We were as amused as everyone else with the Yelp “hipster” maps released last month for major cities around the world, but after seeing where the hipsters were in our cities we wondered: “how hard is it to build this kind of app?” and “can we map things other than hipsters?”
The answers: “not nearly as hard as you might think” and “yes”!
What you need to make a text-driven heat map:
- Some text! Yelp used restaurant reviews and we used geographic names. For the app to be any fun, the words should exhibit some clumping characteristics.
- A text search engine! OpenGeo Suite has one of these built into the PostgreSQL database.
- A heat map rendering engine! OpenGeo Suite has one of those built into GeoServer.
- A user interface! OpenGeo Suite has a nice UI toolkit to build with.
Having all the parts in hand, we could build an example application using very little code (and so can you).
Try it out!