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Felt (felt.com)
1382 points by bookofjoe 34 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 166 comments

The landing page has over a dozen demos and renders using OpenStreetMap data, but I see not a single attribution statement anywhere until I open an interactive map.

Even renders and pictures require attribution.

It looks like Felt uses Mapbox under the hood. Which might also require attribution.

So if a journalist makes a screenshot of a website that uses Felt, they would have to have a text like ...

"Image courtesy of SomeSite with an image courtesy of Felt with an image courtesy of Mapbox with an image courtesy of OpenStreetMap?"

.... under the image?

OSM’s attribution is non-negotiable. It’s part of the Open Database Licence and also the Contributor Terms under which individual mappers agree that the OSM Foundation can sublicense their work. There is no legal way around it save for contacting each individual mapper for permission… which is clearly impractical.

By contrast, Mapbox ask for a credit as part of a commercial agreement, which by definition can be negotiated away. I guarantee if you call up Mapbox and offer them enough money, they’ll flex on their logo requirement. There is simply no legal way to do that with OSM.

Of course, you can simply have a lot of money, and the OSMF would go bankrupt before you in any legal challenge.

OSMF is a British foundation, so this American assumption doesn't necessarily apply.

I’m fairly certain it would still be extremely impractical for them to sue everyone that violates their license.

There’s also little benefit to them, which makes it even more pointless.

Is that really the way it is? No way for law to prevail, the one with more money always wins? What about individuals (!) winning cases against huge corporations, which comes up in the news periodically?

It comes up in the news precisely because it's such an unusual occurrence. Lawfare by attrition is an extremely common tactic. Having more resources than your opponent can massively tilt the scales in your favor.

Did you watch the "Bananas!" documentary, and its documentary aftermath documentary "Big boys gone bananas!" ?

It's real good, and a good example of big corporations sometimes backing off, however unwillingly.

The most money winning (and using lawsuits to stifle criticism) is very much a part of how society works these days (and arguably always has). See, for example, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_lawsuit_against_publ...

Money might not buy happiness but it buys an awful lot of power.

SLAPPs are bad, but Google any company + settled or lost lawsuits. For example, here're some I could find on McDonalds:




The oldest of these is from end of last year.

Edit: tone down phrasing

> Of course, you can simply have a lot of money

Instructions unclear, I'm broke.

Mapbox is known to discard the necessary attribution to OSM. The guidelines for OSM are clear: https://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright

When I open the link at the top on my desktop, I see "© Mapbox © OpenStreetMap Improve this map" in the lower-right corner.

As the github link says,

> It has no real attribution when opened on a mobile or when browser window is resized to a smaller one.

It's a while since I've used Mapbox but they were very strict and diligent about including OSM attribution back when I was building apps with it (2018). Have they really changed that drastically?

I mean... yes. There's plenty of bad unattributed journalism out there that don't do this of course, but... attribution has been a standard of good journalism for many years before the internet existed. This is not some new obscure requirement.

That is of course more about journalistic standards and good practice. In terms of the law, IANAL but I don't think attribution is strictly required for Fair Use usage (e.g. reportage). Only for functional usage (e.g. providing maps to be used as maps).

Agree, but an interesting point being made here is that as we continue to add more layers of separately-attributable infrastructure the attributions get quite unwieldy.

I don't have a conclusion from this, and if you're going to use something that requires attribution you should attribute. Maybe we just need better ways of giving that attribution. It's certainly easier in an interactive medium, with hyperlinks and collapsable sections than on paper.

Well, even in hypotheticals, I'm not sure how many cases are likely to go beyond 3 layers. And that's just for journalism.

For practical functional applications, 3 layers seems high, and potentially a sign of over-engineering.

To get a little more technical about our hypothetical:

- I've used Mapbox in the past, and they included (at the time) a succint dual-attribution overlay for themselves and OSM as part of their APIs. It was well-designed and baked in (nothing for me to do).

- If I were to then take my own application and offer it as a service for others to embed:

1. There's a strong likelihood I'm offering a commercial service so attribution may not be required for my layer (provided service-charges covering white-labelling)

2. If I am requiring attribution, it might make sense for me to invest in direct OSM usage & cut out the Mapbox middleman.

3. If not, it certainly seems like my added layer would be the absolute extreme (and baking in a well-made 3-component attribution would be challenging but not insurmountable).

Well, they don't need to word it quite as ridiculously, and it depends whether SomeSite and Felt require attribution.

