The TileMill Blueprint - How Node.js can power a cross-platform app for both web and desktop

Long Form


TileMill is a modern design studio for making beautiful maps with open data. It is built entirely using open source components, and has a gorgeous UI whether run on Windows, Mac, or via a browser. Learn how this is possible.


TileMill is a modern design studio for making beautiful maps with open data, from the team at MapBox. It powers maps on sites ranging from Foursquare to the Dept. of Energy. TileMill is built entirely using open source components. At the core TileMill is a Node.js web application leveraging Backbone.js on both the client and server and Mapnik for rendering geo data. It can be effortlessly deployed on a headless server and used over http, but it also runs natively as a single-windowed app on Mac, Linux, and Windows without the user ever knowing http used for IPC under the hood. In this talk you will learn in-depth about how this is possible, what node.js tricks and modules are used to afford such flexibility from the same codebase, and lessons learned from packaging this for easy use by cartographers new to using open source tools.

Speaking experience

Have given workshops in past years at WHERE2.0, FOSS4G, and WhereCamp. This year also speaking at OSCON. One readily available video is my lightning talk at SOTM:


  • Dane mug


    Dane works with the latest open source technologies to solve problems in advanced cartography and data visualization. He programs in C++, JavaScript, and Python and brings a deep knowledge of spatial data and web development to his mapping work. Dane is a lead Mapnik developer, a charter member of OSGEO, a founding member of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team.