Mapbox! A presentation for Code for America, 2015
My name is Lyzi Diamond. I do support and education at Mapbox.
Basically, I answer questions and help our users understand our tools through documentation, guides, and blog posts.
There are many tools out there for making maps. With some of them, it's very clear what all they can do.
Mapbox is not that company. We do a ton of things!
At Mapbox, we make developer tools for making custom web maps.
That means custom as in style...
... and custom as in interaction.
We have a few main tools you can use to make smart, beautiful maps. Let's talk about them.
Currently, our main design tool is Mapbox Studio.
Studio comes pre-loaded with a ton of vector data from OpenStreetMap and Natural Earth.
You can style this data using a language called CartoCSS (which is very similar to CSS).
You can also add your own vector data to style (say, from a city open data portal).
Then, you can upload your styles and sources to your Mapbox account to use in your maps.
Some of you may have heard of TileMill. Mapbox Studio (originally called TileMill 2) is similar.
However, Mapbox Studio exports vector tiles, which differ from the raster tiles that TileMill kicks out.
With vector tiles, your vector data and style are stored separately, and the vector data maintains its attributes.
That way you can apply multiple styles to the same data, and the files are smaller. This means your maps load quicker!
But I digress. Here's a puppy.
So let's say you make a custom map style with Mapbox Studio. Then what?
You could add it to a map in the Mapbox Editor!
With Mapbox Editor you can also upload data to add to your map, or draw your own data.
These Projects are then saved to your account and given a map ID.
(Editor also gives you a share link and an embed code.)
But let's say you want more. Let's say you want custom tooltips or custom markers or a list of features.
Awesome! You can use Mapbox.js.
There are a ton of different examples both in the documentation and on the blog.
Oh! and we have these handy dandy guides!
Okay. So you made a custom style with Mapbox Studio. You added some data with Mapbox Editor. You added more interaction with Mapbox.js.
What about analysis? Or ooh, what if we add some directions to our map? Maybe geocoding?
Check, check, check.
Turf.js is a JavaScript library for spatial analysis.
We also have a lovely directions API and a geocoder, both in active development.
(We also have a static maps API if you're into that kind of thing.)
We also have a ton of mobile tools!
So why am I here at Code for America talking to you about this?
Because, as I'm sure you know by now, an overwhelming amount of government data is spatial data.
And typically, local governments are hamstrung by the tools they're required to use.
You do not have those same limitations.
You can make a quick web map to show off something you found in their data.
We did that a little last year with Lexington data from their open data portal:
This shit blew their minds.
It's such a cool way to show off the value of open spatial data!
I also understand that it's not super easy to just jump in to doing something new.
Maps are hard.
If you ever have ANY questions, do not hesitate to reach out.
I'm at
I'm also more than happy to come down and lead workshops on any of our tools, do office hours, etc.
You can find this presentation online: /mapbox-cfa.
And we have totally sweet coupons for you!
I'm Lyzi Diamond. Twitter: @lyzidiamond. Email: