Mapping Hacks


Since the dawn of creation, man has designed maps to help identify the space that we occupy. From Lewis and Clark's pencil-sketched maps of mountain trails to Jacques Cousteau's sophisticated charts of the ocean floor, creating maps of the utmost precision has been a constant pursuit. So why should things change now? Well, they shouldn't. The reality is that map creation, or "cartography," has only improved in its ease-of-use over time. In fact, with the recent explosion of inexpensive computing and the growing ...

See more details below
Paperback (1st Edition)
$26.84 price
(Save 10%)$29.95 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (37) from $1.99   
  • New (7) from $16.76   
  • Used (30) from $1.99   
Sending request ...


Since the dawn of creation, man has designed maps to help identify the space that we occupy. From Lewis and Clark's pencil-sketched maps of mountain trails to Jacques Cousteau's sophisticated charts of the ocean floor, creating maps of the utmost precision has been a constant pursuit. So why should things change now? Well, they shouldn't. The reality is that map creation, or "cartography," has only improved in its ease-of-use over time. In fact, with the recent explosion of inexpensive computing and the growing availability of public mapping data, mapmaking today extends all the way to the ordinary PC user.Mapping Hacks, the latest page-turner from O'Reilly Press, tackles this notion head on. It's a collection of one hundred simple—and mostly free—techniques available to developers and power users who want draw digital maps or otherwise visualize geographic data. Authors Schuyler Erle, Rich Gibson, and Jo Walsh do more than just illuminate the basic concepts of location and cartography, they walk you through the process one step at a time.Mapping Hacks shows you where to find the best sources of geographic data, and then how to integrate that data into your own map. But that's just an appetizer. This comprehensive resource also shows you how to interpret and manipulate unwieldy cartography data, as well as how to incorporate personal photo galleries into your maps. It even provides practical uses for GPS (Global Positioning System) devices—those touch-of-a-button street maps integrated into cars and mobile phones. Just imagine: If Captain Kidd had this technology, we'd all know where to find his buried treasure!With all of these industrial-strength tips and tools, Mapping Hacks effectively takes the sting out of the digital mapmaking and navigational process. Now you can create your own maps for business, pleasure, or entertainment—without ever having to sharpen a single pencil.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780596007034
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 568
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Schuyler Erle was born in a small paper bag in Philadelphia, and then again five days later in Baltimore. As a youth, he had to get up every morning two hours before he went to bed in order to walk fifteen miles uphill to school, and then another seventeen miles uphill to get home in the evening. After many years of some nonsense involving Karnaugh maps, a botched attempt at a Red Cross sailing certificate, and the early works of Chomsky, Schuyler was finally and at long last sent packing with something his mentors found at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box. Later, after a tragic accident that left him nearly completely lacking in common sense, he served brief stints on Phobos and Ganymede with the Space Patrol, before returning to study n-dimensional unicycle frisbee golf at a yak herding collective in Miami. Somewhere along the line he made the grave error of attempting to implement a full-scale multi-user web application using a combination of tcsh, awk, and sed, which lead him straight into the arms of O'Reilly & Associates, first as a reader, and then as an author and humble developer. Four years & fifty thousand miles later, we present him in his full and unabridged form, where he hacks Perl behind the scenes at the O'Reilly Network, does on-site technical support for ORA's fine conferences team, is involved in a variety of database and production development projects across the company, and still manages to write and give conference talks for ORA from time to time.

Rich Gibson is a Perl/Database programmer in Santa Rosa. He has worked professionally with computers since 1982 when he created Public Utility Rate Case Models in SuperCalc on an Osborne II. His current fascination is creating tools to aid in the acquisition, management, and presentation of information with a geographic component. He is currently converting an old golf cart into a mobile geo annotation platform.Rich is active with the NoCat Community Network in Sebastopol, California, and is the primary developer of NoCat Maps (

Jo Walsh is a freelance hacker and software artist who started out building web systems for the Guardian, the ICA and state51 in London. She now works with the semantic web, spatial annotation and bots.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