From the Felt Terms of Service:

>Other than Your Content (as defined below), all Content displayed on the site or accessible through the Services, including text, images, maps, software or source code, are the property of Felt and/or third parties and are protected by United States and international intellectual property laws. Logos and product names appearing on or in connection with the Services are proprietary to Felt or our licensors. You may not remove any proprietary notices or product identification labels from the Services.

Small print about small print.

OSM: "Felt? Cute. Might delete later."

Not sure about the demos but at least when you signup they show you a tutorial map and both Mapbox and OSM are visible on the bottom left

I am excited about Felt. (And whoever comes around to compete.)

That's mostly because I think (as they also must) that "making maps" is something that everyone does (in our heads; verbally; on the back of scrap paper; on random car-floor cardboard tacked to trailhead signs) but that few easily-accessible software tools have ever tried to facilitate digitally.

I'm interested mostly in the user-experience they've created to add our "human effects" to an "existing" map (like notes, relevant points, lines, directions). I really am drawn to it.

They're putting a lot of energy into the data-layer side of things, which I think is admirable considering the complexity, and seem to be nailing it. I'm not sure how folks will use those things, since I don't think our mental maps often require additional data.

I'll also add that their curated set of example uses is an excellent model for how to show people how to use a product that they might otherwise have no idea what to do with.

I've always been well served by screenshoting google maps and scribbling on it in WhatsApp before I send it to someone

Even in an office environment I think they're biggest competitor is going to be MSPaint(3D)

The evacuation plans in my (1000+ employee) company are still just building control plans that have been printed out on A3 and marked with a sharpie.

I am excited to share a map with my group of friends going skiing next winter. I used to create a Notion doc with manually annotated screenshots from google maps, much like you. But this feels way better.

As for me, it's not enough.

Qgis is a bare minimum to make a decent map.

Making maps is something everyone does and existing map software is really targeted to professionals. Even if you figure out how to make a map with the GIS desktop software (QGIS or ESRI), taking the maps you made and putting them online is another huge hurdle that requires a separate skillset.

I think Felt is taking the winning approach - to enlarge the market by making map making possible for everyone and making it be online-first.

I've been playing with https://clockworkmicro.com/ to make layers in my spatial database viewable by others, but it requires some GIS knowledge and familiarity with databases (unlike Felt).

definitely agree to this. And one segment that they could (should) definitely get customers are those who use ArcGIS. As someone who previously worked in oil & gas, the tax that these companies pay to Arc for all their mapping data is just crazy. I've always wondered why there isn't a solid tech company that could build a product that could take over Arc's business. Looking forward to Felt!

> I've always wondered why there isn't a solid tech company that could build a product that could take over Arc's business

A few reasons:

1.) many geotech companies require on premise installations because they want control of their data and/or the internet quality at remote sites is poor. This means that a SaaS solution is a non-starter.

2.) Most geotechs are already familiar with Arc tools due to Arc’s aggressive marketing to universities

3.) Arc is a swiss army knife which can do most things “good enough”. For most businesses Arc can do what they want out of the box. Products like felt only have 1/10th or less of the functionality as Arc.

We are in the process of replacing Arc with our own custom platform at my company. If you are a heavy user of Arc you quickly outgrow the capabilities of the system. We want to serve petabytes of geotechnical data, and Arc quickly starts to choke on data sizes that large. The operational work of keeping Arc up and running smoothly is also a major headache since you don’t have access to the source code and the error messages in Arc are very poor which means you rely on ESRI support a lot.

> I've always wondered why there isn't a solid tech company that could build a product that could take over Arc's business.

A "friendly relationship" of customers with salespeople, perhaps. And familiarity with software that's used in GIS courses at universities.

Esri has been around for a long time, it’s basically MS Excel for anybody who has to make maps for work.

Their pro software and online services have kept up with the times, you can do almost anything in the program as well. And there’s multiple ways to do each thing. It also has its own internal logic that people get used to like photoshop.

I believe it’s a private company too which means they aren’t always pleasing shareholders

https://www.ScribbleMaps.com has been around for 13 years and let's you create maps without an account. I guess there is something to be said for branding.

I feel like this product wouldn’t have much of a market if people didnt forget about desktop google earth.

What nonsense! Gave up after reading this.

""" Where typical internet maps take 30+ seconds to load after each pan and zoom """

What typical maps are the talking about?

ironically, performance is terrible with most of their demos, and I'm using chrome on a decently powerful desktop.


After a bit of an inspection, it looks like they segment the viewport into multiple canvas elements. I don't think repositioning loads of canvas elements by translating the parent div in CSS is the most performant approach, but I may be wrong.

