The Mapmaking Expedition is a Wikivoyage Expedition to organize and standardize the maps used in Wikivoyage.
The old dull saw says that a picture is worth a thousand words, but when a traveller is trying to find his way around a new city, it's more like a million. A clear and simple map can save hours or even days of hassle.
As with other parts of Wikivoyage, we think that having a coherent map policy will make each map in Wikivoyage more useful. Once a traveller has understood the symbols and conventions of one Wikivoyage map, they can quickly understand a new one.
The Mapmaking Expedition has the following goals:
- To define preferred map file formats
- To outline a map-making collaboration procedure
- To enumerate different types of maps
- To suggest guidelines for including maps in articles
- To create a common map image layout and symbol vocabulary
- To provide map templates for quickly making new maps
- To collect mapmaking resources, that is, software tools and information sources
- To understand map copyright issues and navigate them successfully
There are two major categories of image file formats: bitmap formats and vector formats. A bitmap format treats an image as a width-by-height array of pixels, each of which has a color. A vector format keeps information about individual parts of the image -- lines, shapes, text, etc. Vector formats tend to be best for computer-generated images -- like Wikivoyage maps. They're also much easier to use for collaborative development -- it's much easier to move a line, a symbol, or some text around in a vector format than in a bitmap format.
There are any number of good vector graphics file formats, and some that are pretty standard for cartography. No vector graphics format, however, is widely supported for Web use. For this reason, we need to maintain two versions of map images: a source version in vector file format, and an output version in a Web-standard bitmap format.
There is one file format that's making serious inroads for Web usage: Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). Because SVG provides an upward compatibility path to allow us to remove the source-output dichotomy, we prefer SVG as the source format for map files. In case SVG is not available, encapsulated PostScript (EPS) files are a secondary source format.
For on-screen and printed output of maps, the lossless compression of PNG files is preferable. PNG map files are sharp and don't have compression artifacts like JPEG files do.
In short: SVG for source, PNG for output. (Yes, it's a long-winded explanation just to come up with 6 words.)
There is no hard-and-fast rule but as a general guideline, try not to make your map image less than 2,000 pixels wide.
The preferred size of a single page output file (.png) for printing at Wikivoyage Press is 3008 x 1709 pixels.
A Wikivoyage mapmaker can and should create maps with whatever drawing tools they have available. When uploading a map, however, two files should be uploaded: the source version in SVG format, and the output version in PNG format. If the mapmaker's drawing tool doesn't support SVG as an output format, they should upload whatever source vector file format they can -- preferably Encapsulated PostScript, or (if necessary) Adobe Illustrator. Other Wikivoyagers with better tools can download the source file, convert it to SVG, and upload that.
The Image page for the output file should have a link to the source file.
Wikivoyagers editing an existing map really, really should work with the source SVG file if possible. After editing the file, they should produce an output PNG file, and upload both files to Wikivoyage.
Types of maps
There are several different types of maps that are useful to travellers. Among these are:
- City street maps. These are simplified maps of the main streets, landmarks, and other important parts of a city, as well as restaurants, bars, and other places listed in the Wikivoyage article for a city.
- District street maps and District maps. For large cities, it might be useful to split up city street maps into district street maps, and then use a city area map to show how major parts of the city relate to each other.
- Country or regional railway/road maps. This kind of map gives an overview of passenger railways, other public transport, and/or major roads and thoroughfares between cities or large travel sites.
- Site maps. These are maps of individual tourist destinations, like archeological or historical places (temple complexes, castles) or large museums.
- Dive sites are a new development for which there is no consensus policy yet (December 2009). See Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Pinnacle for an example of a dive site map which was accepted for a Star topic. Other alternatives may be as good or better for a given site.
- Region maps. These are maps of a country that show the Wikivoyage-defined regions of the country. There could also be region maps showing regions within a region. And so on. There is a specific Wikivoyage expedition for making region maps.
Other kinds of maps may be useful for Wikivoyage and we will try to list them here as we think of them.
One thing that will make our maps more uniform — and therefore easier to create, update, and use — is a library of common map symbols. We have a page with the common map symbols available.
The map symbols should all be SVG files. This makes it easier to incorporate them into maps.
When created, Wikivoyage maps will be released under a Creative Commons copyright license. This will mean that any map put on to Wikivoyage will be able to be used freely and possibly changed by a later contributor; this also means that all future derivative works will require the same license and proper attribution. Accordingly, most Wikivoyage maps will need to be sourced from either public domain sources or sources with a compatible copyright release.
