Making interactive maps

Introducing Mapbox Studio

Mapbox Studio is a web-based mapping application that makes it easy to produce elegantly styled, interactive, online maps.

The data we will use today

Download the data from this session from here, unzip the folder and place it on your desktop. It contains the following files:

Map seismic risk and earthquakes for the continental United States

Select a basemap

Sign in to your Mapbox account, then click on the Studio link at top right.

You should now see the following screen:

Each new map in Mapbox is a Style. The first task is to select a basemap. The suggested Basic template is rather busy for a map with data layers, so click More options and select the Light template by clicking its Create button.

You should now see a screen like this:

Edit the name of the Style from Light to Seismic at top left, and zoom the map out to the continental United States:

You can, if you wish, edit the colors, fonts, etc used for features and labels on your basemap by clicking on them in the panel at left.

Add and style the seismic risk layer

Click + Add layer at top left and then + Upload in the New layer panel that opens up:

Drag and drop the zipped shapefile, or click Select a file and navigate to it, then click Confirm.

Once the file uploads, select it as the new layer by clicking on it from your Unused sources:

Click on the new layer in the panel at left and the map should look like this:

To color the map according the values of seismic risk, click on Style with data conditions under Fill color. Select the ValueRange variable as the Data field, set the condition as is equal to <1, and set the HEX color value to #fee5d9 from the ColorBrewer Reds palette with five data classes.

Click ✔ Done, then + Add another condition and repeat the process for the other bins in the data, filling with the apppropriate color from the palette, until the map looks like this:

Finally, set the Fill opacity to 0.8 and drag the seismic layer beneath the layers for Country, State, Marine, and City labels. The map should now look like this:

Add and style the earthquakes layer

Add the quakes layer, following the same process as before for the files quakes.csv. Click on the new layer in the panel at left and the map should look like this:

Remember from week 10 that we need to use a formula to convert the mag values for earthquake magnitude into the amount of shaking each caused. So with Radius highighted, click Use a formula and fill in as follows:

10^mag is the same formula as we used last week, but when designing a web map, we can’t set the area of circles, only their radius. So we also need to take the sqrt or square root of these values, so that the circles size by area correctly with the data. (Look back to the notes from Week 2 if you can’t remember why.) The division by 300 is just a scaling factor for all of the circles, set by trial-and-error for optimal display on the map.

Now set the Color to white (HEX value #ffffff), the Opacity to 0.5, and the Stroke Width to 0.1 px.

Click on the quakes layer in the panel at left to close the style panel and the finished map should look like this:

Publish map and make a web page to display it

Click on the blue Publish button at top right, and click Publish again at the next window:

Slide the toggle from Private to Public:

Click Share at top right, select the Use tab, and copy the web page code that appears:

Paste this into an empty file in Sublime Text or Brackets and save as seismic.html.

This has saved a basic web page featuring the map. We can now customize the code to add navigation controls, prevent the map zooming with scrolling, and to add a color legend.

With the file seismic.html open in Sublime Text or Brackets, edit the <title></title>, and the center position for the map as follows:

<!DOCTYPE html>
  <meta charset='utf-8' />
  <title>Seismic risk and quakes</title>
  <meta name='viewport' content='initial-scale=1,maximum-scale=1,user-scalable=no' />
  <script src=''></script>
  <link href='' rel='stylesheet' />
    body { margin:0; padding:0; }
    #map { position:absolute; top:0; bottom:0; width:100%; }

<div id='map'></div>
mapboxgl.accessToken = 'pk.eyJ1IjoicGFsZGhvdXMiLCJhIjoiRlVuSTQyMCJ9.rI4OZyypY0ovTA7SkmHudg';
const map = new mapboxgl.Map({
  container: 'map',
  style: 'mapbox://styles/paldhous/cjnrvkyip29k52so6tk53nnhs',
  center: [-90, 40],
  zoom: 3.0


Now, above the closing tag, add the following code:

// Add zoom and rotation controls to the map.
map.addControl(new mapboxgl.NavigationControl());

// Disable scroll zooming

To add a legend, immediately beneath add the following:

// Create legend
map.on('load', function() {

  var layers = ['<1%', '1-2%', '2-5%', '5-10%', '10-12%'];
  var colors = ['#fee5d9','#fcae91','#fb6a4a','#de2d26','#a50f15'];

  for (i = 0; i < layers.length; i++) {
    var layer = layers[i];
    var color = colors[i];
    var item = document.createElement('div');
    var key = document.createElement('span');
    key.className = 'legend-key'; = color;

    var value = document.createElement('span');
    value.innerHTML = layer;

Then add this HTML immediately beneath <div id='map'></div>:

<div class='map-overlay' id='legend'></div>

To style the legend, add the following CSS code above the closing </style> tag:

    .map-overlay {
      position: absolute;
      bottom: 0;
      right: 0;
      background: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.8);
      margin-right: 20px;
      font-family: Arial, sans-serif;
      overflow: auto;
      border-radius: 3px;

    #legend {
    padding: 10px;
    box-shadow: 0 1px 2px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.1);
    line-height: 18px;
    margin-bottom: 40px;

    .legend-key {
      display: inline-block;
      border-radius: 20%;
      width: 10px;
      height: 10px;
      margin-right: 5px;

Finally, to add a pop-up to get information on each quake when clicked or tapped:

// Add popup
map.on('click', function(e) {
  var features = map.queryRenderedFeatures(e.point, {
    layers: ['quakes-36p62q'] // name of the quakes layer from your map

  if (!features.length) {

  var feature = features[0];

  var popup = new mapboxgl.Popup({ offset: [0, -15] })
    .setHTML('<b>Magitude: </b>' + + '<br><b>Time: </b>' + + '<br><b>Depth: </b>' + + ' km')

The code in the setHTML function writes the HTML to appear in the pop-up. It pulls data for each quake using the format:

This web page can now be embedded in any other web page with a simple iframe of the following form:

<iframe src="seismic.html"> width = 100% height = 500 </iframe>

Exercise: Map GDP per capita in 2016 for the world’s nations

Return to the main Mapbox Studio page and select a Light basemap as before. Rename the Style as GDPpercap, and upload and add the zipped shapefile as a new layer.

Style it to mimic the approach used in the map below, made in QGIS:

You will have to use Style with data conditions. Because the variable gdp_percap has decimal numbers, you will need to include a decimal point in the numbers you select for the breaks for the bins.

Make a web page to display the map.


Share this with me by 6pm on Wed Nov 7.

Further reading/resources

Mapbox tutorials

Mapbox Studio manual

Mapbox GL documentation