It would likely be more performant if the map view was a single canvas and panning, segmentation and so on was done in a buffer and rendered to the canvas by blitting the pre-rendered sections, or something along those lines. Maybe even rendering the sections to WebGL textures and using a WebGL context for the canvas.

You're right that using canvas/WebGL will be much faster. It seems the embeddable Google Maps JS library recently moved in this direction, though it appears they kept the layers of stacked divs (almost certainly for backwards compatibility with existing users who have HTML layers that need to be kept in sync.)

But something fun to notice with Felt is that the rendering library (LeafletJS) is using transform3d to do 2d translations (instead of just using translate), so you may wonder "why?" At least in Chrome (and it seems in Safari) if you use transform3d the browser is more likely to keep the div in its own layer. This will reduce a lot of the paint/compositing time, and make the frame rate dramatically better. Of course in this case the micro-optimizations are irrelevant in comparison to Felt's JS performance problems (which on my machine appears to be due to projecting 2000 points from lat/lng space to pixel space every frame.) Choosing to project points every frame is super confusing because the whole point of the translate/transform3d optimization is to avoid having to recalculate pixel space during the latency-sensitive pan interaction. Odd.

This guy codes! No seriously, this is great feedback for the devs.

Wow the performance on that is absolutely terrible. I'm on a gaming PC and it bogged me down so hard the tab started freezing up.

Yeah, it's borderline unusable for me too, but it is a beta so I'll reserve judgement.

Same. Could it be HN overwhelming their servers rather than the tool itself?

there's no way they've implemented each pan, move and zoom to require a server roundtrip. Their client side is not performant.

Thanks for the clarification.

same here on an m1 macbook pro

i7-9700k @ 4.9 GHz, RTX 2070 here, no other tabs open, absolutely unusable still. Firefox Nightly with hardware acceleration. Yikes.

Performance is so bad, the page crashes regularly and repeatedly on my iPhone 13 pro. It‘s unusable.


I just loaded this big map on a pixel 4a and while it was laggy, it still responded and didn't crash

It seems like they don't support Safari or anything other than Chrome (and all browsers on iOS are technically Safari)

I tried it in Safari on my i9 late-2019 MBP and (after dismissing the warning message) I was barely able to move around.

This is... unusable, on a decent Macbook Pro using Chrome.

after the initial load and warning to switch to chrome, it's running pretty smooth in safari on a m1 macbook air

On my MBP w/M1 Pro, it's terribly unresponsive trying to zoom.

I was exactly the same. As soon as I read that hyperbole I immediately closed the page. You’re either dishonest or perform terrible tests which means I’m not going to trust much else of what you write on your landing page.

Using Firefox their maps are taking a long time to load after each pan and zoom. lol.

they meant they take 30 seconds whereas competitors take 300ms. just a little slip up

Maybe they started this project in the late 90s with the goal to unseat Mapquest.

A bit sad as the thing that made me decide to not even try their app (which looked cool!) was the abysmal performance (in FF).

Given the context, "Never wait for a dataset to load again. Where typical internet maps take 30+ seconds to load after each pan and zoom, ...", it seems to be specifically talking about loading and rendering new bits of data taking 30+ seconds when you pan and zoom, not just panning and zooming the map itself.

Yeah, it was really hard to take it seriously after reading that.

I checked out the user supplied examples.

On the Appalachian Trail map the Title of the Legend is "Bathymetry". Something tells me that is not right. Global warming must be a bigger problem for the east coast than I had been misled to expect.

The map of community solar proposals also has a problem in the legend. All the line sizes for the transmission capacity players are identical in the legend even though they are graduated sizes on the map.

In addition, there actually end up being two map legends as you can see in the Appalachian Trip planner. The first one is tied to the base map and the symbology fits for the base map. You need to zoom in to see any Campground or Trailhead points since they are features common to the National Parks along the route. The second one is the user added note with Planned Stops and Estimated Date.

Points associated with the second legend (or note or whatever) are all you see at the initial scale. This might be confusing for some users who would expect all map layers to belong to one legend so this should be clarified.

With these in mind, it would pay off for them to examine their Legend tools so that they can become legendarily good because right now they serve as a perfect example of how not to do a map legend. They are supposed to convey useful information that aids visual interpretation of map features and layers.

I think Bathymetry is one of the layers on the map, which provides "topographical" lines in the ocean.

I agree that the layer list used to compose the map ought to be separate from the map legend.

Surprised that no one has mentioned Placemark [0] yet. It's the other brand new collaborative online mapping thingy, but made by a single dev and more focused on data than cartography/print.

