In Europe, all roads lead to Rome


You can reach the eternal city on almost 500.000 routes from all across the continent. Which road would you take?

We aligned starting points in a 26.503.452 km² grid covering all of Europe. Every cell of this grid contains the starting point to one of our journeys to Rome.Now that we have our 486.713 starting points we need to find out how we could reach Rome as our destination. For this we created a algorithm that calculates one route for every trip. The more often a single street segment is used, the stronger it is drawn on the map. The maps as outcome of this project is somewhere between information visualization and data art, unveiling mobility and a very large scale.

Maperitive Tutorial: Generating OSM Map For Adobe Illustrator In Seven Easy Steps

In this tutorial you will learn how to produce a vector map based on OpenStreetMap data and then export it to SVG format suitable for editing in Adobe Illustrator. SVG export is one of the most useful features Maperitive provides and I’ve spent a lot of time tweaking the code so that Illustrator can handle the exported SVGs.

NOTE: the tutorial has been written for Maperitive build 1228. Some things will change in the near future, so please visit for any updates.

First things first: start Maperitive (if you don’t already have it, you can download it from here). Unzip the package somewhere on your disk and run Maperitive.exe (on Windows) or (on Linux/Mac).

Step 1: Setting Your Map Limits

Currently Maperitive uses your computer’s memory to store map data, so there is a limit of how large a map it can work on. Because of that, we need to tell Maperitive what area we’re interested in, so all the operations will limit themselves on that area.

There are several ways to set the limits. The easiest is to move the map to the area, zoom in our out appropriately to cover all the area you want, and then use the Map / Set Bounds menu function.

I will do this manually by entering a following command in the command prompt (at the bottom of the screen):

bounds-set -74.03,40.7,-73.96,40.72

I suggest you do the same for the purposes of this tutorial, so our map areas would match. The area in question is lower end of Manhattan.

Step 2: Loading OSM Data

Now we need to get the vector OSM data for our map. There are several ways of doing this.

The easiest one is to use the Map / Download OSM Data menu function, which contacts an OSM server to fetch the data. Try it out. If it fails, try it a couple more times. The problem is that these servers are sometimes overloaded and unresponsive.

If this doesn’t work, another option is to use JOSM or the Export tab on the OSM Web Map site. In that case you will get an OSM XML file, which you need to save on your disk (using .osm extension!) and then load into Maperitive using the File / Open Map Sources menu function (or simply drag and drop the file into Maperitive).

Once the OSM data is in, we can proceed with the next step…

Step 3: Removing The Web Map

Now that we have some vector content of our own, we don’t really need the OSM web map anymore. Select the Web Map (OSM Mapnik) in the Map Sources window at the bottom of the screen and then click on the “X” button to remove it:

Step 4: Changing The Map Style

The default map style resembles the standard OSM Web map layer (generated using Mapnik). But just to show off, we will switch to something that looks like Google Maps. Choose Map / Switch To Rules / googlemaps menu function. After a second or two of processing, the map will change its style.

Step 5: Deciding The Map Scale

Depending on your needs, you can export the map using different map scales. Map scale is directly linked to the zoom level and together they determine what type of content is visible on the map and how the content is rendered. In the case of our Google Maps-like style, the street names are starting to appear on zoom level 15 and higher, so if you need them in your export, you will have to use the zoom level 15 or higher.

The zoom level value is displayed at the bottom of the screen:

The map scale is shown at the bottom left of the map itself, together with the bar scale indicator:

For this tutorial I’ve decided the zoom level 16 is the one I want. Try it out, you can set your own later.

Step 6: Exporting To SVG

The easiest way to export would be to use Tools / Export to SVG (For Adobe Illustrator) menu function. But since we need to specify the zoom level in our case, we will type the export-svg command manually into the Command Prompt:

export-svg compatibility=illustrator zoom=16

We instructed Maperitive to export the current map to a SVG file suitable for Adobe Illustrator and to use zoom level 16. After a couple of seconds a new file called output.svg should appear under the output directory of your Maperitive installation.

