Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

UK election map and swingometer (Guardian)

Friday, April 30th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Cartograms (1, 2) are all the storm in the UK in the lead up to the general election later this month. I first noted them via the Financial Times's print edition graphic and then came across this interactive version done by the Guardian (screenshot above). It combines the geography view typical in the US with a cartogram of the same. The cartogram does better at showing overall trends since each enumeration unit (election district) is the same size, where on the geography view some districts are super large and some (around London) are tiny as they are sized by area rather than population / electors. The Guardian's online version has search function as well as mouse over and the geography view zooms in to reveal those tiny districts. What's super amazing is the swingometer. It allows the user to see what would happen if the electorate "swings" towards one party or another both in numbers and on the maps. This would be fabulous to see in the US for our midterms. Quibbles with their map: I can't click and drag in the geography view to move the map, nor can I click and drag the detail box in the UK context map in the geography view. Overall A+ effort. And yet another reason why Steve Jobs, bless his heart, is crazy for thinking HTML5 should be the only game in town. These types of maps excel in Flash's compiled plugin runtime.]

Republished from the Guardian. Monday 5 April 2010.
By Mark McCormick, Jenny Ridley, Alastair Dant, Martin Shuttleworth

Browse the 2010 constituencies and use the three-way swingometer to see how different scenarios affect the outcome. This map is based on 2005 figures, notional or actual, and does not take account of byelection results. Full explanation here

Interact with the original at the Guardian . . .

IndieMapper: Make quality maps without expensive GIS

Friday, April 16th, 2010

[Editor's note: Announced at NACIS in Sacramento October 2009, Indiemapper is now live and priced at $30 / month. The online mapping service allows you to upload data into an easy to use GIS interactive map tool and make beautiful cartographic maps leveraging Color Brewer, TypeBrewer, and Natural Earth. Maps can be shared or published online or export to Illustrator for high-quality print output. Check it out! ]

Republished from Axis Maps.

Indiemapper is the smarter, easier, more elegant way to make thematic maps from digital data.

Indiemapper brings traditional cartography into the 21st century. It’s platform independent, location independent and huge-software-budget independent.

Indiemapper closes the gap between data and map by taking a visual approach to map-making. See your data. Make your map. For the first time ever, it’s just that simple.

why indiemapper?

  • Real-time, visual editing.
  • No software to download or update.
  • Expert advice for every step of the mapping process.
  • Professional colors from ColorBrewer, type from TypeBrewer, and basemaps from Natural Earth.
  • Integrates with your existing workflow; use data from ArcGIS and Google Earth and export to Illustrator and Photoshop.
  • Easily create trivariate label, bivariate proportional symbol maps and bivariate cartograms.
  • Load shapefile, KML and GPX files.
  • Choropleth, dot density, proportional symbol and cartogram mapping.
  • Online saving and file versioning.
  • Access full map history and roll back to any previous version of your maps.
  • Collaborate with your team; invite other users to share, edit, and add comments to a map.
  • Manage billing for multiple accounts.
  • Work in local mode to keep your data stored only on your local computer.
  • Support for most major map projections.
  • Map layout for print and screen.
  • Export to vector SVG and JPEG / PNG.
  • Save your data and map into a single file.

Continue reading at Axis Maps . . .

What Illustrator CS5 means for cartographers

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

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[Editor's note: I've been using CS5 for a while now and I think you'll like it as much as I do. This release is focused on making existing work flows easier, faster, and more enjoyable. Check out the official promo at Adobe. Mordy has a great screencast showing off some of these features, as well.]

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Joining lines

  • Freehand-style line joining! No longer required to select endpoints of two line, it just works with 2 or more lines selected. Did I mention it works on more than 2 lines at once? Super smart, huge time saver.
  • Caveat: if you are looking for very complicated GIS-style (angle, gap, etc) line joining, you’ll still need to use an advanced plugin. This one will work 90% of the time.

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Select behind

  • Like Freehand and InDesign
  • Quibble: Doesn’t work on strokes, only on fill

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Symbols

  • Now can have layers! This will allow us to work around many long standing sublayer bugs.
  • Can have masks and not selectable beyond the mask (if content is not visible, it is not selectable)
  • Bounding box no longer includes guides
  • Selection based on content, not bounding box
  • Actually use the registration point
  • Can transform symbols with respect to the registration point.
  • 9-slice scaling now works, have guides for them (important for preserving the shape of corners when scaled)
  • Breaking link to symbol preserves symbol sublayers
  • Can align the symbol content to the pixel grid (for pretty web output)
  • Quibble: Before you could register via the bounding box (using preview bounds). Now you can’t. Instead, set a key object and then use 0 as the offset and use the distribute space button.