[0] https://www.placemark.io/


Why are maps so hard to make? - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=31587950 - June 2022 (96 comments)

Why can't I just draw on maps without an account? Chalk one up for the bounce rate.

I'm sure they're well aware. The SaaS community decided that it's better to use it as a carrot to sign up for the app. Even repl.it doesn't let you play around without signing up anymore. https://replit.com/talk/ask/Is-it-now-required-sign-up-to-cr... And they could use that as an excuse to do cool stuff with WebAssembly.

I think they may have reversed this decision. I just went to replit.com, scrolled to the bottom, clicked c++ and arrived at https://replit.com/languages/cpp After that I could just hit Run and it worked. The "Sign up for the full experience" button shook a bit to draw attention to itself, but otherwise no sign up was required to use it.

I didn't try clicking there! It used to be easier to find.

To be honest, they're probably right. Anyone doing mapping for professional reasons is going to spend more effort testing this out because of the potential upside.

Nobody just clicking around is likely to buy a sub just for kicks.

If they're not going to buy a sub either way, what's the downside of letting them test it, and then perhaps telling their friends about it?

If you are using a provider like Mapbox to render the tiles you are going to pay by requests / tiles / resources used so having low-intent drive-by traffic is not going to help you.

Especially at the beginning when you are still refining your product / figure out a business model. Maybe further down the line they have a freemium version but it's probably not what you should start with if you are aiming for paying customers giving feedback.

Server cost. Fraud. Indistinguishable user sessions.

Always nice to see a newcomer tilting at the b2b status quo. How big is the b2b GIS market and what’s the sort of volume and median deal size? I’m completely guessing here but the big players must be:

Government? No thanks! Disrupting government contracts must be the last thing on the list of things to conquer. You’ll win the prize eventually but they are the end game big boss that you get just after you get your SOC2 etc.

Mining? Landing a big mining or mineral extraction contract seems like it could be a huge deal. There’s a lot of money in that industry (eg mining, ahem, oil) so I suspect they have their own in house cartogeniuses. Selling mapping software to mining corporations would be a bit like selling docker consulting to Google, I’m guessing.

Agriculture? Small to medium ag would be a nice market to go after. Maybe even target one of the other ag b2bs rather than selling to ag directly. Exit via John Deere acquihire!

Ecology? Academia? If Elsevier are anything to go by then there’s a fair bit of cash there to be spent on institutional software. Maybe you can do a deal with a whole University to provide felt licenses to all staff and students?

On that last point, remember how Facebook started out by targeting college kids? Is there a business pattern for pushing gratis software tools to undergrads so that they then preach them to their new bosses as new hires once they graduate? It sounds so obvious but are there good examples of it other than school kids learning MS Office? “Hey I loved using Felt for my undergrad dissertation — let’s use it here, at my new mining job?!”

Good luck, Felt!

I don't know how big the market is but there is at least one multibillion dollar company (ESRI) in the space. I think they have products targeted at most major industries. The US has at least two government agencies that are heavily involved in satellite imagery and they must contract out a lot of that work. I think it is getting easier to enter into the government contracting space. Anduril shows that you can get VC backing and scale fast if you have the right product.

> I think it is getting easier to enter into the government contracting space.

Hahahaha no.

I mean, I personally know people who have done it at the SBIR level and there is definitely more VC interest recently than say 10 years ago.

> Government? No thanks! Disrupting government contracts must be the last thing

Been there, done that. We have developed a similar product for WHO and ILO in Geneva: interactive maps with their data (tons of it). Put my own money into development based on their enthusiastic feedback among heads of departments.

Well, enthusiastic feedback is all we've got. Two years is not enough to run the contract by legal and financial depts and nowhere even close to get any - any - signed paper.

Energy (namely Oil and Gas production) contracts are huge in B2B GIS and offer the growth opportunities that execs love, but in my own opinion the most consistently profitable sector and also the one ripest for disruption is local and state governments in the USA.

Imagine being a cash strapped county and paying 6 figures for a software license to a REST API and then having to become a tiny dev shop just to start delivering your generic pothole reporting app to web users.

> Is there a business pattern for pushing gratis software tools to undergrads so that they then preach them to their new bosses as new hires once they graduate?

A generation of CS students learned to program in Java on Solaris machines subsidized by Sun.

> Where typical internet maps take 30+ seconds to load after each pan and zoom, Felt loads in under 300ms.

What typical internet maps are they using?

$20m in funding means they have a serious business case - it sounds like to take down ESRI and the rest of GIS?

Does anyone on the team watch HN? Mind chipping in a thought?

