Geospatial database for the cloud
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What is CartoDB?

CartoDB is an open source tool that allows for the storage and visualization of geospatial data on the web.

It was built to make it easier for people to tell their stories by providing them with flexible and intuitive ways to create maps and design geospatial applications. CartoDB can be installed on your own server and we also offer a hosted service at

If you would like to see some live demos, check out our videos on Vimeo. We hope you like it!

What can I do with CartoDB?

With CartoDB, you can upload your geospatial data (Shapefiles, GeoJSON, etc) using a web form and then make it public or private.

After it is uploaded, you can visualize it in a table or on a map, search it using SQL, and apply map styles using CartoCSS. You can even access it using the CartoDB Maps API and SQL API, or export it to a file.

In other words, with CartoDB you can make awesome maps and build powerful geospatial applications! Definitely check out the CartoDB Maps gallery for interactive examples and code.

What are the components of CartoDB?

  • A User Interface for uploading, creating, editing, visualizing, and exporting geospatial data.
  • A geospatial database built on PostgreSQL and PostGIS 2.0
  • An SQL API for running SQL queries over HTTP with results formatted using GeoJSON and KML
  • A Map tiler that supports SQL and tile styling using CartoCSS
  • Authentication using OAuth if required

What does CartoDB depend on?

  • Ubuntu 10.04
  • Postgres 9.1.x
  • Redis 2.2+
  • Ruby 1.9.2
  • NodeJS 0.8.x
  • CartoDB-SQL-API
  • GEOS 3.3.4
  • GDAL 1.9.0
  • PostGIS 2.0.x
  • Mapnik 2.1.1
  • Windshaft-cartodb
  • Varnish 2.1+

How do I install CartoDB?

This is README is intended for Ubuntu 10.04. This doesn't mean that it can't be installed in other Linux versions or OSX systems, but that it's guaranteed to work only in Ubuntu 10.04. If anyone wants to share with us the installation process for any other system we will be more than happy to point it from this README. That said, there are also many successful installations on Amazon EC2, Linode, dedicated instances and development machines running OS X and Ubuntu 10.04+.

CartoDB is under heavy development. This means that at some point this README can fail at some point. If you detect it, please let us know and we will fix it as soon as we can. Also if you feel that something is wrong or even it's missing we will be also happy to fix it.

For any doubt about the process you can ask in our Google Group

If you want to give it a try, download CartoDB by cloning this repository:

$ git clone --recursive

Or you can just download the CartoDB zip file.

Add CartoDB PPAs


sudo add-apt-repository ppa:cartodb/gis

Add CartoDB Mapnik PPA

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:cartodb/mapnik

Add CartoDB Node PPA

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:cartodb/nodejs

Add CartoDB Redis PPA

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:cartodb/redis

Add CartoDB PostgreSQL PPA

sudo add-apt-repository  ppa:cartodb/postgresql

Some dependencies

unp is required for archive file upload support

sudo apt-get install unp

zip is required for table exports

sudo apt-get install zip

Install GEOS

GEOS is required for geometry function support.

sudo apt-get install libgeos-c1 libgeos-dev

Install GDAL

GDAL is requires for raster support.

sudo apt-get install gdal-bin libgdal1-dev

Install JSON-C

JSON-C is required for GeoJSON support.

sudo apt-get install libjson0 python-simplejson libjson0-dev

Install PROJ

PROJ4 is required for reprojection support.

sudo apt-get install proj-bin proj-data libproj-dev

Install PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL is the relational database that powers CartoDB.

sudo apt-get install postgresql-9.1 postgresql-client-9.1 postgresql-contrib-9.1 postgresql-server-dev-9.1

plpython is required for Python support

sudo apt-get install postgresql-plpython-9.1

Install PostGIS

PostGIS is the geospatial extension that allows PostgreSQL to support geospatial queries. This is the heart of CartoDB!

cd /usr/local/src
tar xzf postgis-2.0.2.tar.gz
cd postgis-2.0.2
./configure --with-raster --with-topology
make install

Finally, CartoDB depends on a geospatial database template named template_postgis. In the example script below, make sure that the path to each SQL file is correct:

#!/usr/bin/env bash
POSTGIS_SQL_PATH='pg_config --sharedir'/contrib/postgis-2.0
createdb -E UTF8 template_postgis
createlang -d template_postgis plpgsql
psql -d postgres -c \
 "UPDATE pg_database SET datistemplate='true' WHERE datname='template_postgis'"
psql -d template_postgis -f $POSTGIS_SQL_PATH/postgis.sql
psql -d template_postgis -f $POSTGIS_SQL_PATH/spatial_ref_sys.sql
psql -d template_postgis -f $POSTGIS_SQL_PATH/legacy.sql
psql -d template_postgis -f $POSTGIS_SQL_PATH/rtpostgis.sql
psql -d template_postgis -f $POSTGIS_SQL_PATH/topology.sql
psql -d template_postgis -c "GRANT ALL ON geometry_columns TO PUBLIC;"
psql -d template_postgis -c "GRANT ALL ON spatial_ref_sys TO PUBLIC;"

Install Ruby

We implemented CartoDB in the Ruby programming language, so you'll need to install Ruby 1.9.2.

