Monday, December 8, 2014

New tools for making maps on the web

To know a motorcyclist is to know someone who can stare at maps for what may seem like an unhealthy duration. Those who become afflicted with the map bug may choose to seek a map fix in their professional lives as well, if you’re not careful map making can turn into a full time gig.

People pay me to make maps. It’s not always as fun as it sounds, but sometimes it is.

ArcGIS Online is a suite of tools used by cartographers to make maps on the web, it does what Google Maps has been doing for a while. While Google excels at giving you directions, ArcGIS Online excels at making pretty maps. 

Once you have your pretty map you can wrap it in a pretty application, share it on social media or embed it in a webpage. All of this map making goodness and 2GB of storage can be yours for free by signing up for a public account.

Wind direction, wind speed and the daily high temp. 

My co-worker and I put together a 4 hour class on creating web maps titled “ArcGIS Online: Mapping in the Cloud.” While the class is sure to be captivating, the nuts and bolts of it are covered in the exercises (click to download the MS Word document). 

These tools can be used to add maps to your blogs, documents or presentations. While Google does not allow you to embed code (the dynamic map) in Blogger, you can simply add a screenshot and a link to your map. (this is also true for a Google Maps map as far as I can tell)

My Lake Superior circle tour 2006ish?

ArcGIS Online maps (the points, lines, polygons, pictures and basemap information) can be wrapped in a number of different web map applications. Simple applications add buttons for zooming, printing and sharing on social media. More complex applications let you tell a story using text and a map. 

Someday I'll use the story map application template for a ride report, at the moment the only example I have involves the construction of a new bridge over the St. Croix River.

Building a bridge over a National Scenic Waterway

Please feel free to leave a comment if you're interested in using ArcGIS Online or have any questions. I'm happy to help out.

About ArcGIS by Esri:

The ArcGIS suite of products are used by cartographers, urban planners, geologists, utilities managers and natural resource managers to create maps and perform complex analysis of spatial patterns. For example I could calculate the ratio of road’s length to distance traveled, a number known as sinuosity. I haven’t, but I could build a map where straight roads are pale pink and Deals Gap is dark maroon.

[arc - a unit of angular measurement e.g. 1 arc minute = 1/60th of a degree]
[GIS - geographic information systems or science]
[Esri - formerly known as Environmental Science Research Institute]

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