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We make a lot of maps at the Los Angeles Times. So we made this tool to help us make them faster. It uses Tangram, which was developed by Mapzen. They shut down in early 2018, but tiles are now hosted by Nextzen. The map uses Natural Earth and OpenStreetMap data to export an image or a vector file.


We need help making this tool better. If you find bugs, submit an issue. If you can improve our code, please send us a pull request.

Live preview

See that here.

Getting started

You don't need much to get up and running. Clone this repo and make a config.js file (we provided a template here). You'll also need to create a config.yaml file and leave it in the main directory.

A Bing API key isn't necessary to use the map maker; only for geocoding and location search. If you don't have a Bing key you can use coordinates in the location search box.

The gutter and columnWidth are the pixel equivelants for the Times' print 6-column layout.

You'll need a (for now) free Nextzen key. That key needs to be placed both in the config.js file and the config.yaml file.

Your config.js file should look like this:

var configOptions = {
    'bingAPI': 'Your API here',
    'attribution': 'Your Org name, ',
    'initCoords': [34.0425, -118.24],
    'initZoom': 14,
    'mapzen-api': 'nextzenKEYHERE',
    'columnWidth': 110.45,
    'gutterWidth': 12

Your config.yaml file should look like this:

    # Sign up for a Mapzen API key to enjoy higher rate limits
    sdk_mapzen_api_key: 'nextzenKEYHERE'

Then you're ready to run the mapmaker. The easiest way is to fire up a simple python server (obviously you'll need python) with this command:

python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8000

The app will be hosted at localhost:8000.

Vector files for print

Because we make maps for web and print, if you select a column size from the drop-down you'll get a map with the column-equivelant for our six-column layout. The vector paths exported from "download vector" can then be converted to CMYK.

You can then run the vector-map-restyle.jsx script in Adobe Illustrator to convert all the layers to values of CMYK. Watch a tutorial here.

Custom styling

Our fonts are large because our CMS squashes down graphics for the Web. And we've adapted map maker to the Times color pallete. You can customize just about anything. Edit or create your own styles yaml file and use Tangram Play to live edit a yaml file.

What you need to know

Because we've developed this as an internal tool for use at the Los Angeles Times, it's geared toward our use as far as styles and workflow. But it should be customizable and we're open to suggestions that would help make it better for others to use, too.

Chrome and Firefox are supported.

Make this better

Have any ideas? File an issue, fork this repo, send us a pull request or contact with thoughts, concerns or questions.


BrowserStack Logo

Thanks to BrowserStack for providing the infrastructure that allows us to test this project in real browsers.


Use Natural Earth and OpenStreetMap data to export an image or a vector file.







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