Install Node.js

The tiler API and the SQL API are both Node.js apps.

sudo apt-get install nodejs npm

Install Redis

Components of CartoDB, like Windshaft or the SQL API depend on Redis.

sudo apt-get install redis-server

Install Python dependencies

This need to be done from the cartodb20 local copy. To install the Python modules that CartoDB depends on, you can use easy_install:

$ easy_install pip
$ pip install -r python_requirements.txt

Install Varnish

Varnish is a web application accelerator. Components like Windshaft use it to speed up serving tiles via the Maps API.

sudo pip install -e git+

Install Mapnik

Mapnik is an API for creating beautiful maps. CartoDB uses Mapnik 2.0 for creating and styling map tiles.

sudo apt-get install libmapnik-dev python-mapnik mapnik-utils

Install CartoDB SQL API

The CartoDB SQL API component powers the SQL queries over HTTP. To install it:

git clone git://
cd CartoDB-SQL-API
git checkout master
npm install

To run CartoDB SQL API in development mode, simply type:

node app.js development

Install Windshaft-cartodb

The Windshaft-cartodb component powers the CartoDB Maps API. To install it:

git clone git://
cd Windshaft-cartodb
git checkout master
npm install

To run Windshaft-cartodb in development mode, simply type:

node app.js development

Install local instance of cold beer

Congratulations! Everything you need should now be installed. Celebrate by drinking a cold beer before continuing. :)

Running CartoDB

Time to run your development version of CartoDB. Let's suppose that we are going to create a development env and that our user/subdomain is going to be 'development'

export SUBDOMAIN=development

# Enter the `cartodb` directory.
cd cartodb20

# Start redis, if you haven't done so yet
# Redis must be running when starting either the
# node apps or rails or runnin the ``create_dev_user script``
# NOTE: the default server port is 6379, and the default
#       configuration expects redis to be listening there

# If you are using rvm, create a new gemset
rvm use 1.9.2@cartodb --create && bundle install

# If it's a system wide installation
sudo bundle install

# Configure the application constants
mv config/app_config.yml.sample config/app_config.yml
vim config/app_config.yml

# Configure your postgres database connection details
mv config/database.yml.sample config/database.yml
vim config/database.yml

# Add entries to /etc/hosts needed in development
echo " ${SUBDOMAIN}.localhost.lan" | sudo tee -a /etc/hosts

# Create a development user
# The script will ask you for passwords and email
# Read the script for more informations about how to perform
# individual steps of user creation and settings management
sh script/create_dev_user ${SUBDOMAIN}

Start the resque daemon (needed for import jobs):

$ QUEUE=* bundle exec rake resque:work

Finally, start the CartoDB development server on port 3000:

$ bundle exec rails s -p 3000

You should now be able to access http://<mysubdomain>.localhost.lan:3000 in your browser and login with the password specified above.

How do I upgrade CartoDB?

There's no standard procedure to migrate from one version to another of the rails application, so version specific procedures are documented in the file.

For upgrade of Windshaft-CartoDB and CartoDB-SQL-API see the relative documentation.

Handy tasks

For a full list of CartoDB utility tests:

bundle exec rake -T

Using foreman

You can also use foreman to run the full stack (cartodb server, sql api, tiler, redis and resque), using a single command:

bundle exec foreman start -p $PORT

where $PORT is the port you want to attach the rails server to.

Note on tiling, SQL API and Redis

Please ensure CartoDB-SQL-API, Windshaft-cartodb, and Redis are all running for full experience.

Manual configuration is needed for the public/javascripts/environments/development.js file which configures Windshaft-cartodb tile server URLs.


CartoDB is a large app. We reccomend you use the spin gem to load the main application into memory while you are testing.


  • Fernando Blat (@ferblape)
  • Javier Álvarez Medina (@xavijam)
  • Simon Tokumine (@tokumine)
  • Alvaro Bautista (@batu)
  • Fernando Espinosa (@ferdev)
  • Sergio Alvarez Leiva (@saleiva)
  • Javier de la Torre (@jatorre)
  • Andrew W Hill (@andrewxhill)
  • Javi Santana (@javisantana)
  • Javier Arce (@javierarce)
  • Aaron Steele (@eightysteele)
  • Luis Bosque (@luisico)
  • Sandro Santilli (@strk)
  • David Arango (@demimismo)
  • Xabel Álvarez (@johnhackworth)
  • Lorenzo Planas (@lorenzoplanas)
  • Alejandro Martínez (@iamzenitram)