Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Visualising Geophylogenies in Web Maps Using GeoJSON

Fig3 GoogleMaps CC BY no logo 300x205I've published a short note on my work on geophylogenies and GeoJSON in PLoS Currents Tree of Life:

Page R. Visualising Geophylogenies in Web Maps Using GeoJSON. PLOS Currents Tree of Life. 2015 Jun 23 . Edition 1. doi:10.1371/currents.tol.8f3c6526c49b136b98ec28e00b570a1e.
At the time of writing the DOI hasn't registered, so the direct link is here. There is a GitHub repository for the manuscript and code.

I chose PLoS Currents Tree of Life because it is (supposedly) quick and cheap. Unfortunately a perfect storm of delays in reviewing together with licensing issues resulted in the paper taking nearly three months to appear. The licensing issues were a headache. PLoS uses the Creative Commons CC-BY license for all its content. Unfortunately, the original submission included maps from Google Maps and Open Street Map (OSM), to show that the GeoJSON produced by my tool could work with either. Google Maps tile imagery is not freely available, so I had to replace that in order for PLoS to be able to publish my figures. At first I used simply replaced the tiles Google Maps displays with ones from OSM, but those tiles are CC-BY-SA, which is incompatible with PLoS's use of CC-BY. Argh! I got stroppy about this on Twitter:

Eventually I discovered maps from CartoDB that have CC-BY licenses, and so could be used in the PLoS Currents article. After replacing Google's and OSM tiles with these maps (and trimming off the "Google" logo) the figures were acceptable to PLoS. Increasingly I think Creative Commons has resulted in a mess of mutually incompatible licenses that make mashing up things hard. The idea was great ("skip the intermediaries" by declaring that your content can be used), but the outcome is messy and frustrating.

But, enough grumbling. The article is out, the code is in GitHib. Now to think about how to use it.