This is the second blog entry in my series ‘Leaflet-Diary’, the first entry was nothing more than me announcing to the world that I’m contracting with RStudio for adding new features to the Leaflet package. This one is about what has been done so far and what’s cooking.
- All existing plugins have been upgraded to their respective latest versions.
- R counterparts to any missing or new features of these plugins have also been added.
- I’ve introduced additional functionality in some plugins not available before.
You can try out the new stuff today by building the Leaflet package from source using
devtools::install_github('rstudio/leaflet'). For a full list of changes see the pull request #293. Also the examples folder has lots of new examples. You can see working sample code at my Rpubs page.
I’ve broken down my task in two phases, phase 1: upgrade plugins (now complete) and phase 2: upgrade LeafletJS (in progress). The reason I upgraded the plugins before LeafletJS was simply because I was more familiar with the plugin handling code than the core Leaflet code. There was a risk of some upgraded plugins not working under 0.7.3 and requiring 0.7.7, but I was willing to take that risk.
Leaflet Providers Plugin
The Leaflet Providers plugin, which provides a convenient way to add existing free tile providers has been upgraded (See commit bcd9adf for details). Of noteworthy, was the removal of MapQuest provider (Issue #219) due to MapQuest closing free access. After upgrading this plugin I saw a chance to improve the R part. Instead of having to provide the provider name in the
addProviderTiles call, I created a R list called
providers pre-populated with Names of existing providers and base-map variants if any.
So now instead of
leaflet() %>% addProviderTiles("Stamen.Toner")
you can do
leaflet() %>% addProviderTiles(providers$Stamen.Toner)
At first this looks like more typing, but a) you can put RStudio’s auto-complete to work for you and, b) you don’t have to remember all the providers and their variants, and there are roughly 110 of them (I checked). For a complete example of this along with code see my Rpubs: leaflet-providers entry.
The Leaflet.Label plugin allows you to add static or on-hover labels to your markers, polylines, and polygons. This plugin was upgraded to the latest version (See commits ca2f5a5 & 8bddd82). In addition I also merged two pull requests on the original plugin repo and introduced some new features of my own. Now with the new version you get…
Label's w/o box.
Customizable text size.
Markers w/o the icon.
I believe these new features make the plugin even more useful for your interactive mapping needs. See this Rpubs: Leaflet-Label entry for details and code samples.
The Leaflet-Omnivore plugin by Mapbox allows you to overlay GeoJSON, TopoJSON, WKT, KML, GPX files on the Leaflet map. I have upgraded this plugin to the latest version (See commit 5abd3f4). I didn’t see much changed w.r.t. the older plugin, but staying current is always a better option. For now even if the plugin is upgraded I haven’t yet added the R API to add WKT/KML/GPX files. There is a need to support these file formats in the R package via more idiomatic R APIs. The current approach to add GeoJSON/TopoJSON is also not the most ideal one. So stay tuned for more updates on this.
For what it’s worth do check out my example of handling GeoJSON using the geojsonio package over at Rpubs: leaflet-geojson. I like this approach more than the omnivore plugin based approach because it’s much easy to add markers/polylines/polygons and style them using data with this approach than leaflet native approach.
Leaflet Measure Plugin
The Leaflet Measure is a very useful plugin that enables you to add a controller on your map which can be used to measure distances between points or areas of a polygon. I upgraded it to the latest version (See commit c58926f). The new version supports localization in certain locales, which goes nicely with OpenStreetMaps (OSM) base-map layer which uses localized labels. e.g. below you see the plugin displaying the options and text in German.
For details see my Rpubs: leaflet-measure entry.
For a full list of possibilities check out my Rpubs: Minimap entry.
Simple-Graticule & Graticule Plugins
I had implemented the Simple Graticule plugin, but when I did upgrade it this time, I realized that it is meant only for L.CRS.Simple, but there is a proper Graticule plugin too, so I included it in this round too. See commit 727dd47 for details.
Check out the Rpubs: Graticule and Rpubs: Simple Graticule entries for code samples.
Marker Clusters Plugin
Finally we come to my favorite of all, the Marker Cluster plugin. This plugin was way overdue for an upgrade and I found two very useful sub-plugins, the layer support sub-plugin & the freezable sub-plugin. The former makes marker clustering work along with layers and layer-controllers, so you can add your markers to different layers and show/hide these layers using a layer controller and the marker cluster plugin will update it’s clusters accordingly. The later allows you to freeze/unfreeze clustering at a specific zoom level. I believe these were worth additions to what is an already very useful plugin. For the code curious see commit b6c980.
For code samples and some spiffy clustering check out the Rpubs: Marker Cluster entry.
End of Phase 1