Community Health Maps has long recommended the use of CartoDB for those interested in low cost online mapping and data visualization. In fact, CHM caught the beginning of this wave because CartoDB wasn’t even launched until 2012!
Original CartoDB logo
Early last month (July 2016) CartoDB was rebranded as Carto, which includes a new logo. However, once you get beyond the new logo your current account page including your data and maps remains unchanged. You can still build maps the way you always have in what is now known as Carto Editor.
New Carto logo
The main difference is that Carto now offers up a new interface named Carto Builder. The good news for Community Health Mappers is that their goal with Carto Builder is to introduce an updated interface. One that still does not require complex geospatial skills and programming. With Carto Builder they aim to make Location Intelligence (LI) more accessible to more people. This means it will give you point and click access to deeper analysis of your data. Builder will have all the functionality currently found in Editor along with the new tools.
Eventually Carto Editor will be phased out and Carto Builder will be the interface everyone uses. You can request early access to Carto Builder here: http://go.carto.com/request-beta-access. New users of Carto will be given access the the Carto Builder in phases, over the next several months. All existing maps and data will be seamlessly migrated to the new interface. The following page answers Frequently Asked Questions about the migration from Editor to Builder: https://carto.com/docs/carto-builder/faqs/
Once the migration is complete I will post about the new functionality. Stay tuned!
There will be a webinar next week entitled: Extreme Heat and Health: Creating Environmental Intelligence Through Science, Predictions, and Engagement. The specific date and time are: April 28th, 2016 from 4 – 5:30pm EDT. This will likely be an interesting webinar for many Community Health Mappers! Click this link to learn more.
Satellite imagery of urban Atlanta shows the differences in daytime heating, as caused by the urban heat island effect. Surface temperatures range from 50 (blue) to 120+ degrees (white) Fahrenheit. Credit: NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio
This week the White House announced the Opportunity Project. It is an open data initiative geared towards empowering communities with data and tools to improve economic mobility. Open data is the data equivalent of open source software. It is licensed so that it is freely available to use by anyone.
The main page for the project can be found here: http://opportunity.census.gov/.
Opportunity Project Website
It includes links to sources of open data and online tools built on open data, ,many of them map based. This looks to be a great resource for Community Health Mappers!
Currently a new version of QGIS is released every four months! To help users deal with this rapid development pace, the version put out each spring is designated as a long-term release (LTR). This means it will be supported for one calendar year. After that, new stable versions continue to be posted quarterly and any bug fixes associated with those quarterly versions are applied to the LTR. The LTR is recommended for production environments. It has a slower release cycle, and receives regular bug fixes throughout the year. Monday February 29th QGIS 2.14, the next LTR was released. It is nicknamed ‘Essen’ after the town in Germany where a recent developer meeting was held.
Essen has a lot of new features. You can visit the Visual Changelog to read about all the new features in detail. You can also see who developed and sponsored each new feature. Community Health Mappers might be especially interested in these new features:
- the new 2.5 D renderer which allows you to extrude features into space.
Example of 2.5 D Rendering by Nicholas Duggan @ XYHT.com
- improved labeling
- better control over map elements in the Print Composer
- an improved Processing Toolbox
- the new widget you get by right clicking on a layer in the Layers Panel and choosing Style. It allows you to change the color for a symbol without having to open a single dialog box!
If you are using QGIS you should visit the download page and install the latest version! Note that the Mac installer takes a little longer to assemble and may not be available for several more days.
Today the next stable version of QGIS was released. It is being called QGIS version 2.8 ‘Wien‘. Wien is German for ‘Vienna‘ which was the host city for the QGIS developer meetings in 2009 and 2014.
QGIS 2.8 Splash Page
Recently a new version of QGIS has been released every four months. This rapid pace of development has its pros and cons. On the plus side, the software is rapidly growing and improving. On the con side it has made it difficult to maintain documentation. It has also been an issue for people working on large projects. They have had to deal with the software changing every four months.
QGIS 2.8 is a special release because it is the first in a series of long-term releases (LTR’s). The idea is that one release per year will be an LTR. This means that the LTR release will be supported and available for download for one year. This way people needing stability can use this until the next LTR is released a year from now.
Some of the highlights are:
- Numerous bug fixes and stability improvements
- QGIS Browser is more responsive
- Ability to select the units in the Measure tool
- Improvements to editing: better control of snapping and a new suite of Advanced Digitizing tools
- Improvements to the Map Composer such as better control over coordinate graticules and map rotation.
- Symbology improvements such as filling polygons with raster images, ability to have multiple styles per layer.
The detailed list of new features can be found here: http://www2.qgis.org/en/site/forusers/visualchangelog28/index.html
Visit the download page and take the new version for a spin. Remember you can install it on Windows, Mac and Linux!