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Class is in Session: CartoDB

A few weeks ago, some members of our Liquid Galaxy content team headed to Gilt which hosted a class on CartoDB.

Since we deal with location-based data for our work with Liquid Galaxy, it seemed like the ideal class to learn more about this popular geospatial mapping tool. CartoDB is a cloud-based solution for mapping where users can easily manage data and create maps with them. The true allure of CartoDB is its ability to produce beautiful visualizations, which is why it’s often referred to as the “Instagram of mapping”.

The platform is built on open source software including PostGIS and PostgreSQL. There is extensive use of JavaScript in the front end, and Node.js for the back end APIs. CartoDB is packaged in a way where the user doesn’t need to have much coding experience, yet options still exist for those who want to go further with it using SQL and CSS.

Andrew Hill from CartoDB led the 4 hour class and provided us with a detailed summary of CartoDB’s origins, and its current wide use among companies like Twitter, NYTimes and several nonprofit organizations. Every data set uploaded is an API endpoint, and sql processes and packages data any you want and returns it with JSON. One of the coolest features of CartoDB is that the visualizations are dynamic, so whenever the dataset is altered, the changes are automatically reflected in the map visualization.

We spent a significant amount of time creating our own visualizations, and I was astounded by the application's ability to deliver beautiful visualizations in a matter of seconds. Below is an example.

Have you used CartoDB in your applications? We'd love to see your examples!

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