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Strokes

  • Variable width (think tapered streams, see screenshot below)
  • Better corner control (miter, see screenshot below)
  • Better dashing (including centering dashes on corners, see screenshot below)
  • Better arrowheads (registered to the tip of the line or beyond the tip of the line)
  • Setup width profiles (even on calligraphic brushes and pattern brushes)
  • Segmented art brushes (similar to 9-slice scaling for symbols, no longer distorted shapes)

Fills

  • Pattern fill now stable between artboards (they don’t shift)

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Pixel Perfect Drawing

  • Get your artwork to the web with crisp, on pixel lines rather than grey anti-aliased crap.
  • Also Flash- and Photoshop-style text anti-alias settings
  • See pixel grid on zoom in
  • Quibble: only works at 100% 72 ppi. If you scale up your artwork to get it on the web via Save For Web, this will not work for you. You must scale it up before exporting.

Draw behind mode

  • Or in front or inside, like Flash.
  • Useful for cartoonists, especially.

Flash (FXG) exchange format

  • Better round tripping of graphics to Flash for interactive graphics
  • Made for working with Flash Catalyst

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Artboards

  • Can now be named!
  • Easier to reorder, delete empty artboards
  • Can rearrange artboards automatically.

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Rulers

  • Now measure Y down rather than up
  • Measure per artboard and globally.
  • Paste in same “relative” place across multiple artboards at once
  • Makes consistent with Photoshop, Flash, InDesign and most other design apps
  • For us programmers, the true mathematical Y measures up is still there, though

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Shape builder

  • Making a map icon? You’ll find Shape Builder way more intuitive to use than the Pathfinder panel buttons
  • Just click and drag between part, kinda like Live Paint.

Resolution independent effects

  • Now changing the document raster effects resolution (or scaling the object up and down will NOT change the actual effect spread)
  • This is important for “design once, distribute in web, print, etc”

Other stuff

  • Bristle brush is very cool for artists
  • New perspective grid for axiametric drawing
  • Gradient mesh now allows transparency in nodes

Wordalizer tag cloud script for InDesign | A Tribute to Wordle (Indiscripts)

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Looks like my earlier post on Wordle helped Marc Atret implement tag clouds (word clouds) in InDesign.]

Republished from Indiscripts.

Wordalizer is a word cloud builder for InDesign CS4. Try now the beta version of this experimental script —inpired by the magnificent Wordle web tool created by Jonathan Feinberg.

I began to work on Wordalizer for InDesign in September 2008! Jonathan Feinberg had just launched its brilliant Wordle Java applet and I was highly impressed by the typographical perfection that Wordle could reach in word clouding. I was naively dreaming to operate the same way from the InDesign DOM! Too much confident in my scripting abilities, I still hadn’t realized how powerful the Feinberg’s core algorithm was, until I found this post on “Kelso’s Corner” blog. Feinberg says: “It’s not quite ‘simple bounding box,’ which wouldn’t permit words inside words, or nestling up to ascenders and descenders. It’s full glyph intersection testing, but with a sprinkle of CS applied to make it work at interactive speeds.”

Yes indeed! The hardest part of the whole challenge is in speeding up hit-tests, and you can’t imagine what this Java performance problem looks like when translated into the InDesign JS context! After remaining at a standstill for a long time, I decided to start my script from the beginning again.

Continue reading at Indiscripts . . .

GPS + MultiPlayer Game = Build digital fort in your back yard (Parallel Kingdom)

Friday, March 19th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Amusing take on RPGs mashed up with GPS on a Google Maps tile background. For iPhone and Android devices. Hey, isn't that Madison, Wisconsin?]

Republished from Parallel Kingdom.

Parallel Kingdom is a mobile location based massively multiplayer game that uses your GPS location to place you in a virtual world on top of the real world.

Read more on their site . . .

More Multi-touch Links (Random Etc.)

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

[Editor's note: See earlier posts on Google Maps multitouch and AS3 in Flash, Flex, and Air, and 3rd. From Tom Carden, a San Francisco-based programmer and designer at Stamen Design.]

Republished from Random Etc.

Here’s a nice overview of how touch events are modelled in mobile Safari on the iphone. Here’s a student paper detailing some multi-touch code architectures and actual code too.

Here’s a nice article on single point gesture recognition for games, here are lovely simple single stroke and multi-stroke gesture recognisers in javascript. Here’s the corresponding paper. Here’s a paper about modelling gestures using Markov chains.

And here’s a gesture recognition discussion thread featuring some of the above links and many more.

‘One of the worst graphics the New York Times have published – ever!’ (Alberto Cairo via Visual Journalism)

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Are increasingly complex graphics (visual confections / data visualizations), aka chart porn & eye/brain candy, necessarily good at conveying essential information to readers? Alberto Cairo says no, see below. I have to wonder if he means just for daily minute-read journalism or for publications that have a tradition of offering readers, say, tear-out map supplements and posters they like to admire and reexamine. This might have been raised by the 2008 box office graphic from the NY Times, implementing a steamgraph, but the general question applies to all infographic professionals. We have awesome new tools and datasets, but we still need to focus on fundamentals, beyond interesting and visually appealing, to consider what as Lee Byron calls the "interplay between considerations of aesthetics and legibility."

