Voting on sessions has opened for the FOSS4G conference, an annual open source geo conference happening this September in Denver. We’ve submitted two sessions that focus on how we leverage our custom mapping stack built upon Node.js, Mapnik, and MBTiles- “Turning Data into Beautiful Maps”, a hands on walk through of how to use open source tools to design highly custom maps with your own geo-data, and “Advanced Cartography for the Web” on the strategies behind designing gorgeous maps for the web and mobile devices. You can vote for these session on the FOSS4G website (you will need to enter your email address to do so), and full descriptions of them are below.

FOSS4G has grown immensely in recent years into one of the bigger events in the open source mapping space. The conference should be a great opportunity to see what open source tools are emerging in map design. We’re excited to share what we’re working on in the sessions below, and with TileMill and MapBox, and in the workshop that Dane is leading on Leveraging Mapnik for designing custom map tiles and scalable applications.

Again, you can vote for these sessions here until May 8, and read more about them below.

Turning Data into Beautiful Maps

### Speaker: Tom

Data experts can now become mapmakers without picking up GIS expertise first. This session will walk through how to leverage emerging open source tools to design highly custom maps for use online and on mobile devices - without GIS experience.

This session will start by looking at the current ecosystem of open source mapping technologies and the possibilities with the growing open data movement and market demand for location awareness. Then it will look at one tool specifically - TileMill, an open source map editor that makes it easy to design and generate beautiful custom map tiles for users with basic web HTML/CSS fluency.

This session will walk through how to use TileMill to create custom maps, starting from combining spreadsheet data with open data shapefiles to editing the map design using Carto, a CSS like language to adding new data overlay using your own or open data sets. It will then show how to take a custom interactive map, host it, and use it either on a website or on a mobile device. By the end of the session, participants will have seen at least one map created from scratch using TileMill in use on a website and ipad.

This session will also discuss the open source technologies at TileMill’s core - Mapnik, which renders the map, and Carto, the map styling language. These projects and others are the basis of TileMill, so the presentation will also focus on their individual characteristics as well as how they fit into a user friendly package. The centerpiece, however, will be teaching participants how to use the tools to create and use their own custom maps.

Advanced Cartography for the Web

### Speaker: AJ

Putting information on a map - whether that’s seismic activity in Japan or election results in Afghanistan - immediately adds more context to your data. Maps quickly become move powerful with more data overlays, like the magnitude and timing of aftershocks or incidents of corruption and security threats. The story you can tell with your information changes with this additional data, but largely due to how you tell that story with your map with its design.

This session will introduce strategies to design beautiful, effective, and interactive maps with emerging open source mapping tools that are accessible for designers - and not just developers with a GIS background. Open source tools and free and open data now power some of the most stunning maps in the world, and consistent advances in these tools are decreasing the barrier to entry for designers with a web background who want to start designing maps. Participants will leave this session armed with strategies behind designing effective maps, and with a knowledge of the open source tools available to help them easily design them.

Taking a case-study approach, participants will see real-world examples of challenges encountered when designing maps for the web. Topics covered will include interactive design, techniques for tight integration of your maps with your web application, methods for increasing the signal-to-noise ratio in your designs, and map design best practices - plus some fun features like making 3D maps. Possible example maps will include:


The tools and data discussion will center around the Mapnik renderer, the CSS-like Carto styling language, the open source map design studio TileMill, and the OpenStreetMap database.