Step 7: Import Into Adobe Illustrator

Now that you have a SVG file, open up your AI and import it. If it complains about “roundtrips to Tiny”, simply ignore that.

Adobe Illustrator vs. Inkscape

You may wonder why you had to specify the compatibility=illustrator argument in the Step 6. I will just quote Maperitive documentation on this:

Due to the pretty buggy support which Adobe Illustrator provides for loading SVG files, it is not possible to have the same SVG optimally shown in both Illustrator and Inkscape. In other words, if you plan to use the SVG file in Illustrator, you should specify compatibility=illustrator parameter. Maperitive will in this case do some tweaks to the SVG file which allow it to be shown without any problems in Illustrator (tested in CS5). But do not expect this file to be usable in other SVG viewers/editors.

On the other hand, if you need a SVG file which can be shown in various Web browsers and editable in Inkscape, you should specify compatibility=inkscape parameter. Again, do not expect this file to be usable in Illustrator.


This tutorial shows only the basic workflow, but there are many ways of how the workflow can be customized and even automated (by putting everything into a Maperitive script). Visit for more information.

Good luck and enjoy mapping!


Median age by town in metropolitan France (2010) / Age médian par commune en France métropolitaine (2010)

Data source:

Code source:

Disclaimer: I made these graphs for my own amusement and for learning new plotting methods. Do not consider them a reliable source of information. Refer directly to the data source for more information regarding the data collection method.

Crisis Mapping Japan

Hi, my name is Hal Seki. I am the managing director of I am CEO of Georepublic Japan, and also a member of OpenStreetMap Foundation Japan. As introduced in this blog before, we have started to run the website using the Ushahidi platform to provide information about the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11. The website is mainly operated by the OpenStreetMap Foundation Japan, and supported by more than 200 volunteers.

In Sochi, Open Source Maps Beat Google’s

How do you find reliable information?

Back in 2005, a study in Nature concluded that Wikipedia—at the time, a free upstart just eking its way into the Google results—was about as good a source as the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica. Though it found Wikipedia had slightly more factual errors than the older reference, the study gave the website a major commendation when it needed one. 

OpenStreetMap, a free-to-edit and free-to-use world map often compared with Wikipedia, received a similar—though less validated—commendation last week, when the reporter Greg Miller at Wired found that its maps exceeded Google’s at describing Sochi, the home of the 2014 winter Olympics.

Miller compared not only the city but also its Olympic surroundings in the two maps. OSM, he found, often contained far more information than Google Maps, especially on features like ski slopes.

Read more. [Image: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters]

Ito World has created a tiled layer showing the status of the TIGER imported road data for the US on OpenStreetMap.

The layer shows roads that have been reviewed, not reviewed, and when they were last edited in the database. A surprising number of the major roads in the Tampa Bay area have been reviewed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the geometry has been corrected from the error-prone original – there’s still plenty of work to be done.

If you’re editing transportation network data on the map, remember to check out the latest TIGER import documentation on the wiki to get a feel for how the data is tagged. It’s a fantastic data resource, but needs a fair amount of help to get up to a high standard of quality for routing.

Maperitive: 3D Export

The latest Maperitive beta (download it from here) now contains a new command called export-3d, which generates a 3D mesh using the digital elevation model and places the map texture on top of it. The 3D model is exported into a COLLADA format, which can be imported into various 3D programs (Google SketchUp is the one I mostly used, it’s free).

Quick How-To

The quickest/easiest way to generate a 3D export is to move the map to the area you’re interested in and simply select the Tools | Export To 3D menu command. Maperitive will then generate files in the output/Maperitive3D directory of your Maperitive installation. If you do not load your own OSM vector layer, Maperitive will use OSM tiles, the same ones used to show tne OSM web map.

NOTE: be careful to keep the map area fairly small, otherwise you’ll end up with a 3D model that you won’t be able to import into other software, especially if you don’t have a top-of-the-line computer at your disposal.

Importing Into SketchUp

After opening SketchUp, choose **File | Import…“ menu command. NOTE: Before browsing for the file, click on the Options… button and make sure Validate COLLADA file is turned off:

Validation should be disabled because it makes importing unbearably slow, especially for larger models. After you’ve done this, browse to your generated Maperitive3D.dae file and open it.

