- Paperback: 568 pages
- Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (June 19, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0596007035
- ISBN-13: 978-0596007034
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,255,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mapping Hacks: Tips & Tools for Electronic Cartography 1st Edition
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About 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 (http://maps.nocat.net/).
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.
Top customer reviews
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It's cut into bite-sized pieces, and the bites are tasty and well chosen. The topics cover a broad range of material, from cool web sites I'd never have otherwise found to propeller-head "get under the hood and have some fun" stuff that you'd be hard pressed to find covered in a half-dozen other books.
This is definitely worth a look -- I'm going to keep this for years, and I KNOW I'll be using it for a long time.
- As someone else mentions, the book is heavily, albeit not exclusively, skewed towards Unix applications. Given that only 3% of desktops currently run Unix (6% if you're generous and include MacOS X), this immediately raises an accessibility barrier for those unfamiliar with the intricacies of Unix, and an unfamiliarity with Perl, Python, and shells. There are many Windows mapping applications that do much of what is described in this book far more easily and accessibly than the Unix-oriented solutions presented.
- Critical topics are defined incompletely and haphazardly. For example, while shapefiles are mentioned in several places early on, the first even barely-adequate definition comes several hundred pages into the text. Datums are covered very poorly, and given their importance in real-life applications, that's simply not acceptable.
- A significant fraction of the book is handed over to a discussion of different kinds of projections, and programs that will display them. While interesting, the fact is that most of the useful information about projections can be gotten from the text, or from a website that discusses projections; the "hacks" are essentially superfluous. I'm also disturbed by the amount of space given to projections vs. datums. In my experience, more people run into mapping issues with datums (e.g. using GPS units in WGS84, and wondering why they don't match up with topo maps in NAD27) than they do with projections.
- A huge chunk of the book is taken up GRASS. GRASS is very powerful, and as much fun to learn and use as sticking red-hot knitting needles into your eyes. Most of the problems that GRASS is used to solve in the book could far more easily be solved either with other freeware programs, or with Manifold GIS if you've got the money. For that matter, other difficult-to-use programs are employed to solve tasks that could be done more easily with other programs (e.g. SPLAT! is cited instead of the superior MicroDEM or RadioMobile for broadcast coverage; POV-Ray for 3-D models instead of 3DEM/Landserf/MicroDEM/Wissenbach3D; GRASS for map texturing instead of 3DEM or MicroDEM; PERL for spatial data analysis instead of GeoDA/STARS/PASSAGE; and so on). You could spend huge amounts of time becoming a "GRASS Ninja", as the book suggests, or you could spend less time and get more done using other software that's far easier to use.
- Sloppy terminology. For example, "Georeferencing" is used to refer to both linking digital photos to the location they were taken (should be "geotagging"), as well as its normal use in cartography, associating geographic coordinates with raster or vector features. And a GeoTIFF is not a Tiff with a world file, it's a Tiff with the georeferencing information embedded in it.
- A book of "hacks" should contain complete, self-contained hacks, and any number of hacks in this book don't fulfill this requirement. For example, the hacks on WMS/WFS, PostGIS, and building your own car computer/navigation system are either incomplete or hopelessly inadequate in giving you the information you need to implement them.
- Many of the hacks have been superseded by recent developments, like Google Maps/Earth, and the APIs from Yahoo and MSNLocal. This clearly isn't the authors' fault, but it does lessen the overall value of the book.
I could go on, but you get the idea. I have no idea of who the authors and publisher believe is the intended audience for the book, but unless you've got both a strong cartographic background and a strong Unix background, most of these hacks will be beyond you. And if you are strong in cartography and Unix, few of these hacks are even worth bothering with, since you'll most likely either know them, or know a better way to get them done. There are a few nuggets of useful information, primarily in the GPS section, but for most people, this book simply isn't worth the money.
Addendum (7/3/2011): The book is also now hopelessly out of date.
Contents: Mapping Your Life; Mapping Your Neighborhood; Mapping Your World; Mapping (on) the Web; Mapping with Gadgets; Mapping on Your Desktop; Names and Places; Building the Geospatial Web; Mapping with Other People; Index
What's nice about this book is that it's not all about installing some large mapping software package and then learning how to use it. Mapping Hacks covers a wide array of mapping techniques, tricks, and hacks that can be used by anyone willing to sit down and try things out. For instance, the first hack (#1 - Put a Map on It) shows you how to use the online mapping services and how to hack together a URL to add mapping to your website. Ever wondered how those driving direction sites work? Hack #2 - Route Planning Online - sheds light on that one. They even go so far as to cater to the ultra-geek and explain how to build a car navigation system that "will consume all your time and money, but make you the envy of all your nerd friends". Gotta love it...
Like O'Reilly's other mapping book, this is printed in color, so you get a lot of information from the context of the figures and graphics. Nicely done. The book is also larger than a normal Hacks title. There's the standard 100 entries, but there's around 525 pages to it. You get a lot of detail on some of the more complex hacks, which in my opinion adds a lot of value to the book.
A perfect book for those looking to get their feet wet on the subject, as well as for those who are more experienced but want to learn a few new tricks. Very nicely done...