From Edward Tufte (p121 in Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative):

A confection is an assembly of many visual events, selected ... from various Streams of Story, then brought together and juxtaposed on the still flatland of paper. By means of a multiplicity of image-events, confections illustrate an argument, present and enforce visual comparisons, combine the real and the imagined, and tell us yet another story.

Tufte actually shows a similar chart to the NYT box office example  in the same work from the cover of "Rock 'N' Roll is Here to Pay: The History and Politics of the Music Industry". He says of the Rock and Roll example: "The multiple, parallel flows locate music-makers in two dimensions – linking musical parents and offspring from 1955 to 1974, and listing contemporaries for each year."

But what fundamentals and what audience? A later NY Times graphic on How Different Groups Spend Their Day resolves part of the box office problem with an ability to focus (isolate) parts of the stream into a standard axis chart and thus read and compare quantitatively. Much less complicated, but also on a standard axis: Jackson’s Billboard Rankings Over Time. I don't entirely buy the similar axis baseline argument as I'm a fan of graduated circle maps, but reading them is certainly not for the average reader and must be augmented with summary charting and text.

But the box office chart is more approachable (read fun and inviting) then simple charting per Why Is Her Paycheck Smaller. But I think simple axis presentation of Taking apart the federal budget is easier to read at first glance then the multi-axis Obama’s 2011 Budget Proposal: How It’s Spent, even if I use the same approach in the Washington Post's Potus Tracker to analyze Obama's schedule. At the core is trying to make increasingly complex datasets (2) grockable visually. Have fun figuring it out and in the meantime enjoy this XKCD comic ;)]

Republished from .

Alberto Cairo is a former professor at Chapel Hill, where he taught online graphics. Before that he was the succesful graphics director at El Mundo Online. In short: This guy knows what he is talking about, when it comes to both printed and online graphics …

Today Alberto took a critical look at the current data-visualization-trend, which got a huge boost last year, when New York Times took home a gold medal and even the ‘Best of Show’-award for a certain Box Office graphic. Regular readers of this site will remember the discussion we had last year after the awards. Click here to read it again.

Emperor’s new clothes
What Alberto is saying out in the open now, has been floating around for a while. But apparently only a few dare to say that graphics are getting too complicated – for fear of being looked upon as stupid, if they dare challenge such abstract wonders. I can’t help to think of the Emperor’s new clothes, whenever such a situation takes place.

Continue reading and view video of Alberto at

Flash and Standards: The Cold War of the Web (A List Apart)

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

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[Editor's note: A sane approach to the HTML versus Flash "war": ceasefire. Get on with designing great site around great content for your readers.]

Republished from A List Apart.
By Dan Mall.

You’ve probably heard that Apple recently announced the iPad. The absence of Flash Player on the device seems to have awakened the HTML5 vs. Flash debate. Apparently, it’s the final nail in the coffin for Flash.

The arguments run wide, strong, and legitimate on both sides. Apple CEO Steve Jobs calls Flash Player buggy. John Gruber of Daring Fireball says that Apple wants to maintain their own ecosystem—a formula Adobe’s software doesn’t easily fit into. On the other end, Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch argues that Flash is a great content delivery vehicle. Mike Chambers, Principal Product Manager for Flash platform developer relations at Adobe, expresses his concerns over closed platforms. Interactive developer Grant Skinner reflects on the advantages of Flash.

However, the issue is larger than which one is better. It’s about preference and politics. It’s an arms race. This is the Cold War of the Web.

Ceasefire

Both the standards community and the Flash community are extremely good at sharing knowledge and supporting the people within their respective groups. The relationship across communities, however, isn’t nearly as cordial. Two things are happening: either the people within each camp stay to themselves, or one ignorantly hurls insults at the other.

As new technologies emerge, their following naturally starts small. An effective rallying cry is to find—or create—a common enemy. Huge strides such as Doug Bowman’s Wired redesign, Dave Shea’s CSS Zen Garden, and Jeffrey Zeldman’s Designing With Web Standards had a significant influence, not only on the standards community, but on the entire web design industry. They positioned standards as an alternative to Flash and table-based sites, not in conflict with them. However, less enlightened followers wrongly interpreted these champions’ examples as the first assault. As Adobe Photoshop Principal Product Manager John Nack says, “people want a certain ‘killer’ narrative.”

Continue reading at A List Apart . . .