About the Authors;
Why Mapping Hacks?;
Maps Tell Stories;
Location: It's Everywhere;
Never Be Lost Again (Even if You'd Rather Be);
Towards a Semantic (Geo)web;
Locative Media as a Two-Way Street;
Brother, Can You Spare a Polygon Layer?;
A Geoscope in Every Home;
The Adventure Continues . . .;
How to Use This Book;
How This Book Is Organized;
Conventions Used in This Book;
Using Code Examples;
How to Contact Us;
Got a Hack?;
Chapter 1: Mapping Your Life;
1.1 Hacks 1-13;
1 Put a Map on It: Mapping Arbitrary Locations with Online Services;
2 Route Planning Online;
3 Map the Places You've Visited;
4 Find Your House on an Aerial Photograph;
5 The Road Less Traveled by in MapQuest;
6 Make Route Maps Easier to Read;
7 Will the Kids Barf?;
8 Publish Maps of Your Photos on the Web;
9 Track the Friendly Skies with Sherlock;
10 Georeference Digital Photos;
11 How Far? How Fast? Geo-Enabling Your Spreadsheet;
12 Create a Distance Grid in Excel;
13 Add Maps to Excel Spreadsheets with MapPoint;
Chapter 2: Mapping Your Neighborhood;
2.1 Hacks 14-21;
14 Make Free Maps of the United States Online;
15 Zoom Right In on Your Neighborhood;
16 Who Are the Neighbors Voting For?;
17 Map Nearby Wi-Fi Hotspots;
18 Why You Can't Watch Broadcast TV;
19 Analyze Elevation Profiles for Wireless Community Networks;
20 Make 3-D Raytraced Terrain Models;
21 Map Health Code Violations with RDFMapper;
Chapter 3: Mapping Your World;
3.1 Hacks 22-34;
22 Digging to China;
23 Explore David Rumsey's Historical Maps;
24 Explore a 3-D Model of the Entire World;
25 Work with Multiple Lat/Long Formats;
26 Work with Different Coordinate Systems;
27 Calculate the Distance Between Points on the Earth's Surface;
28 Experiment with Different Cartographic Projections;
29 Plot Arbitrary Points on a World Map;
30 Plot a Great Circle on a Flat Map;
31 Plot Dymaxion Maps in Perl;
32 Hack on Base Maps in Your Favorite Image Editor;
33 Georeference an Arbitrary Tourist Map;
34 Map Other Planets;
Chapter 4: Mapping (on) the Web;
4.1 Hacks 35-46;
35 Search Local, Find Global;
36 Shorten Online Map URLs;
37 Tweak the Look and Feel of Web Maps;
38 Add Location to Weblogs and RSS Feeds;
39 View Your Photo Thumbnails on a Flash Map;
40 Plot Points on a Spinning Globe Applet;
41 Plot Points on an Interactive Map Using DHTML;
42 Map Your Tracklogs on the Web;
43 Map Earthquakes in (Nearly) Real Time;
44 Plot Statistics Against Shapes;
45 Extract a Spatial Model from Wikipedia;
46 Map Global Weather Conditions;
Chapter 5: Mapping with Gadgets;
5.1 Hacks 47-63;
5.2 How GPS Works;
47 Get Maps on Your Mobile Phone;
48 Accessorize Your GPS;
49 Get Your Tracklogs in Windows or Linux;
50 The Serial Port to USB Conundrum;
51 Speak in Geotongues: GPSBabel to the Rescue;
52 Show Your Waypoints on Aerial Photos with Terrabrowser;
53 Visualize Your Tracks in Three Dimensions;
54 Create Your Own Maps for a Garmin GPS;
55 Use Your Track Memory as a GPS Base Map;
56 Animate Your Tracklogs;
57 Connect to Your GPS from Multiple Applications;
58 Don't Lose Your Tracklogs!;
59 Geocode Your Voice Recordings and Other Media;
60 Improve the Accuracy of Your GPS with Differential GPS;
61 Build a Map of Local GSM Cells;
62 Build a Car Computer;
63 Build Your Own Car Navigation System with GpsDrive;
Chapter 6: Mapping on Your Desktop;
6.1 Hacks 64-77;
64 Mapping Local Areas of Interest with Quantum GIS;
65 Extract Data from Maps with Manifold;
66 Java-Based Desktop Mapping with Openmap;
67 Seamless Data Download from the USGS;
68 Convert Geospatial Data Between Different Formats;
69 Find Your Way Around GRASS;
70 Import Your GPS Waypoints and Tracklogs into GRASS;
71 Turn Your Tracklogs into ESRI Shapefiles;
72 Add Relief to Your Topographic Maps;
73 Make Your Own Contour Maps;
74 Plot Wireless Network Viewsheds with GRASS;
75 Share Your GRASS Maps with the World;
76 Explore the Effects of Global Warming;
6.15 Conclusion;
77 Become a GRASS Ninja;
Chapter 7: Names and Places;
7.1 Hacks 78-86;
78 What to Do if Your Government Is Hoarding Geographic Data;
79 Geocode a U.S. Street Address;
80 Automatically Geocode U.S. Addresses;
81 Clean Up U.S. Addresses;
82 Find Nearby Things Using U.S. ZIP Codes;
83 Map Numerical Data the Easy Way;
84 Build a Free World Gazetteer;
85 Geocode U.S. Locations with the GNIS;
86 Track a Package Across the U.S.;
Chapter 8: Building the Geospatial Web;
8.1 Hacks 87-92;
87 Build a Spatially Indexed Data Store;
88 Load Your Waypoints into a Spatial Database;
89 Publish Your Geodata to the Web with GeoServer;
90 Crawl the Geospatial Web with RedSpider;
91 Build Interactive Web-Based Map Applications;
92 Map Wardriving (and other!) Data with MapServer;
Chapter 9: Mapping with Other People;
9.1 Hacks 93-100;
93 Node Runner;
94 Geo-Warchalking with 2-D Barcodes;
95 Model Interactive Spaces;
96 Share Geo-Photos on the Web;
97 Set Up an OpenGuide for Your Hometown;
98 Give Your Great-Great-Grandfather a GPS;
99 Map Your Friend-of-a-Friend Network;
100 Map Imaginary Places;

