Pubs in England: How to do it with Polymaps and GeoCommons Filters

UPDATE: now using 27,416 pubs from Aug 2012

In this post I will show one way to display and interact with data from GeoCommons, using the powerful “filters”, and all on the mapping library, PolyMaps. It will show a basic example showing points on a map based on a filter and a more advanced example with changeable filters and some basic interaction on the points.

Few weeks ago, I wrote about how to display data from GeoCommons quickly on an OpenLayers map. The resulting little map was not that interactive, but it showed how easy it was to get started using GeoCommons as a data source. PolyMaps is a bit different than other libraries – it’s very lightweight, fast and powerful, but in terms of bells and whistles, you have to roll your own, like with Jquery core and all the plugins. It follows JQuery in another way, in that it uses method chaining. Anyhow, here is a map of Green Map named pubs in England. The base dataset, of all (24 thousand or so) pubs in England, was from OpenStreetMap, and the data is cc-by-sa. England pubs OSM july 2011  I added the data from an extract from

GeoCommons Filters

The GeoCommons API gives more information, but the filter we are using looks like this:[name][][like]=green%20man

filter[string_col][][operator] = text

We can use things like equals, min and max for numeric and date type attributes, and equals and like for string. We can also add more than one filter to the query.


Green Map pubs in England

Filtered GeoCommons features on polymaps.



Most of the gubbings is in the pubs.js file. Lets see what’s going on here.

The first section sets up the map, and adds the Acetate basemap to it, and adds a control to it. Notice the method chain:  “map.add(po.image().url(po.url ” pretty nice, eh?

var po = org.polymaps;

	var map_div = document.getElementById("map");

	var map =
		.center({"lat":54, "lon":-3})

The second section gets json from GeoCommons, based on a filter. A filter is like a search parameter. Then we can see that a layer is created and the features from the json are added to it.  We have to get the json outside of polymaps as the json is not quite valid GeoJSON yet – (it doesn’t wrap the features array in a featureCollection) – but no matter, polymaps can handle it.

var url =   ""+

    url = "/cgi-bin/proxy.cgi?url=" + escape(url);

    j = jQuery.getJSON(url, function(data){

Pretty basic, really, and not clickable, and the points are black. The points are SVG – and are default formatted.

Adding More Functionality

Search for any pub name, click on point gives the name.

This example lives at and the key part of the javascript lives in


We will be building upon the last example a bit.

We have refactored the adding layer bit, because this time we are making several requests. We give it a reasonably random and throwaway id, which we assign to a global variable of the currentLayerId, so we can delete it in the future.

function addLayer(filterText){
  if (currentLayerId){
    element = document.getElementById(currentLayerId);
    if (element) {
      var parent  = element.parentNode;

  var guid = Math.floor(Math.random()*3000);
  currentLayerId = guid;

  var url =   ""+

  url = "/cgi-bin/proxy.cgi?url=" + escape(url);

  j = jQuery.getJSON(url,
      map.add(po.geoJson().id(guid).features(data).on("load", setFeatures))


When the features are added, there is a callback method (setFeatures) which stuffs the name of the pub into the point’s SVG, gives it a CSS class so we can style it with pubs_styles.css, and add a mousedown event

function setFeatures(e){
  for (var i = 0; i < e.features.length; i++) {
    var feature = e.features[i];
    feature.element.setAttribute("feat_name",; //give the element an id
    feature.element.setAttribute("class", "pub_point"); //set css class for colours
    feature.element.setAttribute("r", "5"); //radius of svg circle.

    feature.element.addEventListener("mousedown", function(e){  
      clickFeature(this, e);	
    }, false); 


pub_styles.css  -  the fill is purple, the stroke, white and the opacity 0.6 – we style the features using CSS!

.pub_point {
   stroke: #fff;
   fill-opacity: 0.6;

The click / mousedown event function gets the SVG feature and the event, and displays a div whose contents is made up from the feat_name attribute from the featrure. function setFeatures(e){
function clickFeature(f, evt){
  var blurb = "<div class='info_blurb'>" + f.getAttribute("feat_name") + "</div>";

  var infowin = document.getElementById('infowin') = "200px"; = "200px"; = "auto"; = evt.clientX + "px"; = evt.clientY + "px"; = 'absolute'; = 'block';
  infowin.innerHTML = blurb; 

So, wastefully using just bit of JQuery to handle to form, when text is entered in the box and the button pressed, the current layer is removed, and a new one is requested, give it a go!

It’s basic, in that if you change layer, the text label may still be there, and the labels don’t move when the map is panned, but hopefully you can see that you would have to roll your won stuff on top of polymaps to do this.

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6 thoughts on “Pubs in England: How to do it with Polymaps and GeoCommons Filters

  1. Pingback: Leaflet & GeoCommons JSON | GeoIQ Developer

  2. Hi folks

    The JSON API from Geocommons has changed a bit, and so we need to make the following changes – see any_pubs.js

    feature.element.setAttribute(“feat_name”,; //give the element an id

    map.add(po.geoJson().id(guid).features(data.features).on(“load”, setFeatures))

  3. Pingback: Leaving GeoIQ/Esri. Retrospective and future plans. « thinkwhere

  4. Pingback: Werkzeuge für die Programmierung von Karten | Martin Vollenweider's TechBlog

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