Mapping with Ruby and Rails

Back when I started MapBuzz, there was so little work being done in the open source geospatial world with Ruby and/or Rails that Sean even commented on it. Geospatial was the realm of Python and C/C++ on one side, and a completely duplicated Java software stack on the other (an interesting dichotomy that’s worth a blog about at some point).

Although Python/Java still remain dominant in the geospatial world, there has been an uptick of interest in the Ruby and Rails communities. So let’s take a look what’s new.

We’ll start with Shoaib Burq’s RailsConf Europe 2007 talk Rails GIS Hacks. Although I wasn’t at the conference, Shoaib asked me to review his materials a couple months ago. Unfortunately I didn’t have much time to provide feedback – but he really didn’t need it. His materials are absolutely excellent and are now online – so check them out.

Google Maps with Rails

Earlier this year, Apress released a book about using Google Maps with Rails. I haven’t read the book, so can’t comment on it. But one of the authors, Andre, has an active blog Earthcode that frequently talks about Rails and mapping. Other blogs of interest are The Pochi Superstar Mega Show! by Guilhem Vellut, High Earth Orbit by Andrew Turner and GeoLabs by Nomad Labs.

On the software side, various Rails plugins have appeared over the last years that make it easy to embed a google map (such as ym4r, cartographer) in a Rails application. There are also a slew of geocoding gems, and Ruby bindings for Gdal and Geos (provided by yours truly).

And as far as sites, there is of course my favorite MapBuzz. In addition, OpenStreetMap has moved to Rails and I would guess Andrew’s site Mapufacture is also using Rails.

So although community is still quite small, it sure is a lot bigger than last year. And if I missed your totally excellent Ruby Mapping library/blog/site let me know and I’ll add you to the list.