ColorBrewer in ArcMap, updated to version 2.0 (via Weary Ramblings)

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

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[Editor's note: Struggling to pick colors in ArcMap or need to ensure your design meets federal accessibility standards for vision impairment? ColorBrewer.org has been updated to version 2.0 and now a ArcMap plugin brings some functionality right into your GIS. It's not clear to me if the "Terrain overlay" option for previewing the colors takes into account the muted nature / secondary HSV mixing of the colors, I don't recommend using that part just yet.]

Republished from National Cancer Institute.
Seen at Weary Ramblings.

ColorTool is a plugin for ArcMap™ (part of the ESRI ArcGIS Desktop suite) that helps users create choropleth maps using ColorBrewer color ramps.

The program runs from a button in the toolbar and opens a form that guides the user in choosing a classification scheme. For more information on the color options, visit ColorBrewer.org. ColorTool supports Quantile, Equal Interval, Natural Breaks (Jenks), and Unique Value classification types.

Download the ColorTool plugin . . .

Along with the plugin, the main ColorBrewer site has been upgraded to version 2.0

Republished from Free Geography Tools.

ColorBrewer is an online Flash app designed to help select appropriate data coloring schemes for maps, including sequential (choropleths), diverging (data with break points), and qualitative (discrete categorical data). I’ve covered version 1.0 before, and now ColorBrewer 2.0 is out. Not a huge number of functional differences, but some useful additions (and one disappointing subtraction):

  • More parameters are selected by drop-down boxes instead of buttons; bit faster this way
  • All controls are on the left side, making them easier to find
  • You can now choose between a colored background and a terrain background
  • Color transparency can now be set between 0 and 100%
  • More choices for background, road, city and border colors
  • You can now screen color schemes by appropriateness for color blindness, photocopying and print. In version 1.0, you only had icons showing which uses were appropriate, and these are still available in the “Score Card” tab at lower right
  • More options for color scheme export directly from the program, including an Excel file of all available color schemes, export in Adobe Swatch Exchange format (ASE), and in-program text hex color codes for copying and pasting into graphics programs.
  • No more map zoom; I miss this option.

What is GeoDesign and why is it important (ESRI + GeoInformatics)

Monday, March 15th, 2010

[Editor's note: Like mashups, but in ArcGIS and analytical without programming skills. Sounds like CommunityViz but is more generally the "pairing of design and GIS. It unites the art and creativity of design (planning) with the power and science of geospatial technology. As one, GeoDesign can produce more informed, data-based design options and decisions." This drive will introduce modeling, sketching, and feedback capabilities in ESRI's ArcGIS Desktop 10, set for release in the second quarter of 2010. Looks like it will rely more on GIS services (web apps and 2) and more validating of resulting feature topology by GIS techs. Recently concluded mini-conference on GeoDesign has streaming video clips. This article is also good. Thanks @geoparadigm and @gisuser.]

Republished from ESRI and GEO Informatics.

What is GeoDesign?
GeoDesign is a set of techniques and enabling technologies for planning built and natural environments in an integrated process, including project conceptualization, analysis, design specification, stakeholder participation and collaboration, design creation, simulation, and evaluation (among other stages). “GeoDesign is a design and planning method which tightly couples the creation of design proposals with impact simulations informed by geographic contexts.” [1] Nascent geodesign technology extends geographic information systems so that in addition to analyzing existing environments and geodata, users can synthesize new environments and modify geodata. Learn more about GeoDesign on Wikipedia.

Read more at ESRI ArcWatch . . .

Jack Dangermond on GeoDesign:
“In January [ESRI hosted] the first GeoDesign Summit. It will bring people from both the GIS and design fields together and have them share their work and get a conversation going. I’m not totally sure what the outcome is going to be, but I’m hoping a new profession or direction will emerge. I think we need this kind of mixing at this point to bring these two fields together; people who design the world with people who design the future. Today, geography lives very well in its world and designers live very well in their world, but there’s not this cross-mixing. I believe the outcome will be much enlightened ways to do development; ways that bring science into how we design things: cities, the environment, highways, everything that we do. Today we certainly see the need for this all the way from global warming to designing more livable and sustainable cities. We need more geographic thinking in the way we make decisions. GeoDesign is an attempt to try to do something about that.”

Read more at GEO Informatics . . .

What does it mean for GIS discipline:
“It is not so much that geodesign is new, but rather that technology has reached a point that allows artists to participate in the geodesign process – without becoming technologists.” (Kirk at GeoThought) It still requires good (accurate, precise) base maps and themes in GIS to enable smart decision making (geodesign) on the desktop and in the cloud (web apps). Instead GIS techs being puck jockeys, the planning folks will be able to use the GIS directly, or it’ll seem that way to them ;) I used to work somewhere where the boss had desktop design apps installed and he could comp out designs, but they still had to be rebuilt to production specs. My guess is the same will be true with GeoDesign for a good bit yet. Meanwhile, focus on core competencies.

Learn more at the ESRI Developers User Conference later this month . . .