Depending on the size of your model, you might have to wait for some time for the importing to finish. Sometimes I even have to resort to killing the SketchUp process and regenerating a simpler model.

Configuring SketchUp

After the model has been successfully imported, you may want to tweak a few settings in SketchUp to make the rendering look better:

  • View | Edge Style | Edge - uncheck this so the edges of surfaces are not shown.
  • View | Face Style - choose Shaded With Textures to get the best effect.
  • View | Shadows - check this to turn on the sun shadows.

Tweaking The 3D Model

export-3d command provides additional parameters we can tweak. Type in help-command export-3d into the command prompt and you’ll get the list of those parameters:

COMMAND NAME: export-3d 
DESCRIPTION: generates a 3D map from the current map view and saves it to the disk 
  output-dir=<the directory where output files will be saved> (text, optional)
  mesh-points=<the maximum number of points the terrain TIM mesh should have> (integer, optional)
  tin-error=<the maximum allowed elevation difference (in meters) when simplifying the terrain TIN mesh (default is 1 meter)> (real number, optional)
  width=<bitmap width> (value, optional)
  height=<bitmap height> (value, optional)
  map-scale=<map scale to use when exporting> (value, optional)
  scale=<graphics scale to use when exporting> (value, optional)
  dpi=<DPI to use when exporting> (value, optional)
  zoom=<zoom level to use when exporting> (value, optional)

Better Bitmap Texture

By setting various bitmap parameters you can increase the resolution of the bitmap and/or the zoom level of the underlying OSM bitmap.

TIN Tweaks

To increase performance, Maperitive uses Garland-Heckbert’s TIN simplification algorithm to simplify the terrain triangulated irregular network (TIN). There are two command parameters that affect the simplification process:

  • tin-error: this is the maximum error (tolerance) allowed between the actual DEM elevation and the generated model, in meters. The default value is 1 meter and if your model becomes too big to handle, I suggest increasing the tolerance value.

  • mesh-points: this is the maximum number of points (vertices) the TIN should have. The simplification algorithm starts from a very simple model (just two triangles) and incrementally adds new points to it. Upon reaching the maximum number of points, the algorithm stops (regardless of the tin-error setting). This is a safeguard against the model going wild with too many points. So I suggest experimenting with those two values to get something workable for your case.

Setting The Map Area More Precisely

Instead of relying on the map window to act as your area of interest, you can specify printing bounds (right click on the map) and move them to an exact position of your choice.

Final Notes

This 3D export function is by no means of the same quality as some other OSM 3D projects - you don’t get any 3D objects apart from the terrain model, so don’t expect to see any 3D buildings, trees etc. It is, however, a very simple tool to use (I hope) and it produces an output in a fairly open standard (COLLADA) which can then be tweaked with other software.

The next logical step would be to include the things like roads and buildings as actual 3D objects, but I will leave that for the future since my task list already very full with other features.

Please send me feedback if you find this feature useful (or indeed if you find it crappy). Since all this is beta, expect to find bugs. Also, if you’re more of an expert in 3D field than me, a question for you: can you recommend any (preferably free) tool for raytracing which can consume COLLADA files generated by Maperitive?


Explore a Pixelated World with 8-Bit City’s Maps

Zooming in and out of 8-Bit City‘s maps will make you feel like a kid again. Using data from OpenStreetMap, creator Brett Camper built interactive web maps of 18 cities around the world–in the style of a 1980s video game, which Camper says is the inspiration for the project:

I hope that these maps will evoke the same urge for exploration and abstract sense of scale that many of us remember experiencing on the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Commodore 64, or any other number of 8-bit microcomputers. Maps offer us visual architectures of the world, encouraging us to think about and interact with space in particularly constrained ways. 

Here’s more on the project, via Untapped Cities:

Don’t underestimate the detail of these maps based on their low resolution; they contain surprisingly accurate placements of city locations, attractions, streets, etc. You can even search for any address, and the map will refresh and zoom right to it.