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2005

    Tons of mapping tips and ideas

    I really like to look at maps. Perhaps that makes me kind of a geek. Maps can help people understand experiences (like vacations), cultures, and can even help in decision making. Maps are just neat. This book (at over 500 pages!) contained tips and ideas on everything I ever thought about doing with maps, and then some! This book covers so many mapping topics, it¿s amazing. From tools and techniques for determining the shortest route between two points, to labeling your photographs with GPS information, to building a ¿neverlost¿ for your car, to building maps to help in decision making. The book really contains a little for everyone: from basic information to understand cartography, to using your GPS device to show where on the planet you¿ve been. O¿Reilly did a really nice job with the printing of this book, as the whole thing is in color. For mapping applications, that¿s a necessity, and made this book stand above some of the others in this category. Additionally, the author does a really good job appealing to a wide audience and making many of the hacks interesting to as many types of people as possible. I have read some complaints that this book was printed before the Google Maps API became available, but that¿s certainly something that can be covered in the second edition. This is a great book for the mapping hobbyist. The book contains a lot of great ideas, tips, and information on tools to really make the most of creating and using maps in your life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2005

    wide audience

    If you are old enough, geography brings to mind globes and large musty maps from the schoolrooms you attended. But there has been a huge qualitative change in geography. Quite appropriate, perhaps, as we are now in the 21st century. This book describes what can happen when you have GIS available. It sits squarely at the intersection of computer programming and geography. Intensely and inherently visual. Granted, most of the hacks involve a modicum of programming. But typically the output is a map of some kind. Which broadens the appeal of the hack, because the visuals can often be interpreted and used by a wide audience. Whereas, in many other O'Reilly Hacks books, a hack might be very specialised. You may want to pay especial attention to the hacks involving GRASS. This is a huge geographic analysis package that is perhaps the analog of Oracle or DB2 in databases. The hacks can be used as a learning device, to get familiar with GRASS. This is not really for the person casually interested in some simple geographic hack. But for someone who wants to do serious geographic analysis.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)