on Oct 8, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 25 comments

Those features are already available for a long time in the free software map clients (e.g. OpenLayers) using free map data (e.g. OpenStreetMap).

With OpenLayers, you can even customize the behavior of your map, because it is designed as a JS library rather than a proprietary web API. Also, the clean separation of presentation (map client) and data source (any map server speaking WMS/WFS/whatever) enables you to combine any map data from any sources. Thus, handy overlays are possible without relying on the mercy and the pre-defined possibilities of Google.

The biggest problem I have with OpenStreetMap is that it is ugly by default. I suppose you could make it perfect but you have to put a lot of work in. Google’s sensible defaults with sensible options get you up and running a lot quicker.

Say I want to create a fictional map for use with OpenLayers - what's the best way to go about this?

Any geographical information software (GIS) offer tools to create spatial data, from scratch or by copying / digitalizing sources.


Then you can style them, and design a map, using vector drawing software like Inkscape.

OpenLayers also provides editing capabilities. This is used for example in the OpenStreetMap project.

Note that his requires writing support (WFS-T or similar) on server side. However, the typical map servers such as GeoServer and Deegree all do support WFS-T.

Yes OpenLayers is the leading OS project for web maps, in my opinion. PostGIS/PostgreSQL DB backend is also used often to offer writing/modification, besides WFS-T. But to draw/digitize the spatial data, it could be more practical to use a desktop software, instead of a web app.

"Any use by you of any of the CloudMade Materials and CloudMade Site other than for your personal use is strictly prohibited."

Nice service, but given that HN is for startups (i.e. commercial entities) these terms make it kind of useless to most of us don't they?

Are you sure they are not referring to the already designed maps?

I mean it's based on OpenStreetMap.

Check out the actual site http://www.cloudmade.com/

Yes, i'm referring to their map service (the original article was in reference to google's map service). It looks that unlike google maps you can't use this commercially without paying for a service plan.

Yeah you have to pay for the service. That's how companies normally work.

It's not like these two services are 100% identical. Cloudmade have a bunch of nice tools to style the maps with.

Well, styled maps in the Google Maps API have actually been available since around May.

I'm not sure what you mean by your second point, the Maps API has very flexible overlay and projection capabilities.

This is awesome. Example 7 is going to be particularly useful for something I'm working on. Thanks for the post; I was actually looking at how to do this on my own, and now I don't have to. :)

I used http://maps.cloudmade.com/ for a mobile app did last year. It's a really great app for sketching and getting the overall look and feel right.

This is huge. With API V3 and its accompanying "Wizard", Google has essentially democratized cartographic design. It's never been this easy.

It's not cartographic design, it's styling (waaaay different).

This'll be news to a lot of people--esp. web designers.

Styling is encompassed under design (waaaay not different).

Yep, but not vice versa :)

If you understand what you're saying... well, that makes one of us.

Styling is part of design, but not a major part. Am i clear, now ?

These "splitting hairs" comments are lame and unnecessary.

Love the part with discouraged colouring - they actually remind me of the trippy part of 2001: A Space Odyssey where Dave goes through the monolith. How long until someone makes a completely crazy Maps mashup using exactly those colours?

This is an interesting change to the GMaps infrastructure. In the past, all map tiles were pre-rendered, but now it looks like they are being generated dynamically. Anyone got any inside info as to what lead to that change?

As far as I know, tiles have always been rendered on the fly.

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