Camper tells us he isn’t working on this project anymore, so don’t expect to see your city mapped if it isn’t already up. However, he is planning to make an indie video game that players to explore these 8-Bit City maps!

Images: 8-Bit City, screen grabs of Seattle and Amsterdam maps.
ODbL progress

From Richard Weiat:

We’re planning the final stages of the switch over to the Open Database License for OpenStreetMap data. The OpenStreetMap Foundation Board discussed the license upgrade process and many other aspects of the project at their recent board meeting, and we’ll have more information about that from the board shortly.

One item that came out of the board meeting was the deadline to complete the license upgrade by 01 April 2012 and to publish the first OpenStreetMap planet file under the ODbL by 04 April 2012. The License Working Group supports this target date as a reasonable goal.

Alternative basemaps for Tableau

Link to workbook (Tableau 9.0 beta 6here

ESRI Tapestry - Tableau TMS file

Tapestry Reference Guide here

ESRI Dark Grey Base - Tableau TMS file

ESRI Light Grey Base - Tableau TMS file

ESRI Nat Geo World Map - Tableau TMS file

ESRI World Imagery - Tableau TMS file

ESRI World Topo - Tableau TMS file

OpenStreetMap - Tableau TMS file

Stamen Terrain - Tableau TMS file

Stamen Toner - Tableau TMS file

Stamen Watercolor - Tableau TMS file


  • Light Grey Base © Esri, HERE, DeLorme, © OpenStreetMap contributors
  • World Topo © Esri and data providers
  • World Imagery © Esri, DigitalGlobe, GeoEye, i-cubed, USDA FSA, USGS, AEX, Getmapping, Aerogrid, IGN, IGP, swisstopo, and the GIS User Community
  • Nat Geo World Map © National Geographic and Esri, DeLorme, HERE, UNEP-WCMC, NASA, ESA, USGS, and others
  • Map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under CC BY SA
  • OpenStreetMap © OpenStreetMap contributors

anonymous asked:

Are there any resources available for exporting city map data (similar to Google Maps, etc) to vector format for importing into Illustrator? Do you utilize any pre-existing data for your projects, or do you simple start from scratch? I'm thinking of your Dallas streetcar map in particular.

To be honest, most of the time, I just start from scratch. My very low-tech workflow is to quickly grab some screenshots from Google Maps or similar and just start drawing on top of it in Illustrator. I figure that if I’ve drawn it myself, I’ll get a map that does exactly what I want it to do, and I’ll set it up right so that I can edit it easily in the future. It also means that I can simplify things as I work, like straightening out roads a bit for clarity.

I actually do have a copy of ArcMap at work and I can use it well enough to find data, make and export a basic unstyled map for further editing in Illustrator, but most of the time I just end up horrified by the poor quality of paths that it creates – millions of points, unconnected line segments, and so on. Basically, clean up of these files can take longer than just drawing a simple base map myself. For an idea, it only took me 7-8 hours to draw the underlying roads, waterways and parks for the McKinney Avenue Streetcar map, and that included all the fiddly freeway interchanges!

To the other part of your question: I don’t think it’s permissible under Google Maps’ license agreement to export their data for reuse, and I’m not even sure that it’s possible to get vector output from Google Maps.

That leaves GIS (either paid ArcGIS, or freeware like QGIS – but as I say above, results can be less than impressive), or – perhaps more promisingly – exporting as SVG or PDF from, which has the added bonus of being completely open-source.

Their Wiki has some basic information here, and this seems to be a great walkthrough on getting quality, layered, unstyled SVG exports from OSM using a command-line utility, Maperative.

Note: Unstyled exports are important, because most of the time you want to bring an SVG into Illustrator to apply your own styling. Not having to remove or edit previously existing styles is a huge time-saver!

I hope that this at least starts you on your way! I feel sure some of my readers know far more about this subject than me, so please leave a comment if you think you can shed some more light on the topic.

Watch on

US road accident casualties: every one mapped across America created by The Guardian:

Transport data mapping experts ITO World have taken the official data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - and produced this powerful map using OpenStreetMap.