Name: CartoDB
$: Varies
Examples: Syria conflict: a year of deaths mapped (featured image), A Map of Attacks on Health Care in SyriaDeath sentences and executions in 2014Does your country share your data with the USA?
Level: Intermediate
Use For: Visually representing research; Mapping change over time


CartoDB allows the user to create interactive online maps. Free accounts cannot have private maps but have unlimited map views. Subscription plans start at $29 per month or $319 per year and Enterprise plans start at $7,999 per year. Most of CartoDB Editor’s features are designed so they can be used by those without coding knowledge. However, using CartoDB Platform developers can incorporate the maps into their applications. CartoDB maps can be viewed on a variety of browsers and mobile devices.

Data can be added to CartoDB in a variety of forms, including SHP, KML, and CSV. These files can be imported from a computer, Google Drive, Dropbox, Twitter, ArcGIS Online, and Salesforce. The user can also create an empty table and add data to it manually. Once uploaded the data can be edited and georeferenced as necessary.


It is easy to switch between table and map view while editing. To create a map that can be shared the visualize option must be selected, this allows the user to configure the map for desktop or mobile and add elements such as titles and annotations. When mapping the data, multiple layers can be added and SQL can be used to choose what data from each table is mapped.


CartoDB has a variety of basemaps or custom maps from platforms like Mapbox can be used. There are also visualization wizards that allow the user to choose from a variety of preset ways to visually represent their data. The map legend is preset by the wizard but can be adjusted. The Torque option allows the user to create animated maps that show changes in data over time. Information windows can be set to appear when the geographic feature is clicked or hovered over and can be adjusted to include the desired fields from the table.

CartoDB has a fairly intuitive platform, however the online introductions and tutorials are very helpful. CartoDB also provides guides about how to use SQL and CartoCSS in the editor. The geolocation feature can be difficult to use for some types of information, but overall is an incredibly valuable tool.