Most map producers and suppliers will take strong exception to their work being copied. Although maps are usually copyrighted, the facts and ideas that maps represent are not subject to copyright laws. If you use an existing copyrighted map as a reference source to make your own maps, be sure that you only use it to extract location data. Your data should be compared to maps from other sources too, as some map makers draw their maps with imperfections, meaning that simply copying a map, even if just tracing it by hand, will also include those imperfections, allowing it to be shown to be a copyright violation.
At the scale most maps are drawn, even tiny lines represent broad brush strokes over the landscape. Commercial city street maps may overstate the size of roadways and most road maps will overstate a road size. If you are drawing a map it may be more appropriate to simplify and stylize the map rather than make it an exact reproduction of a landscape. This will also lessen the chance of being accused of a copyright violation. If more detail is needed, people can always purchase a detailed map.
See the Talk page for discussion on this issue.
Public domain map sources
- planiglobe - online map creation. Map generator with world coverage. Customized maps in Postscript and Illustrator versions (vector format) can be downloaded (cc-by-2.5 license). Locations and tracks can be added to a map.
- DEMIS World Map Server. Absolutely amazing online service for generating maps of any point on the globe in realtime. License: With this statement DEMIS BV grants you permission to freely copy the PNG images returned by our server and use them for your own purposes, including web pages. We would appreciate a reference to our server but such a reference is not required, nor do we take responsibility for the accuracy or quality of the maps.
- Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection at University of Texas. Most maps in the collection are public domain; copyrighted ones are clearly marked as such.
- The United States Census Bureau makes their TigerLine map data of the United States available to the public domain. Note that this is raw database information that needs to be manipulated a bit to be of use.
- The CIA "World Factbook" is public domain, but has mostly bitmapped maps at the country or continent level. There are quite a few maps on Wikivoyage from the factbook; see Project:CIA World Factbook 2002 import.
- http://www.nationalatlas.gov/ -- United States national atlas
- http://www.mapavivo.com.br -- Maps and Routs - Interactive map of South America (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru)
- http://www.nps.gov - The U.S. National Park Service has maps of its properties in various formats, including vector-based PDFs.
- http://www.dromoz.com/directory/maps/ - public domain static maps, down to street level.
- Inkscape. The main open source vector graphics editor. Produces excellent output in SVG, PNG, Postscript or EPS. This tool is available for Linux (and other Unix variants), Mac OS X, and Windows.
- Adobe Illustrator. A fairly expensive commercial application, widely used by graphic design professionals, imports and exports SVG. For Windows and Mac OS X only.
- CorelDRAW. Probably the leading commercial competitor to Adobe Illustrator and also widely used by graphic design professionals. Version 10 or newer can import and export SVG format files. SVG files produced by Coreldraw lose their layers, but are otherwise good conversions with no colour change or other unexpected variations when editing in Inkscape.
- h n . o r g triggers Wikivoyage's spam detector. I don't know why. So I will munge (#) it: http://phma.h#n.org/Software/azimap.html Azimap, by (WT-en) phma. Converts lat/long coordinate lists to SVG using the azimuthal equal area projection.
- QGIS. Can export shapefiles, but often makes a real mess of them, especially when multiple layers are involved. For single layer .e00 to .shp it seems to work OK. GPL'd and available for Windows and MacOS and linux.
- Simple online map editor - fast and simple output in .png format
Map making projects/articles/discussions
- Converting MapInfo .TAB File to SVG - tutorial article with other interesting links
- OneMap - Interesting project aims, although its underdeveloped at this stage. see also paper presented at SVGOpen
- Slashdot article about open maps
- Un point c'est tout - A wiki-like attempt to build a world mapping database with user contributed points and paths. Most of the site is in French, although the maps themselves are internationalized (you can edit the internationalization).
- Wikiatlas - project proposal on wikimedia meta-wiki
- OpenStreetMap - a crowdsourced world mapping project that is open data, licensed under the Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL), but the underlying cartography is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license (CC-BY-SA). They require you to use the credit “© OpenStreetMap contributors”.
- MapOSMatic - creates city maps (with index) from OpenStreetMap data.
- GISWiki on SVG & GIS
- Gis and Maps on Wikivoyage project
- Dromoz mapping project - Interesting project aims
Sources for latitude & longitude
There are a few Web sites that provide useful lat/long information.
- Wikipedia gives co-ordinates for most articles about places
- Multimap lets you search for cities in many countries and returns lat/long info (some problems with non ASCII chars in the names)
- The Getty Thesaurus of Names has lat/long info for most cities in its database
- The Global Gazetteer from Falling Rain Genomics, Inc. is another database that gives decimal geocode values for many place names around the world.
- Richard Cyganiak's FOAF mapper - find co-ordinates using Google Maps.
- http://geonames.org/ - Quick and thorough geocoding
- http://nominatim.openstreetmap.org/ - OSM reverse geocoding http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Nominatim