Welcome back to our Map Mavin Methods monthly series! This month we are particularly excited to talk all things web mapping. While traditionally we’ve covered one little piece or tool within our web mapping platform (which is of course still helpful), we’ve received several inquiries as to how some of our more complicated maps used in demos have been made. So we thought, why not let our readers in on a little “secret”? As it turns out, even our most “complicated” maps are in fact not complicated at all! In this demo, we’ll walk through our most popular map, how it was made, and how you too can make something just like it in a matter of minutes!
Before we begin to take a look at the actual steps involved in making our NYC map, let’s briefly discuss a key part of the process: finding data! There are essentially two ways to make a web map. You can A.) find data or B.) create and use your own (or do a combination of both). In this example we use existing data that’s out there in the public domain for anyone to download. Now back to the topic of where to find such data. While we could have a long discussion of the many, many different types of data one can find online and places in which to find them (and eventually will), for now we’re going to focus on open data portals. More and more states, counties and cities are making their GIS data available online, and chances are that the city nearest you has already done so. A simple Google search will generally pull up what you’ll need. Once on a particular city’s GIS portal (see our video for an example), you’ll want to download the layers you find in either KMZ or shapefile format (we support other formats, such as TIFFs but those are discussed in other tutorials).
Once back in your Map Mavin account, click the Layers tab. From here go to the upper right corner of the page and click the green Create Layer button. You can either drag and drop files or find them in their respective folders.
Having uploaded layers you can now stylize them one by one by clicking on a given layer in the Layers tab to open it up. We’ve discussed this in more detail in other FAQ’s as well (see the Layers section of the Map Mavin support page).
To make a map, click the Maps tab and then the green button titled New Map. You’ll be brought to the map creation portal where you can select the layers you want to use, decide whether you want to make it public-facing or private, and permit users to edit the map if desired.
There you have it! The process is described in further detail in the video but essentially all map creation is that straightforward. Upload, select layers and stylize them!