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


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.

Seek-Optimized ZIP (SOZip)

Seek-Optimized ZIP, a new profile for ZIP files, allows random access and selective decompression. With standard ZIP files, you have to download and decompress the ZIP file before accessing its content. While fully compatible with standard ZIP tools, with SOZip, you can now selectively access files within a ZIP, so you won’t have to download the full archive if you want to access just one file.

Currently, there are two implementations for SOZip: It’s available in the development branch GDAL and as a Python module. MapServer (on the development branch) and QGIS, both applications depending on GDAL, support SOZip too.

Seek-Optimized ZIP file adds to a growing suite of cloud-native data formats and APIs, such as COGs, Zarr or GeoParquet, allowing developers and applications to access and process large selectively without the need to download complete datasets.

Related Links

Workflows, a new workflow builder introduced by Carto, allows people to build geo-data-processing workflows without writing code. It simplifies the creation of nested SQL queries. It provides means to import data from an external service or send the processing result via email.

The full extent of capabilities is pretty sparse at the moment. Workflows is currently in private beta; the public beta will be released in the “coming weeks.”

I previously posted a list of updates to Chris Whong, one of’s maintainers, pointed out on Twitter that most of the functionality I reported as new existed before the update. I have corrected the post based on Chris’ correction and the updated changelog.

The post was the result of sloppy work on my part. I know how to read a commit history, and I should have done that to verify my assumptions. Quietly Receives an Update

Christopher Beddow reported it first (at least in my timeline); the small-scale GeoJSON editor received an update after development had lied dormant for a while. 

There are no recent releases, the changelog hasn’t been updated in over four years, and the Mapbox blog is quiet on the topic. It’s hard to precisely summarise what has changed. But based on my memory of the feature set before the update, newly added features include the following:

  • Project the data using Mapbox’s recently released globe projection.
  • New base maps, including Outdoors, Light, and Dark styles.
  • Load XYZ tile layers from external sources.
  • Create a set of points, ideal if you want to quickly create an artificial dataset for testing.
  • Enhance existing geometries by automatically adding bounding boxes to each feature.
  • Import data from text and binary formats, including:
    • Encoded polylines
    • Well-know Binary (WKB)
    • Well-known Text (WKT)

Update: Chris Whong pointed out on Twitter that most of the functionality outlined above was already existing prior to last week’s update. Chris has also updated the changelog. I missed a couple of new features, including:

  • The underlying mapping library was upgraded to MapboxGL, which enables the globe projection.
  • Automatic formatting of GeoJSON when pasted.
  • Code-folding, ideal for working with long GeoJSON documents.

Martijn van Exel wrote a review of Every Door, the OpenStreetMap editor for mobile phones:

We had a lot of fun mapping with Every Door, and I think we were more productive adding and updating POIs than we could have been with any other app! There’s lots of little things that make your life easier. […] I would encourage anyone who likes to get out and survey to try it!! Huge thanks to Ilya for making Every Door available to the community.

I have reported on Every Door before; you should read Martin’s review for an opinion from someone who edits OpenStreetMap much more than I do.

QField, is an open-source app for collecting and managing geographic data in the field that integrates tightly with QGIS, the poster child of open-source desktop GIS. Until recently, the app was only available for Android phones, but since the release 2.4 you can also use it on iPhone devices.

We all love a bit of retro flair on our maps, don’t we? If you agree, then BellTopo Sans might be what you’re looking for. Designed by Sarah Bell, it’s a sans-serif typeface for map labels, inspired by old USGS maps:

When you see this typeface that I’m referring to on these old beautiful maps, you may think it is nothing special. It’s simple. It might even be very similar to a common font that you already know. Perhaps you’re thinking, “Why didn’t she use that font?” But for me, the beauty of this typeface that I see on old USGS maps exists within its subtle differences.

I like BellTopo Sans because, unlike many modern fonts, it is a little rough around the edges — it has character. Look at that upper-case R and that lower-case g; just look at them.

The words 'Thüringen', 'Thüringer Wald', and 'Grosser Inselsberg (916m) displayed using different variations of the font BellTopo Sans.

