Thank you for being so awesome and so open, Mapzen. RIP.


2018 has barely begun and the mapping community has already been smacked with what would be one of the saddest news of the year. Open-source pioneer Mapzen is shutting down. Come February 1, 2018, and the four-year-old platform will pull the plug on all of its hosted APIs and support services.

This is what we found on the Mapzen blog:

Though Mapzen didn’t give any explanation for why it is closing its doors, it has gently nudged the tens of thousands of its users toward the silver lining: Since the company’s code and data is open, users can make sure its legacy lives on by running their own servers with the open-source projects that powered Mapzen services. Alternatively, users can also switch to another hosted API that offers similar functionality.

To make this transition as smooth as possible, the model ‘open-source first’ company has put together a brilliant migration guide detailing how someone can use Mapzen’s open data, even with limited technical knowledge. Documentation for each product will be available in open-source GitHub repository.

The guide also serves as an excellent inventory of alternative open-source services and hosted APIs. And frankly, we would like to see more startups take this wonderful exit approach when they shut down, if not for the sake of the projects, but for the gratification of the people who have worked so hard to build them.

Mapzen’s extremely thoughtful and wildly inventive team found inspiring ways to visualize location data, churning out a perfect amalgamation of aesthetics, effectiveness, and historical continuity with each strikingly good-looking map. It’s really disappointing that they couldn’t find the investors to shore up their operations because we would have loved to see these guys keep making sustained, long-term improvements to our ecosystem.

RIP Mapzen. Thank you for being so awesome. Thank you for being so open.

Ishveena is a geospatial enthusiast and a veteran of creating and managing compelling digital content for organizations and individuals. When she is not making magic at her desk, you are likely to find her exploring nature, eating her way through life, or binge-watching funny animal videos.