HERE XYZ and Maps 3.0

HERE XYZ shipped yesterday. It’s hard to talk about it without referring to CARTO so we can do that – it’s just like CARTO in some ways. But really, it’s a glimpse of what GIS will look like in the future as it gets democratized and cheaper. While fulfilling similar goals to GIS – creating maps – it’s opposite GIS in many ways. XYZ is quicker, free (or freeish, it looks like paid plans are coming) and far simpler. It’s built for making mashups and publishable maps today, but you can see a bunch of directions it can go in the future. What it misses today is analysis, we need something in between XYZ and QGIS which would be a real tool you could use to make decisions with.

One super cool thing (for me at least) is the use of OSM everywhere.

Here’s a map I made pulling in some MSFT buildings :

It’s relatively easy to pull in geojson and get it on a map, I grabbed the smallest MSFT buildings file and uploaded that (Washington DC). At first I thought there were Safari bugs as many little things and prompts are missing but switching to Chrome didn’t seem to make much difference. There’s missing squares of buildings that I’m guessing either failed or are still importing. There’s a 1 million object limit so it could have just stopped importing too.

What’s happening is we’re moving to maps 3.0.

  • Maps 1.0 was paper and clunky tools, like reloading a page to pan or zoom a map. Stored in a silo on someones website.
  • Maps 2.0 is/was Google Maps. “free” maps, easy access, easy to add to my site but the same experience for everyone. Generally required a developer to implement.
  • Maps 3.0 isn’t here but we’re starting to get hints of it with CARTO and XYZ. Maps 3.0 removes the need for a developer, lets me customize the map and deploy it anywhere by just clicking around, and include my own data.

What we need to add here are tools that let me tell a story with the map. That means transitions, text, video and interactivity to let an end user explore the narrative. Beyond that it means tools that let me rip, mix and burn a new map. Can I take your map and add something or mash it with another one? Can I let end users do something other than just panning around and zooming, like measuring things, dropping notes, adding more context? That’s what’s really interesting as a set of possiblities.

XYZ bugs & features missing, remembering it’s day 2:

  • Upload of .gz or .zip files looks unsupported, which is important with gigantic MSFT buildings files
  • Upload is kind of slow. I was curious where XYZ is hosted but they have CloudFront in front of it. Maybe it’s in Europe or some other AWS AZ.
  • Login is HERE-only, would be nice to have social logins to make it quicker.
  • Double-click to zoom is missing(!)
  • Inertial map dragging seems to work in Chrome but not Safari.
  • shift-drag to zoom to an area is missing – a major power tool.
  • The default map zoom & location is to show western Europe. It would be nice if it used ip or browser location to show something more relevant.
  • There doesn’t seem to be indication on layer processing, though you do get a upload process bar.
  • The relationships between layers and data is slightly confusing in that you have to upload and then select the layer and then add it. XYZ has gone with the model of having maps, layers and datasets which feels a little inherited from GIS. Instead I really just want to load data on a map and not have these abstractions and dialogs. Just drag a geojson on to the map, boom, data shows up. Not click-click-click-click…
  • Exporting a map gives you some iframe code but it has no css, you have to add height and width
  • Location search is buggy in Safari and in Chrome can show 5 different “Denver” results

 

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