Well overdue, but here is some exciting news. Aaron Mitti and Vincent Spader have joined the Mapnik development team and done a brilliant job improving text rendering. As a result we now have 'follow line' text placement and 'ShieldSymbolizer - combined label/text - very useful for things like motorways. A big thank-you to Aaron and Vince!
I've created a couple of 'Google Maps' demos to demonstrate these and other new features:
The first uses datasets from GeoGratis (Canada)
and the second is based on the entirely free OpenStreetMap
. Great project! I might get myself a GPS and join in.
Tiles for both demos are rendered with simple Python script using Mapnik's bindings and added as a custom layer to the by now familiar GMap2 interface.
Recently I've been able to focus again on Mapnik, and there should more news very soon. Stay tuned!