MapBox vs ArcGIS Online

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Today I finished the MapBox TileMill crash course. Just as the programming world has the “Hello World!” example for learning new programming languages, the GIS world appears to use the USGS Earthquake data feed for the same purpose. I say that only because of the Maps and the Geospatial Revolution course that I completed last week also used that data feed to introduce ArcGIS Online.

I’ve embedded an example of both sites, MapBox and ArcGIS Online, mapping the earthquake data on my website. These are very basic examples as directed by the respective lessons:

Both tools/sites are easy to use. I liked the CartoCSS used by TillMill better than ArcGIS Online because I felt as if I had more control over the map style. It’s possible that ArcGIS Online has similar control but I just didn’t dig deep enough to find it.

The other thing that I liked about TileMill is that I am not tied to a single map tile server like I am with ArcGIS Online. Maps can be exported in an XML format compatible with Mapnik, should I ever choose to host map tiles on my own server.

I’ll continue exploring TillMill this Labor Day weekend to see what other capabilities I discover. I’m looking forward to seeing what it can do!

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