interactive map – test map up and running

Update, just in case anyone, anywhere ever reads this …

So, goings on — my friends Josh and Maxine were in town recently, and I got to go see their movie screening on Sunday at Santa Barbara, so that was very cool. I met a couple gents from Greenpeace, one of whom, at least, Josh and Maxine are have built a relationship with through the making of this film. I’ve pretty much decided that I’d rather work for an environmental nonprofit than just about anyone else, so I hope I’ll be in contact with those guys again. The movie is Musicwood, and it is nominated for a social justice award, so that’s exciting. Here’s the website: They’re headed to Missoula, Montana, Washington, D.C., and I think Seattle, Washington as well for film festivals in the not too distant future. Check it out.

And how about that interactive map? Well, I don’t think L.A. Waterkeeper would mind me saying that it is their website for which I’m making the map. I have a test map working, but I’ll wait to share until it’s better. But it’s going along pretty well. There were a few options, as mentioned in my previous post — OpenLayers, MapBox, ArcGIS Online — I decided to go with Google Maps API, because it’s pretty easy to use, has more tutorials and documentation than OpenLayers, seems to offer more in terms of adding links, icons, and so forth compared to ArcGIS Online, and there shouldn’t be any licensing issues for a nonprofit. I didn’t really look into MapBox as much — it does look pretty good, but really Google Maps just stood out to me as probably the best blend of being easy to learn, relatively quick to get set up, and though their basemap must be used, it can be styled using the Style Wizard to look very different, very uncluttered. I can add layers as KMLs, which allows for placemarks and line styles and all those sorts of things to be established within the code of the KML pretty easily. It’s a little tricky to muddle into, because the various GIS programs I’ve tried all do different things when exporting to KML — ArcMap allows you to set the colors, but it dumps all the attributes, and transparency must be added after export. QGIS did kind of a weird thing — the file I used had these simple but nice tables that showed in balloons when you click on a feature in Google Earth, and it kept all the attributes, but then in the Google Map none of that happens. It’s good to know the info is being retained within the KML, but I would have to restructure it to get it to display the way I want. Global Mapper so far is the best I’ve tried — it doesn’t have all the lovely qualitative color ramps of ArcMap, but it does keep the color, the transparency, and the attributes. It gives the features placemarks, which pop up a balloon containing a rather ugly and rudimentary little table, but I’m thinking maybe I can borrow the table style tidbits from the QGIS export as a template to make those tidier. So far, so good.

I think it’s going well, and I think the folks at Waterkeeper seem pretty pleased with what little I got going so far, and I think we’ll have it up on their website in a month or so, after which it will be all the sort of tweaks and refinements to improve it. Anyways, I wish I had more time, but my actual paying job has been keeping me busy. Plus there’s that pesky thesis I’m supposed to be working on.

MapWindow Measuring Tool and curious NAD 83 State Plane Coordinate System inconsistencies in .prj files

I have been using MapWindow recently, and it seems like a very good program, especially considering it’s free. As my employer no longer provides a viewer to our customers, we have been recommending MapWindow…but…there is a problem. Many of our customers use the California State Plane Coordinate System with units of U.S. feet and, for whatever reason, the measuring tool in the current version of MapWindow (4.8.6) doesn’t seem to be able to deal with feet. I started noodling around with shapefile projections in ArcMap, Global Mapper, and MapWindow and checking out the .prj files in Notepad to see if I could find any clues.

So, I created a shapefile and made a copy. I defined the projection of one in ArcMap, and of the other in MapWindow. Arc was able to display them both correctly, but did not recognize that the projection is actually the same. When I pulled both into MapWindow, the ESRI one failed to reproject and was not displayed. When I opened both in Global Mapper, no problem. So then I exported a new one from Global Mapper, and tried opening all three simultaneously in MapWindow. MapWindow displayed the Global Mapper and MapWindow ones, but again the ESRI one failed. All three open fine simultaneously in both ArcMap and Global Mapper, but the addition of the MapWindow defined layer triggers a warning that it has a different geographic coordinate system than the other two.

A peek at the projection information illuminates that there is some inconsistency in how even the datum is described:

From MapWindow:

NAD83 / California zone 5 (ftUS)
Projection: Lambert_Conformal_Conic
false_easting: 6561666.667000
false_northing: 1640416.667000
central_meridian: -118.000000
standard_parallel_1: 35.466667
standard_parallel_2: 34.033333
latitude_of_origin: 33.500000

Linear Unit: US survey foot
NAD83Datum: North_American_Datum_1983

From ArcGIS:

Projection: Lambert_Conformal_Conic
False_Easting: 6561666.666667
False_Northing: 1640416.666667
Central_Meridian: -118.000000
Standard_Parallel_1: 34.033333
Standard_Parallel_2: 35.466667
Latitude_Of_Origin: 33.500000

Linear Unit: Foot_US
GCS_North_American_1983Datum: D_North_American_1983

From Global Mapper:

Projection: Lambert_Conformal_Conic
false_easting: 6561666.666667
false_northing: 1640416.666667
central_meridian: -118.000000
standard_parallel_1: 34.033333
standard_parallel_2: 35.466667
scale_factor: 1.000000
latitude_of_origin: 33.500000
Linear Unit: Foot_US

GCS_Geographic Coordinate System

Shouldn’t this kind of thing be standardized?