Advanced Cartography in #GeoServer– #SLDs can make for very pretty maps

I said it in the title, I’ll say it again, SLDs are not just for ugly maps.

I’ve heard from several professionals in this geospatial sector that CartoCSS is so cool– “look at the great cartography you can get out of it”. And, truth be told, creating a standard for cartography that aligns so well with existing web development standards is a brilliant way to get designers in on the map development process (as demonstrated aptly by e.g. Stamen), something sorely needed since Geography decided that cartographers weren’t needed anymore, some time in the late 90s/ early double aughts. That said, and at the risk of sounding parochial, beautiful maps can be produced using SLDs in GeoServer too. The below map is a snapshot from our GeoServer instance, and evolved from a set of cartographic conventions we’ve been developing in our shop, adapted in 4 hours by a darn smart part time employee (Tom Kraft) who had never built an SLD before.

Without further addo:

6 thoughts on “Advanced Cartography in #GeoServer– #SLDs can make for very pretty maps

  1. SLDs are good for data-driven styling, raster colormaps, transformations but they’re such a bubble gum. Check out some nice maps (,, but I’ve spent ages for writing SLD. Carto CSS lacks such stuff yet, but it totally wins the drawing-order game. SLD ignores sorted row order in DB table (at least I haven’t found how to enable it), but it’s really a must when you sort by z_order. GeoServer CSS module isn’t of much help here, because it’s still an enormous SLD in the end. QGIS native SLD support will help a bit, haven’t tried it yet. So I’d like to vote for Carto CSS module for GeoServer and data-driven coolness in Carto. But thinking further this may be a matter of pairing java tools with c++ renderer – and that’s too hard:)

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