5 Leaflet plugins to spice up your map

The beauty¬†of open source software is that developers can add to existing code to make life easier for other developers. Leaflet allows users to develop neat additions to your web map called ‘plugins’. The very best plugins are showcased on the Leaflet website. Over time though, even this list has gotten large (which is a good thing). Today we will look at the five most useful plugins that you might want to add to your Leaflet web map.

1. Draw

This plugin made by Jacob Toye allows you to draw all kinds of shapes on your map. Useful for sketching out custom features such as paths, areas and boundaries.

2. Providers

As the name suggests, you can add map tiles from various providers with this plugin without much of a hassle. You can add map tiles from providers such as ESRI, HERE (Nokia) and MapBox with ease with this plugin.

3. Search

When you have tons of uniquely named markers on your map, finding the right marker can be a bother. This nifty plugin by Stefano Cudini adds a search box for your markers, so your markers don’t get lost in the crowd.

4. Marker Clustering

This plugin by Dave Leaver groups nearby markers into neat, colour-coded clusters. This plugin is by far one my most favourites and one that I just love to use solely because it is simple, highly functional and makes your map look beautiful. I could not recommend this plugin highly enough.

5. Routing

This plugin by the Norwegian Trekking Association is especially useful when you are using the OSM road network and want to provide shortest routes and directions on your map.

These were five highly useful Leaflet plugins you can use to add more functionality to your map. If you have your own plugins that you would like to highlight or have your own list of useful plugins, please do mention them in your comment!


Coverage Mapping with OpenSignal and Mozilla Location Service

If you use a smart phone, you are connected. To stay connected, you need data. To get data, you need coverage- either from your cell provider or from a WiFi connection. We will look at two services that help you find coverage.

OpenSignal is based upon a simple concept- to measure the signal strength and point you in the direction of the strongest signal. you can download the OpenSignal app from the Play Store or the App Store, based on what device you use. OpenSignal also serves a higher purpose- they serve the data they have and put it on a map. The result is a heatmap that shows you the signal strengths of your provider across the area you live in- a fascinating visualization! You can also get information on which provider has the best coverage in your location.

OpenSignal coverage map of New Delhi
OpenSignal coverage map of New Delhi

When I moved to New Delhi in 2011, I took a new cell subscription from provider A. Provider A had good coverage for most of the places I frequented except the ones that mattered most- home and office. Needless to say, I cancelled this subscription and moved on to provider B which served me like a charm. Now, if I had known that provider B had better coverage for New Delhi than provider A, I would have chosen provider B in the first place. This is one scenario where OpenSignal could help you out- making informed decisions regarding your cell subscription.

Mozilla Location Service
Mozilla Location Service is a relatively newer product and aims to map WiFi coverage around the world. You can open a map of your area and see where you can get open WiFi connections. The service is relatively nascent and will take time to catch up but I’m sure that if Mozilla plays the cards right, we will have a monster of a service on our hands.

WiFi coverage in New Delhi with Mozilla Location ServiceWiFi coverage in New Delhi with Mozilla Location Service
WiFi coverage in New Delhi with Mozilla Location Service

Both OpenSignal and Mozilla Location Service are crowdsourced. You can contribute with the OpenSignal app for the former and MozStumbler for the latter.