Esri have a serious moat. Their projection engine in particular is nigh on unapproachable in its capabilities. (Oracle tried for several years to build a competitor; they finally gave up and licensed Esri's PE).

Esri also have a vast array of products for many niche industries.

This product is cool, and I'm sure Felt have given careful consideration to how they plan to strategically differentiate from both Esri and open source solutions.

Most of Esri's core C/C++ tech is fairly beastly. Especially the PE and geoprocessing bits. Spent a lot of time in the Esri space with enterprise customers, worked for a deeply integrated platinum partner, spent time on the campus, blahblah.

Beating Esri is a lofty goal. Aside from the aforementioned core tech, they are extremely entrenched and scaled in basically all horizontals, and have verticals for each, plus a big partner network.

I think that in order to "beat" Esri, you'd have to beat them in all these different spaces, horizontally and vertically. There is some low hanging fruit there technically, IMHO, but the picture bigger is that it's going to take a ton of sales people over many years to actually disrupt.

I think a long-term technical strategy for a scrappy startup to be looked at as an "Esri-beater" would be to start with ArcGIS Online and build inroads from there. There are weak points there in the business response to the licensing evolution, the tech, and the UX/DX.

Just my 2c.

Yep. I worked for Esri for 17 years. The lead PE dev is a math/geography double major (master's in one, Ph.D. in the other, I think?) and a great C/C++ developer to boot.

I used to walk by his office and find large integrals on his whiteboard, or see him working on his latest project with Mathematica and his code editor.

Wow. 17 years is a long time. I would love to hear about your experiences some day.

Esri is an interesting company to me. Always been slightly fascinated by it. One of the older software companies and still privately owned. I spent a good chunk of my early career both aligning and competing with it.

My colleague and I ran into Jack once. Two random nobodies, visiting campus for obscure reasons, running into the main building to escape the random rain storm, and he opens the door to let us in.

Knew exactly why we were there, and asked us what we thought of AWAB before stating something to the effect of: "I don't know what we've been doing all these years. People don't want to buy our stuff and then have to learn to write code, they just want to make maps."

I'm convinced that's the key to the next world-eating web mapping company: stop forcing non-technical orgs to have to become technical orgs with technical staff just to solve simple spatial problems. It's orthogonal to their competencies and primary directives.

Easier said than done of course.

P.s. I know (of) who you are referring to btw, and he's somewhat of a legend, even outside Redlands.

For anyone interested, here's the sort of work Esri's PE team do on a regular basis: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/756bcae18d304a1eac140f1...

> ArcGIS Online ... weak points there

Phew is that a bit of an understatement. Where I work would love a proper competitor to it, so I definitely agree with your assessment as to the approach. Would be amazing to see Felt (or someone) tackle it.

> This product is cool, and I'm sure Felt have given careful consideration to how they plan to strategically differentiate from both Esri and open source solutions.

Datawrapper has done a nice job. This feels like that to me. Annotated maps, otherwise it’s easy enough to use mapbox or osm yourself to tell your own story.

Esri is mostly an entrenched monopoly. This just recently became parity with them,but if you're looking for gis development 75% are esri tech stacks.

Their CEO (username: hinting) commented on this post about Felt recently: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=31587950

There's probably a use case / audience for this, but it's a child's toy compared to stuff like ArcGIS. This is not taking on ESRI at all.

$20m is also not that much, mapbox raised 10x that amount and still struggles to find customers.

I'd imagine the audiences are quite different in their needs. We focus on the real estate of data centers and I think see multiple angles.

We have sales people and analysts that just need to make a basic map, call out some data points, and make it look good. Feels like Felt is a great tool for that.

We have larger needs where we need to do more complex analysis and visualize the relationships of larger data sets geographically - that's what we're looking to ArcGIS for.

It's been a bit of a search to find an affordable tool for the first use case and am glad to see someone in the space doing it.

I think that's spot on.

Curious, is there anything else about your needs pushing you towards ArcGIS rather than, say, QGIS?

Could it be a case of not taking on ESRI at the high end, but instead going for the low end that likely has a lot more potential customers?

Wow, didn't know you could raise that much with what seems to be Mapbox + a custom raster layer (i.e. a literal afternoon project).

Wish you the best guys, this industry needs a lot of innovation.

"How long will it take you to implement this feature?" "Should just be an afternoon!" "It's been 6 months, are you done yet?" "There were some unforeseen challenges that I didn't expect but I should have it done by tomorrow!" repeat...

Every time you label someones project a "literal afternoon project" it's probably better to just reconsider and not do it.

