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re: I'm an open source enthusiast at Mapbox, the creator of Leaflet and 40+ other JS libraries, and a rock musician. AMA! VIEW POST

FULL DISCUSSION
 

Hi Vladimir! I'm a huge fan of the work you've done and it's one of my biggest goals to work on geospatial software like you have. I had a few questions if that's okay:

  • How did you get started in this area of combining geospatial and software development?

  • Does it help to have an extensive GIS background when it comes to working with geospatial software? With the tools we have nowadays (especially thanks to you), it's pretty easy to work with maps without any GIS knowledge and it's often the case that they don't really overlap depending on the use case.

  • Do you have any advice for people who want to break into geospatial tech (like myself), especially from the perspective of building tools?

Sorry if any of them are unclear or if there are repeats. Thanks!

 

Thank you!

How did you get started in this area of combining geospatial and software development?

I just got lucky — worked for a generic software consultancy in 2008 when our company got a client from the mapping industry, CloudMade. Then I learned about OpenStreetMap, online maps, got excited, and it started from there.

Does it help to have an extensive GIS background when it comes to working with geospatial software?

It probably depends, but in my case, it helped a lot to NOT have any GIS background. This way, I could build a mapping library from a perspective of a total newbie, making it simple and easy to use for others too. You can hear more about my background with Leaflet and mapping in this video.

Do you have any advice for people who want to break into geospatial tech (like myself), especially from the perspective of building tools?

I'd recommend just jumping straight into building something, and learn along the way. Find a cool project idea that you'd feel enthusiastic to work on, and don't worry about having any knowledge gaps — practice is the most effective way to learn.

Or find an open source project to contribute to. I know contributing to popular projects can be intimidating, but you can start small — e.g. even just fixing typos in the docs could be a good gateway, and then you build from there.

 

Vladimir, thank you for this thorough response! In your opinion, is Javascript the best gateway language to get into geospatial software space, or are other languages, e.g. Python or Ruby viable options as well?

JavaScript is perhaps the most popular gateway, but they're all great choices! I'd perhaps add R and Java.

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