I have always found maps of all sorts fascinating. Studying Eurasian history, I have relied on historical maps to try to fathom historical actors’ knowledge of space. In terms of conceptualizing my own CHI project, quite a few scholarly and journalist works that incorporate thematic maps and other interactive media have informed and inspired me. Some of my favorite examples include The New York Times’s “The Russia Left Behind” and the Harvard University-based spatial history project Beautiful Spaces. Over the past couple of weeks, our engagement with web mapping has prompted me to get familiar with several tools for developing interactive maps with thematic or temporal narratives. Our team has decided on using Mapbox for the web mapping challenge. Being a first-time user, I was impressed by how handy it appeared to learners yet how rich and advanced mapping solutions it could offer. Further digging up its functionalities, I learned that Mapbox could even allow users to display and analyze raster data, such as digital photographs and satellite images, by uploading them onto existing tilesets. It is of great help to historians, for many a historical map in TIFF or GeoTIFF formats can be processed on the platform of Mapbox. 

Prior to my exploration of these JavaScript libraries and frameworks for web mapping, such as Mapbox, Leaflet, and Openlayers, I had called QGIS my favorite tool for handling similar tasks. Now that I realized that Mapbox had approachable and good features for translating data into thematic maps, I revisited the web mapping plugin nested in QGIS in the hope of seeing its less user-friendly features and persuading myself into unlearning it. However, I discovered that despite some limitations, QGIS’s qgis2web plugin remained a quite competitive and helpful alternative to some of those popular JavaScript mapping libraries. It offers, first of all, detailed tutorials on how to navigate the plugin. In addition, QGIS’s capacity for efficiently classifying data and creating aesthetic symbology enables various representation and interpretation of data. 

I also appreciate that joining table in QGIS is fairly simple. That allows multiple layers of information presented on a single map. Even more, this plugin offers the options of exporting the data mapping project to Leaflet or Openlayers webmaps in addition to its default black-and-white basemap. This plugin certainly gives me some headache. For example, I still have a hard time figuring out how to apply my project’s coordinate reference system to the Leaflet webmap, even though I make sure that I have checked and unchecked the “match project crs” button back and forth over and over again. All in all, I still consider it a good tool for web mapping a variety of data and present them in cartographically intelligible formats.