BellTopo Sans works best in medium font sizes and with a bit of character spacing.

JSON documents can be challenging to read, especially GeoJSON, with complex geometries and many feature properties. JSONCrack visualises JSON documents in a graph, making them easier to parse visually and to understand their structure and content.

GeoJSON features as visualised by JSONCrack. It shows the properties object, and the geometry object further broken down into type and coordinates.
GeoJSON features visualised in a graph using JSONCrack.

JSONCrack works best with small(ish) files. I initially tested with a 17.7MB GeoJSON file that contains about 16,000 records. While it parses and formats the file without issues, it can’t produce the visualisation. Only at about 500 records did JSONCrack render the visual representation.

Headway, a Batteries-Included Geocoding and Routing Stack

Instead of using an established navigation service and handing over details about where you’re going, how about running the infrastructure required for routing and navigation on a server you control so you know where your location data is going.

That’s the idea behind Headway, a batteries-included software stack including a front-end application, basemap, geocoder and routing engine. With just a few commands, You can spin up a Headway instance on your local machine within minutes. You can build Headway using data from over 200 preconfigured metropolitan areas, a custom OpenStreetMap extract, or the whole planet.

Headway bundles many well-known open-source software, such as MapLibre for its map client, Pelias for geocoding, Valhalla for routing, Planetiler to prepare vector tiles from OpenStreetMap, and many more.

For most people, even the nerdy folks out there, running and maintaining a personal Headway instance for your navigation needs is still likely too much effort and cost. But for anyone trying to build a business that needs navigation, Headway is a fantastic starting point to make a product.

To test Headway without lifting a finger, you can try instance.

Nick Herr, usually writing about Apple-related topics, writes about What3Words:

But I stumbled across this amazing catalogue of how What3Words is insufficient for emergency use. This comes by way of a Twitter thread where the queue to see Queen Elizabeth’s coffin has apparently stretched as far away as North Carolina and California.

Apparently, four of the seven locations announced until yesterday afternoon were incorrect because of minor typos.

What3Words isn’t fit for purpose, not for any purpose, really. The more people realise this, the better, especially the ones outside the usual geo crowd.

Every Door Simplifies Point-of-Interest Mapping for OpenStreetMap

I only occasionally contribute to OpenStreetMap, mainly from the comfort of my desk and rarely on the go. I almost exclusively add and edit Points of Interest when I’m out. I used Go Map!! before, but it didn’t stick. In dense areas like central London, too many features are displayed in the editor. You see points for traffic lights, intersections, crossings, bins, and shops – all at once. Understanding what features exist or need to be added often requires clicking individual points to identify what they are.

Every Door is a new mobile OpenStreetMap editor, built by Ilja Zverev and available for iOS and Android. And it takes a different approach to edit OSM on a mobile phone.

Every Door focuses on fewer things at a time. You edit amenities, street furniture or building entrances and house numbers — but never all at the same time. You pick one group, see what’s already mapped around you and can only edit and add the same feature types. And instead of showing you all of the existing features in the current map view, it downloads just a few closest to your current location. Every Door nicely caters to the way many mappers edit OpenStreetMap. They focus on one goal at a time, say to map all the rubbish bins in a park, and then just work on that until they’re done. And they map the objects closest in proximity.

Screenshot of the Every-Door interface, showing a map on top with features for editing and corrsponding information on the features below.
Every Door shows only a small number of OpenStreetMap data in close proximity available for editing.

A few well-designed features make editing points of interest a breeze. Entering opening hours is a pain in iD, but it’s straightforward in Every Door thanks to a neat interface to select days and times, which doesn’t require composing a long string, hoping it matches the pattern OSM expects. Every Door also caches selected tags for feature types so I can quickly whizz through a park and map all benches that look the same and share the same attributes. All it takes is a brief stop next to one to get a decent GPS signal.

The interface could be more polished, and some interactions aren’t intuitive. But Every Door is a cross-OS app built by one person, presumably in their spare time. I won’t expect this to look like a boutique iOS app that costs 75$ a year. Every Door is a nice app, which takes away much of the complexity of editing OpenStreetMap on the go.