Stamen’s new basemaps are beautiful

Stamen recently released a set of free open source web mapping services that are both fast and beautiful.

Watercolor (my favorite) is a great map service for anyone looking to add some artistic flare to their maps. The basemap incorporates hand-painted brush textures and high-level cartographic algorithms to create a map that honestly looks like someone sat down and pained every inch of the planet in watercolor. The map is absolutely stunning.

Terrain is the perfect open-source alternative to Google’s terrain map. It looks great at all zoom levels and visually has the birds-eye effect fully locked in.

Toner is a wonderful basemap for anyone providing a print page for their maps. It’s designed using only black and white with focus on labeling and textures. You can really make a dataset pop against it if you add a splash of color, like selecting a building in red – for example.

Stamen has made these services available for the following APIs: Google Maps, OpenLayers, Leaflet, & ModestMaps

Enabling PHP and MySQL on your Localhost

Today we’re going to set up the localhost environment.

There’s no place like (There's no place like home)

So, what does “localhost” mean? In simple terms, localhost is the address you type into a web browser that looks to a folder on your computer instead of the internet. Using the localhost developers can build and test websites on their personal computers without relying on a seperate server or the internet. The technical explanation for localhost can get a little confusing for beginners, but for all intents and purposes Localhost represents the address for your computer!

Time to dive in; we’re going to install a LAMP!

LAMP stands for Linux Apache MySQL and PHP (sometimes the P stands for Python or Perl, though typically just PHP). LAMP installations give you everything you need, and installing one has only gotten easier over the years. Now you can typically deploy one with a few clicks of the mouse with zero frustration! If you’re running Ubuntu, the whole setup is ridiculously easy and only takes a few minutes. The Ubuntu help site explains every step right here:

But I don’t use Linux?

Acceptable, plenty of people don’t use Linux, so you’re in luck! You can install LAMP-like solutions on just about every operating with various per-configured software packages, my favorite being XAMPP. Everything about XAMPP is great, it’s free, easy to setup, and works on most platforms including Windows and Mac. This is the quickest and easiest way to create a development environment, and depending on the project, it's still my favorite!

Once you've gotten your localhost set up with PHP and MySQL, you are unlocking a door of endless development possibility. Now you can easily start developing basic PHP & MySQL applications or jump right in and install wordpress or one of the many excellent open source projects out there.