Monday, December 21, 2009

Cloud basemaps, so elusive

I wanted to use openstreetmaps as the base data layer for the new UD Campus Maps, but am running into the same labeling issues as when I use a google maps base layer ... labels are prerendered to appear on streets, cities, etc. of course not taking into account placement of "UD" layers (e.g. buildings). When the two are displayed together there is a very unsightly overlapping effect.

So the way around this is to use a custom renderer, which is actually quite a bit of work ... the custom renderer requires a large amount of space, not to mention an initial span of CPU time. It also requires that I create custom style specs, which address all sorts of issues, including a plethora of OSM tags, as well as all the details about base layer appearence ... all to be done manually of course.

... not to mention, the existing baselayers seem to be disagree with cloud services ever so slightly

CloudMade offers a very cool service for rendering custom basemaps from OSM data, all through an efficient GUI, and they even host it for you. Trouble is their terms do not seem to permit "non-personal" use, :.(

Sooo, I can:

  1. set up a custom render, which *might* require a lot of space/time, and *might* require a lot of work in symbolization, and will consume local resources instead of leveraging the cloud
  2. *or* use ArcGIS server to tilecache a national basemap ... having much the same disadvantages as above, except that I have a better idea of how much time/resources it will take
  3. *or* render on top of satellite data (which doesn't really look that good, and not very informative for directions), plus requiring me to create custom label and symbol scaling and symbology for Newark basemap details (tending to be less attractive than those already available in the cloud, and causing disuniformity with surrounding areas)
  4. *or* I can mask the extent of all "UD layers" and use this as the default extent for the map, putting in some scale sensitivity which causes UD detailed layers to disappear when viewed at a larger "regional" scale and instead showing some extent rectangle ... then showing these layers again when at a closer zoom (having some of the same drawbacks of disuniformity/attractiveness)

... as of today the last option seems the best ... I sure hope it bares fruit, we need to get this project rolling!
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