Especially if it's a company with multiple employees that probably don't sit around and do nothing all day.

Getting Dropbox vibes from this one

I am really excited about this. I wanted to share a rather complicated walking route around a campus, and it was far from a rectangular grid. Just created the route and shared it with my friend. It's rather a shame that Google maps or other maps like mapquest do not have an option of sharing a "custom route" rather than a location. I hope Felt catches on and succeeds.

You can import GPX files into Google Maps and save them as a custom map actually. I do it for my hikes.

Google Earth can do that

For an upcoming trip to NYC, I was trying to map some NYC walks and highlights using Google Maps, but I stumbled into a lot of limitations (limit on number of layers, limits of number of legs of an itinerary, ect.).

I was able to import all my existing NYC geo-points into Felt and quickly chart some itineraries from different sources. Way, way faster than Google Map.

Let's see how fast it will render once I'm on the ground in the city with mobile interent.

One major difference with Google Map is the lack of custom layers, but so far it hasn't been a problem.

This is my NYC 2022 trip map :) https://felt.com/map/New-York-2022-u7J1aE2ZSLOmdwCP4WGCOA

Very nice map!

What seems to be missing from Felt is some interactivity to make this map useful. I can’t tap on a route to see it’s length it get it to open in google maps for routing. I can’t tap on a pin to get its address or get directions to it.

It’s just a zoom able picture, which isn’t a big payoff for all the effort needed to build the map.

The link does load for me :(

I'm can't find any import function? (maybe I need the phone-app?)

It looks really nice, but I think the lack of custom layers makes it quite - well - lacking.

A simple feature which allowed to add an arbitrary OSM POI category as a layer (and selectively remove individual POIs) would've been very useful.

Try out google earth desktop instead of google maps. Its much more powerful software

This looks promising. I hope they add some way to measure distances.

What I'm currently wanting to do is draw a circle that's e.g. 100 meters around a given latitude and longitude. Google maps doesn't let you do this. I could do it with Leaflet, but that would involve setting up a whole js app for something that is basically just a back of the envelope calculation. I have access to ArcGIS which I'm sure can do it, I guess I'll have to learn how to use it.

Funny thing is, it's not exactly a back of the envelope calc, as technically speaking it depends on your requirements on accuracy (or rather, your tolerance for different flavours of distortion), the projection you wish to draw in, the projection the measurement is done in, and what tradeoffs you are willing to make on circumference/shape/area.

Also factors: where you draw the circle, because this matters depending on your choices of projections.

ArcGIS or GDAL or whatever can do the math for you, but there's still domain knowledge and careful tradeoffs involved in representing anything spatial and meeting actual IRL need. It's all relative (and a bit of a goddamned nightmare)

(src: I used to build spatial tools on ArcGIS)

It's coming soon!

I use Free Map Tools for things like this. It's a bit rough around the edges, but does the trick.


You can do that in Caltopo. They have a lot of really handy mapmaking features (like viewsheds and their “measure distance” tool that can snap to roads and trails), though their UI leaves a lot to be desired.

You can do this quite easily using the ST_Buffer function in PostGIS.

Looks pretty cool.

I will probably not use it, but might be interested, if it had an API. From my [admittedly, cursory] examination, it does not appear to have an API.

I assume it uses OSM data? But maybe not, as I don't see any attributions on the maps.

Personally, I am a "cartophile." I love maps, and really enjoy using them.

I found a "© Mapbox, © OpenStreetMap contributors" in the bottom left when I clicked on an example (https://felt.com/map/Community-Solar-Draft-Proposal-U8dl9A6Z...)

As an OpenStreetMap contributor I'm extremely grateful they are correctly attributing OSM (by the sounds of it).

There are plenty [1] of sites & apps (some quite large) that don't correctly attribute OSM data according to the legal requirements [2].

[1]: https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Lacking_proper_attributi... [2]: https://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright

That makes sense.

I have heard some folks throw shade on MapBox, but it appears to be a pretty good system, from what I have seen.

I've been working on a _sort of_ competing product for about a year, Radar Chat. We just announced the API a few days ago: https://docs.radar.chat

There's some overlap in features but certainly Radar Chat doesn't have any of the drawing functionality.

I like your API support!

The Postman collection thing is something I've been seeing, recently. Great idea.

I’m signing up to try it now… I find this exciting as I struggle sometimes to make Google maps or similar spit out maps how I want it to. (Basically picking address along the exact route I want a map of…).

I also have had to make maps to print out for events… this may fit the use case there perfectly.

the demand for printing has been surprising and it's coming ~~ soon ~~

Maybe I’m just old school[0] but I would think printing would be one of the first use cases to implement.

