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So far, Placemark, a bootstrapped one-person project, was only available for paying customers. Now Tom released a free tier, Placemark Play, which provides the same user interface and similar features as the paid tier. The main difference to the paid tier is that Placemark won’t save your data; once your browser session ends, your data is gone.

Without data storage, Placemark Play can be compared to, which handles data persistence similarly, although offers to restore data from the last session. Placemark, however, provides a slicker user interface and more advanced geometry operations (buffers, simplification, convex hulls), imports and exports from and to various geospatial data formats, and design and export map styles for MapboxGL and Leaflet.

Placemark Play is a great option for quick data visualisation and advanced editing, when you need a little more capabilities than

Rebecca Bellan and Ingrid Lunden, reporting for TechCrunch:

Last month, when transportation startup Via raised $110 million at a $3.5 billion valuation, CEO Daniel Ramot said it planned to make acquisitions to grow its transportation technology stack. Now, a piece of that strategy is falling into place: today the company is announcing its acquisition of Citymapper, the London startup that produces a popular urban mapping app.

I always loved Citymapper. When it came out, it offered a better experience for public-transport routing than Google Maps. I remember moving to London, and Citymapper was a lifesaver; I could not imagine how anyone would navigate the city without it.

But then, I never understood how they were making money—if any. Citymapper offers memberships, which enable additional routing modes, but I don’t think bus-only routing convinces many people to pay for the service. They also sold public-transport passes in London at discounted rates and, more recently, the app’s free tier contained ads. This acquisition is about talent and technology rather than removing a competitor from the field.

AWS is extending Amazon Location Service, their range of geospatial products, with “Open Data Maps”. It offers four base maps developers can use as background maps in their applications: A light and dark standard map, plus a light and dark monochrome design as a background for data visualisations. The maps were designed by Stamen and are mainly based on OpenStreetMap data via Daylight.

Open Data Maps will be a serious option for organisations with high usage, which serve more than 200,000 tiles each month. The pricing for map tiles is quite competitive and lower than that of similar products from Mapbox or MapTiler.

Number of tiles served AWS Mapbox MapTiler
100,000 $3.50 $0.00 $0.00
200,000 $7.00 $0.00 $25.00
300,000 $10.50 $25.00 $25.00
500,000 $17.50 $75.00 $25.00
1,000,000 $35.00 $200.00 $75.00

After OSMCha, OpenStreetMap US now also supports MapRoulette as a Charter Project.

MapRoulette is a vital tool within the broader OpenStreetMap ecosystem, guiding mappers to areas needing contributions.

MapRoulette serves the mapping community as a user-friendly tool for systematic improvement of completeness, quality and accuracy of map data. Mappers from over 70 countries review more than 40,000 tasks a month. More than 330,000 changesets in 2022 alone can be directly attributed to MapRoulette.

With Charter Projects, OpenStreetMap US aims to ensure long-term stewardship of critical open-source tools for OpenStreetMap. It provides projects with a home and the ability to raise funds for further development. v8.9 introduces interesting new features:

  • OGC Web Map Service (WMS) layers (Yes, they still exist),
  • A terrain extension allows developers to render 2D data on a 3D surface, and
  • Collision filters, hiding overlapping features and resulting in cleaner visualisation of dense data. doesn’t get much recognition, but it looks like a serious web-mapping toolkit.

The market for open-source web-map libraries is getting crowded again. Some classic libraries are still around: OpenLayers, Leaflet, and MapboxGL (technically not open-source). With MapLibre, Gleo, and, some promising new implementations are on the rise. Technology-wise, map front-ends have stalled in the last couple of years. I hope this newfound competition results in advancements in the field.


Mapstack, launched this week, aims to become a central catalogue for open data, a place where you discover and access datasets to fulfil your geo-data needs:

mapstack will do for open map data what GitHub did for open source, by bringing all of the world’s open maps together in one place and making them easy to discover, easy to access and easy to use.

Most of Mapstack’s functionality is currently centred around creating datasets and providing appropriate descriptions for the data. Setting up a new map involves several steps, including creating a new workspace or team, adding members, and providing a description.

Then you proceed to create the actual dataset. Upload your data, currently limited to GeoJSON and files smaller than 50MB. Then select the fields to keep and provide human-readable names. A downside is that you can’t skip this step. You have to go through each chosen field and individually confirm the label. To finalise, provide more information about the nature of the data, its geographic area, and the feature type, which creates an editable name for your new dataset.

