Start small. Stay flexible. That’s the mantra coming out of recent smart city initiatives in Pittsburgh and Boston. To which we…
Introducing the new Map tab & the Geoclustering API
For some time now, our R&D team has been hard at work, silently preparing in the shadows many new things that will be unveiled this month. If you are an OpenDataSoft customer, you will see new features blossom everywhere in the coming weeks.
Our first December gift is our new “Map” tab in our Explore interface, together with the unveiling of our Geoclustering API.
The new “Map” tab
Datasets with any number of points (up to millions) can now be explored on the Map visualization, using a scalable and efficient server-side clustering. Everything is done on the server, so smartphones and low-end netbooks will have no problem displaying for example these 240.000 POI from OpenStreetMap and navigating through them, unlike most other clustering solutions. This is automatically done for every geo-based datasets with no additional work from the publisher, like all the other available visualizations on our platform.
We are especially proud of this feature, because it finally opens up easy exploration for large datasets that were traditionally hard to expose in a friendly manner to everyone.
Another problem that often occurs in large datasets is the stacking of several points in the same place: usually you have to click the exact right pixel of the shadow of the fifth stacked pin in order to pop the right window… We are introducing a tooltip that allows to scroll through all the points stacked in the same place.
Until now, our tiles were relying on MapQuest’s Open Tiles servers, a free service provided to the community by MapQuest, based on OpenStreetMap data. While we are still providing these free tiles by default, we now support additional providers, including MapBox (and their gorgeous satellite view). If you own a MapBox account, we can plug into it; if you don’t but would like to use it, you can contact us for more information. If you want to use another provider, you can also contact us, as in many cases we may very well be able to easily integrate it for you.
Now that we can display beautiful maps with quick and relevant clusters to navigate into, it is perfectly natural to want to immerse into it; I know I do, feeling like Superman flying over big red circles with numbers in them… For you, immersive map lovers, we added a FullScreen mode (using leaflet.fullscreen from brunob). It works especially well on a smartphone screen or a tablet.
Introducing our new Geoclustering API
This is a long time project of us, and it has been done with the help of our backend intern, Antoine: we are very proud to introduce our Geoclustering API!
This API is the backend of our new “Map” tab, and it will power many impressive things later this month, but for now we will focus on the first service it provides: regrouping of points in polygon-shaped clusters.
Like all our APIs, it has been designed with developers in mind (namely, our own front-end developers at first), and therefore comes with a lot of cool things that could make it the first clustering API you will be happy to deal with: you just need to give it your current map viewport and current zoom level, and it will directly provide the right clusters with the right granularity. It so happens that the zoom level understood by the API is on the same scale as Leaflet’s zoom scale, so it is extremely straightforward to implement on most maps on the Web.
The API returns a list of clusters (a center, a cluster shape as a GeoJSON, and the number of points it contains), together with the total number of points contained by all the clusters, so that you can calculate ratios to make visual effects reflect how “heavy” your cluster is in relation to the others.
It is really fast, as you can see by navigating on a map that uses it. Of course it also supports all the usual filter parameters of every OpenDataSoft API, so it perfectly integrates in the context of an application built on those.
There is no test console or documentation for now (it is coming very soon), but you can always pop the “Network” tab of your browsers while using the “Map” tab if you want to see it in action; or directly contact us.
We are very excited to show you the other things this API will do, but for now you will have to wait a few days.
All these features are available for everyone to use in our public portal, and if you already are an OpenDataSoft customer, then your domain already has all of this; as usual, feel free to contact us if you need more information or a quick hands-on together.
For now, we will let you swim in an ocean of geographical data. Stay tuned for many more things coming very soon!