Book Review - Web Mapping Illustrated by Tyler Mitchell
The ability to generate maps from your data has long been something pretty much restricted to companies with deep pockets. But Google seems to have sparked an interest in mapping software, and there are plenty of open source tools out there that will allow you to create your own Geographic Information Systems (GIS). O'Reilly's come out with a book that will be a "must have" if this is an interest of yours... Web Mapping Illustrated by Tyler Mitchell.
Contents: Introduction to Digital Mapping; Digital Mapping Tasks and Tools; Converting and Viewing Maps; Installing MapServer; Acquiring Map Data; Analyzing Map Data; Converting Map Data; Visualizing Mapping Data in a Desktop Program; Create and Edit Personal Map Data; Creating Static Maps; Publishing Interactive Maps on the Web; Accessing Maps Through Web Services; Managing a Spatial Database; Custom Programming with MapServer's MapScript; A Brief Introduction to Map Projections; MapServer Reference Guide for Vector Data Access; Index
There are a number of things I like about this book. For one, he shows how you can build systems that rival expensive GIS packages using ordinary open source software. His main focus is on MapServer, along with any other software out there that fills any necessary gaps. Using this book, you should be able to get MapServer up and running in your environment. The next thing that's good is that you can start to gain the understanding of the terminology of mapping technology. Above the normal techno-babble needed in order to work with any software system, mapping systems have their own jargon. Web Mapping Illustrated helps to educate you on that jargon within the context of working with the software. Finally, a departure from the normal O'Reilly "animal cover" books... This one's in color! Printing this in black and white would have ended up losing a lot of meaning and information in the examples. Seeing a hi-res full-color map of the Okanagan Mountain Park fire of a few years back really grabs your attention and makes you realize just what level of power you have available to you...
Even if you're using a commercial GIS in your job, you owe it to yourself to get a copy of this book and expand your horizons a bit. Or even map them out while you're at it... :-)