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Public Lab Wiki documentation


This is a revision from August 29, 2011 21:22. View all revisions
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MapMill is the PLOTS tool for sorting imagery produced with balloon mapping.

It takes hours to go through the thousands of images we're capturing from balloons and kites, to pick out the best ones for inclusion in our free and open source maps. Help us by choosing the sharpest, clearest, best images.

If you are creating your own maps, MapMill is a great way to offer a more accessible and inclusive first step in the process of turning images into maps. Email the link to your MapMill site to your community, post it on your blog or on Facebook. It's a great lightweight way to get people more engaged after the flight is over.

To start using MapMill, contact to


Planning & proposed features

  • make mapmill able to rename sites -- also in database
  • make mapmill able to store links to all formats
  • tag sites "gulf coast" etc, and .org/sort/gulf-coast/ should let you sort just that tag
  • use AJAX to load a new image

Long-term goals & features

  • add a map of the site so you can make a guess where it fits, and possible use of a base map to assess the quality of a particular image

Setting up your own local copy of MapMill

If you have low bandwidth or don't want to share your map data, you can run MapMill yourself, on your computer. Follow these steps and email with questions or for troubleshooting.

  • Download the Bitnami "native" RubyStack for your computer:
  • Run the installer.
  • Go to the main Bitnami folder which was just installed, called "rubystack-2.2-2"
  • Download MapMill and unzip it in the "projects" folder inside "rubystack-2.2-2".
  • From the commandline:
    • go to the main Bitnami folder which was just installed, called "rubystack-2.2-2"
    • type ".rubyconsole"
    • you're now in the local Bitnami ruby shell
    • type "cd projects/mapmill" to get to the mapmill folder
    • type "rake db:migrate"
    • if it runs with no errors, type "script/server"
  • Import your images
    • Copy a folder of JPG images into "/rubystack-2.2-2/projects/mapmill/public/sites/your-folder-here"
    • Go to "http://localhost:3000/admin" in your web browser
    • Click "Import sites"
    • Your site should appear in the list. Click "Import images"
    • After what may be a while (it has to actually scan each image and insert it into the database) the Admin page should reload showing how many images you've imported. Go to "http://localhost:3000/" or click on your site to see your images.
  • Start sorting!

To keep in mind:

  • This may run slowly on a small, weak computer like my netbook
  • We'll try to get Passenger installed or something soon so it can be multi-threaded, in the meantime it may only be able to handle one pageload at a time.
  • To connect other computers, find out your IP address (linux/mac: type "ifconfig" and it's the one that looks like 192.x.x.x or something) and any computer on the same local network should be able to use it by going to (or whatever your IP address was plus ":3000".