Making interactive maps for the web

Audience level:
March 8th 1:20 p.m. – 4:40 p.m.


This tutorial teaches students how to create beautiful, interactive maps for the web. When asked to display geodata, most developers decide to put some big red markers on an embeddable Google Map and call it a day. If you're interested in creating maps that are more beautiful, more interactive, and more usable, this tutorial is for you.



Build a light-weight version of Trulia's crime maps from scratch by the end of the tutorial, with a heatmap, source data points on the map, and a custom-styled base layer.

Prerequisite Knowledge

A solid understanding of Python, and very basic understanding of map concepts (like knowing what latitudes and longitudes are). A cursory run-through of the GeoDjango Introduction Tutorial would also be helpful.

Topics Covered

Cartography 101

  • What are map projections?
  • Map tiles, and how maps on the web work today
  • Formats for storing and transferring geodata
  • Where to find interesting geodata

PostgreSQL + PostGIS

  • How to store geodata
  • Datatypes
  • Geographies vs Geometries


  • Querying data with the ORM
  • Customizing the GeoDjango admin

Displaying the data

  • Creating and designing map tiles with TileStache
  • Customizing styles with Polymaps
  • Adding interactivity to maps
  • How to make geodata pretty