[0] give me a map, compass and tell me where I am and I’ll get to wherever I need to be day or night over any terrain—desert, jungle, woodlands, been there, done that.

My life would be a lot cooler if I had a lot of need for this but I can see clearly the needs I could have and appreciate this looks incredibly useful.

> We deal with data so you don’t have to.

I can’t find it now, but a while ago there was a post about map/data startups that basically boiled down to: Don’t.

The argument went like this:

People who want geospatial visualisations almost always want something custom.

Companies selling geospatial products believe that they can churn the data into “data layers” that serve “use cases” that mostly address this.

It’s always more work to work with a company to get the last mile of the custom use case… than it would have been to just do it yourself.

There aren’t that many paying customers.

I don’t know how true that is in reality, and the article was more nuanced than my dumb summary, but… really? A subscription product to annotate maps, which has built in “data layers” so “you don’t have to”?

Sounds very familiar.

You're right in a narrow sense but wrong in a broad one.

"It’s always more work to work with a company to get the last mile of the custom use case… than it would have been to just do it yourself."

This is true if all you need is a out of the box basemap with "data layers"

Many companies need to process data in real time or at least nightly to get it into a format that has all the information they need usually cross referenced and enhanced with multiple related data sources. These can be related via a primary key and simple or related via a simple or complex spatial relationship or spatial plus primary key relationships. This will require custom ETL pipelines that a utility company, for instance, doesn't have the in house expertise to create and maintain.

This also assumes you have the supporting elements already in place. Utilities often need to host data themselves for security or legacy reasons so they can't just use a cloud service. There are usually tools built on top of the data that need to be updated. A new geospatial system usually involves a lot more than just a new data layer. If that's all you need, then maybe these companies like felt are a good solution.

These are all interesting and well informed comments but am I wrong in thinking they seem to be unrelated to the Felt product?

Felt seems to be primarily a visual map annotation tool ala building visualizations. I doubt the data part would need to be that complex and custom. It could be a generic 'view' layer providing just the top layer and leave the data sources wide open and flexible but for the current offering it makes sense it's building off a 'library' of sources.

Although every B2B product will have customers who demand startups be their personal software consultants. That doesn't always translate into a repeatable product.

I build a product in this space and our traction is pretty good because we capture the data as well & follow customers with lots of infrastructure way down that very long last mile. We put in as much work into a handful of last mile solutions (that do scale quite well) as we do to our generic more generic Felt like base layer - admittedly Felt is much more polished than ours, but yeah we don't have a lot of traction on that self-service lightweight easy to use online GIS model.


In my own experience, either the product needed very little map features, and it didn't warrant paying in full just for that (I remember even live Google Maps integration being dismissed as "too costly" and moving to pre-rendered optimized maps).

Either we needed a lot more maps, and having full access to the underlying data made more sense to limit computational overhead and better adapt to our use case.

Basically map/location related features are hard and often costly, I expect companies to either avoid them completely or bite the bullet and go full in.

b2c maps is probably one of the worst niches out there, so much tiling so little $

I am always intrigued on how to 'start-up' companies come up with a UI/look/feel of a website. I am talking about beyond the traditional color palette wheel. Spinning up a regular run off the mill website get you the experience of Wordpress/Webflow/Wix site.

The font, the color, the animation, the bar going across the top, who comes up with this?

Second time founders. They already have an idea of design components like fonts, color palette, sizing and margin, nav, borders and JavaScript components like faq dropdowns, routing, etc.

Is there a need for clean custom components for app design development?

The CEO of Felt (hinting) formerly co-founded Remix, which is another heavy design-focused company.

Also, check out the Twitter of Felt's lead designer for some of their process: https://twitter.com/lorenbaxter

IMO it’s a cross between the personal tastes of the creators and the emotional story they’re trying to convey. The aesthetic here, looking on mobile, seems to be trying to evoke memories of vacations, a sense of adventure, perhaps the mystique of being a cartographer.

"Try Felt free" -> loginwall

I think this flow could be improved, perhaps with a demo account or such.

The videos make it pretty clear also, however.

Did you get this from Dense Discovery? I just saw this in the newsletter at the same time.

Yes, I did.

Looks promising - but performance on some of the demo maps was not good.

Having said that, performance when creating my own map was fine. It's not a perfect fit for me, and I'll still be using mapbox for now. But I'll follow the progress of this for sure.

I'd like to be able to embed on my own site(s) without using an iframe. And I would love to be able to use images (like the animals around the world example) as a clickable map marker + popup that scales properly with zooming.

