Over the last month I've been heads down busy with a large new release of GeoCommons. We're still finishing up a number of the features, but wanted to share a sneak-peak of a particularly relevant one.
Last night CloudMade publicly premiered their new developer tools based on the OpenStreetMap data. It's exciting to see friends and peers successfully go from concept, to global community, to launching a company and great line-up of products.
Of particular interest to us at GeoCommons is the custom cartography tools that CloudMade has developed. The power and capability of OpenStreetMap is hard to deny, but a common observation is the lack of visually appealing design - or at least the Euro-centrist assumptions made when viewing North American tiles.
With GeoCommons, we spend a lot of time thinking about proper cartography, and visualization. We already support the major tile providers such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Road, Aerial, Terrain via the great open-source ModestMaps library. However, there are still limitations and assumptions to the base cartography in these tiles. AxisMaps has a good discussion of the technicalities in choosing semi-transparent colors for a Choropleth that look good on tiles.
GeoCommons integration with CloudMade tile services from GeoCommons on Vimeo.
Now with CloudMade's customized map tiles our users will be able to design and import these custom tiles as basemaps in GeoCommons. You can see the demo that was part of the launch event in this video.
We're really excited with all of CloudMade's tools - and wish them the best success.