That’s a lot of steps before you can view your dataset for the first time. Much of the information can be done after the project is set up. With the goal of discoverability in mind, however, and considering how badly many datasets are missing meta-data, you could say it’s smart design to force users to provide context.

Once the map is created, the features are limited: You can browse the data, view the attribute of features, and apply filters. There’s an attribute table, which is only available for filtered results, but not for the unfiltered data. Mapstack focuses on hosting data and making the data discoverable rather than on interacting, editing or visualising data.

As such, Mapstack is not a competitor of Felt or Placemark, two products released last year that aim to modernise how we do GIS on the Web. Mapstack complements both, and GIS tooling in general, by providing the data for the tools.

Will it take off? I’m not sure. The marketing copy draws comparisons to GitHub, but there are differences. GitHub became successful because it built on a protocol that developers already used and provided a product for collaboration around the protocol. GitHub added value to the developer’s daily work, so a lot of code ended up on the platform.

Mapstack doesn’t tie in with existing tools. Currently, there is no tooling to create or manage data, collaborate or visualise the data. It’s a place where the result of data processing might be hosted. Open data providers have invested in the infrastructure to host data—it’ll be hard to convince them to migrate to Mapstack instead.

Geospatial Projects at Google Summer of Code 2023

The mentor organisations for this year’s Google Summer of Code have been announced. Amongst other open-source household names, Google Summer of Code 2023 features various organisations and projects from the geospatial world, including:

Google Summer of Code is an internship program which pays aspiring software developers to contribute to open-source projects for three months during the summer. The application phase for this year’s cohort of interns opens on 20 March and closes on 4 April.

Say what you want about Google, but you have to appreciate their ongoing commitment to open-source software and their efforts to connect young programmers with projects.

For a recent story, instead of Mapbox, The Post used OpenMapTiles, Maputnik, PMTiles, and MapLibre to produce interactive web maps.

Kevin Schaul:

For some projects, I’m sure we’ll continue using Mapbox. But for most of our use cases, we don’t need the latest and greatest. And Mapbox has gotten expensive.

Planet has published a library of React components to build map user interfaces using OpenLayers:

The @planet/maps library provides components for rendering maps in your React applications. The library acts as a wrapper around OpenLayers, transforming the imperative API into declarative components.

The design goals:

The purpose of this project is to provide a mapping between React’s declarative components and OpenLayers’ imperative API. In other words, this project provides a React renderer for OpenLayers.


  • Components exported by this package map 1:1 with classes exported by OpenLayers.
  • Component props map directly to properties that are settable on instances of OpenLayers classes. Exceptions to this are props like options (passed to the constructor only), listener props (e.g. onChange), and ref.
  • Components accept a ref that provide access to the underlying OpenLayers instance.

The examples only show a small fraction of the whole feature set of the library. I looked through the source code on GitHub, and it seems like many—if not all—OpenLayers classes have a corresponding React component in the library.

Circles are only supported in a few geo-data formats because most of today’s formats are based on the Simple Features specification, which doesn’t define circles.

Tom MacWright, writing on the Placemark blog, explores why circles are so hard to implement into geo-data applications and why Placemark ended up with three circle definitions: geodesic, degree and Mercator circles.

Tom MacWright, after joining, reflects on building Placemark. It’s an honest account of what it’s like to build and grow a business—something we don’t see very often.

Placemark will live, but in what form isn’t entirely clear:

I’ve envisioned it as a tool that you can use for simple things but can grow into a tool you use professionally or semi-professionally, but maybe that’s not the future: the future is Canva, not Illustrator.

I’ve been wondering how the announcement of Felt, which happened around the same time as Placemark’s, would affect Placemark’s future. Felt has venture capital, a team of smart people, and a lot of buzz, whilst Placemark is a bootstrapped one-man show.

Fiona, the Python library for reading and writing features from and to various data sources, has a new release. From the release notes:

The major new features are:

  • A new CRS class identical to Rasterio’s.
  • New Feature and Geometry classes. These are returned instead of dicts but are compatible with version 1.8’s dicts. _ Access to format driver metadata.

Wheels of the new release are also available for M1 Macs now.