Very neat tool, as a little bit of a map nerd I could waste a ton of time fiddling with this.

My first thought though when I saw this link was "Damn that's a valuable domain name". According to a couple of sources it's worth somewhere in the ballpark of $15-25k!

I doubt it, probably more than this. I heard someone rented a four character domain for multiple hundred thousand usd per year.

That's got me looking at similar domains... belt, celt, delt, melt, pelt, welt...

Each could have been something interesting, but disappointingly there is only one other "real" website: melt.com ("Cheesed to meet you!")

Very cool, although IMO this would fit much better as a feature of something like Google Maps rather than a standalone product. While I'm sure it has valid professional use cases, quickly annotating and sharing maps is something I do all the time with friends (let's meet here, let's check out these three spots, here's the route for the hike/drive/bike), and I can't really imagine using yet another standalone product that everyone has to create accounts and maybe pay for, when a screenshot of maps app + built-in annotation tool works perfectly fine.

Felt employee here, only the map creator needs an account. Viewers can view the map anonymously (unless the creator restricts anonymous viewing). One benefit is that you can zoom out or zoom in from a Felt map, where you can't do that with a screenshot (unless you're on CSI of course). But there's plenty of cases where a screenshot will still work, and that's fine!

Google Maps has a feature called My Maps that I think you're describing

Looks cool! I'm also wondering how much this 4-letter domain is worth.

The tech looks really really good. I can see that it serves the purposes in their demo well. May be just my ignorance, but I am failing to see how this will be a business yet.

The use cases are niche and basically require adoption from institutions.

The business model of allowing individuals to use, and allowing them to share, seems like a loophole to me. Per their FAQ, paid model will be for team collabs, which I would think is even more niche.

Hopefully they know better about this space then me. Best of luck Felt!

Does anyone know a simple (paid) API to get birds eye satellite view (45 degrees, not top down) for a given address to persist as an image?

I've been looking for something to create a map of the venue for an upcoming wedding. This seems to work out nicely. One thing I hope it adds on is the use of the arrow keys to pan around the map. When creating the polygon, it's annoying to repeatedly zoom in/zoom out to create the shape, where panning would be much easier.

Love this. Been a consistent pain for us just to make as simple map you can toss out to someone for a report and then forget about. Will be interesting to see how it plays out - arcgis recently launched a sort of consumer oriented mapping service - wonder how far they're wanting to go.

People use google earth desktop for this too

The TOS and privacy policy[0] are hosted on notion instead of a true static page, which is sort of concerning.

0: https://feltmaps.notion.site/Privacy-Policy-69227ee23a8a48dc...

What do you suppose constitutes a "true" static page? (More to the point: what would prevent Felt from updating their static pages whenever they wish?)

I'd call it "odd" rather than "concerning." Guessing they ran this by Legal, but there's something's weird about the TOS/PP existing on a different domain, without any of the branding of the company, and in a Notion doc. It does the job, I suppose.

Why is that concerning?

Does it do custom heatmaps? Can you make lines from imported coordinates? Can these be color-coded, or weighted?

I'm asking, because I do a lot of stuff like that, and currently I'm just using Folium for whatever tasks I have at hand - but would love to try out felt if that's the case.

Looks like a simpler version of Leaflet

Superb execution! Very well done guys. I've shared the link in my personal list of curated online resources:https://bit.ly/cmfresources

Is there an app or website that allows me to review restaurants or add notes offline? I recently moved and want an easy way to remember good restaurants etc, but don't want my entire movements sold to best buyer.

Disappointed to not learn more about the marvelous properties of compressed fibers.

Totally off-topic, but if you click on "Careers" and scroll down to where they list their funding sources, the font size becomes so large I had to move away from my computer to read it. Reason unclear.

Doesn't seem to work very well in Firefox, at least not in my browser.

(felt founder here) Sorry to hear that. What issue are you having? Feel free to DM me and I'll take a look.

I don't think it's possible to DM on HN. The maps do not show properly, they don't properly load and when I try to zoom in/out the Felt overlay does a sort of weird parallax effect which makes things even more misaligned.



It happens with the other example maps, too.

i just tried to create a map and it didn’t even support searching by gps coordinates

how therefore am i supposed to find a place i’ve identified on google maps?

Seems cool but I'm wondering what their business model is, and what will happen to the product and user data in future.

Why does zooming into a map decrease the font sizes for street names?

What about it?

Another douchily obscure title on HN.


not interested unless it is about the 80s indie pop band

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