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May 2010
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What is Closed Contour?

Simply put, Closed Contour is my attempt to create modern topographic maps using publically available data.  Here’s what I’m after:

  • User-specific data.  I’m into peak climbing and I want my maps to be focused on that.
  • Aesthetically pleasing.  A topographic map should look good at every scale and viewing distance.
  • Editable.  Ideally the map should be editable in a wiki style (like but I’ll settle for just me being able to make changes.
  • Consistent.  The units, contour interval, typography, coloring, scale, etc. should all be consistent across the entire mapped area.
  • Printable.  The map should be printable at an accurate scale.
  • Web interface.  This isn’t too much to ask, there’s plenty of good mapping interfaces (even open source) out there and you can already find the USGS topos in them.

There’s no single solution that meets all of my needs right now so I’m going to try to build one.  This blog will chronicle how that goes.


Comment from Bryan
Time April 1, 2011 at 9:32 am

So cool! I just linked over from CartoTalk. I love the web interface that you have going to explore your map. The coordinates provided in the lower-right corner are great. What technology did you use for the interface?

Comment from Dan
Time April 1, 2011 at 9:42 am

Hi Bryan, glad you like the interface. I use OpenLayers for the map interface. The controls in the upper left were customized to avoid clashing with the map.

Comment from Scott Parks
Time October 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Hey Dan,

I just wanted to give you a huge THANKS for making this blog available. When I first encountered it in Feb/2011, I had no idea much of this data existed on the web.

Until now, I had been using the awesome, but outdated 7.5 quads to create maps sets for the entire Pacific Crest Trail. After 6 months of work, these maps are now completely digitized, with far, far better results.

You and I had very different objectives. You created a set of tiles given geographic bounds. I created a tool the ‘follows a trail’ and spits out tiles within predefined bounds. The only common tool we shared is GDAL.

But the idea you communicated, “It can be done”, made all the difference in the world!

So again, thanks for making this site available!

Scott Parks

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