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Would another free app or program be better and easier to do this than mapbox.com ?

I simply want to layer census 2010 data by shading areas onto a map like on theatlanticcities.com/posts/map/ & developmentseed.org.

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Contrary to what you claim, comments to the closed question indicate what (some of) the problems with it were. Our faq gives you some guidance for asking answerable questions that are on topic. –  whuber Sep 7 '12 at 15:00
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1 Answer

Excel can hold the attribute values, but doesn't manage the boundaries (the shapes of the census districts).

I haven't used MapBox before, but a quick look suggests it's only applicable for points (rather than polygon boundaries).

To store and server census information onto a web map, you'll probably want some kind of spatial server. Free options include GeoServer and Google Fusion Tables, which can store and serve KML files.

You'll need a viewer with the ability to display the polygons and their attributes. Free options include OpenLayers and Leaflet, and of course the Google Maps API.

An alternative to using a spatial server is to store the census boundaries in GeoJSON. There's a nice example on the Leaflet site here.

There's a good introduction to some popular free GIS programs available on the OpenGeo site.

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where do you get the "polygon boundaries" data? after you get it, it sounds like you put them in GeoJSON and then use "OpenLayers and Leaflet, and of course the Google Maps API." to display them. –  kittensatplay Sep 4 '12 at 20:47
    
none of this says how to take the data from excel and put them onto a map. what are the steps? doesn't have to be a web map. –  kittensatplay Sep 4 '12 at 20:54
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Fair enough - I assumed some knowledge of GIS, since this is a GIS-specific site. You may need to look into GIS basics to get started. See QGIS for a free desktop GIS. You'll need to source the census data from somewhere (which city/country are you in?) and likely perform some processing. You'll need to join the attributes from Excel to the polygon boundaries, so that the values from Excel can be displayed spatially. –  Stephen Lead Sep 4 '12 at 22:33
    
instead of making a new question thread, i'll ask here: is there any easy way to dl the "shapefile" or "boundaries" from zipmaps.net/California/San_Francisco_County/Z_Downtown.htm -- for the census data, i eventually want to do the world, but right now -- gis.stackexchange.com/questions/32797/how-to-download-all-census-2010-statistics‌​-onto-postgresql-postgis –  kittensatplay Sep 4 '12 at 22:42
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The "how to map zipcodes" link is very thorough and should answer your questions –  Stephen Lead Sep 5 '12 at 1:47
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