Posts Tagged ‘map’

Sparkmaps? (Cartogrammar)

Monday, June 1st, 2009

lynch_imageelements

Andy Woodruff has a neat post over at Cartogrammar about Sparkmaps, a riff on Tufte’s sparkline concept (1, 2).In essence: “Tiny, non-intrusive supplemental maps … As a sparkline provides at a glance a reasonably clear picture of numerical data, so can a small map provide context and clarify otherwise confusing or vague text.” We’ve started to include small Google Maps mashups in the sidebar of some Washington Post articles the last month. We occationally use another tool that allows a Google Maps mashup to appear on hover of a hyperlinked placename. Less discoverable, so effective only when the geography is completely anciliary to the story.

Read his post at Cartogrammar . . .

Salt & Pepper Shaker Map of the United States (Krygier)

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

salt-pepper-map-side

[Editor's note: Useful map art, vernacular maps? Well, I don't need 50 salt and pepper shakers, but the collection is cool.]

Republished from John Krygier’s Making Maps: DIY Cartography.

A set of salt and pepper shakers, one each for the 48 contiguous U.S. states.

Read more at Making Maps: DIY Cartography . . .

How Can You Tell What Map Scales Are Shown For Online Maps? (ESRI)

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

scales_table

[Editor's note: I'm working on a group base map project that will be released in October that is for mapping at the 1:10,000,000 (1:10m) scale and smaller (regional continental to global at small print dimensions). I want this data to be easily used with online mapping services, but converting Google map tile set "levels" to natural scale equivelants isn't obvious. I remembered seeing this table at last year's NACIS conference in Missoula, Montana. Charlie Frye was kind enough to remind me where to find it on the ESRI site.]

Republished from ESRI Mapping Center.

As you zoom in (or out) of the online maps you see on Virtual Earth (VE) or Google Maps (GM), you are actually seeing a series of different maps with slightly different information displayed at each zoom level. Zoom level is indicated and controlled in an online map by the vertical zoom slider, like the one shown at the left in the image here. Whenever the zoom level is changed, a different map is shown.

Of course, these maps are well designed so that viewers are largely unaware that they are seeing these different maps. The foundation for good design of an “online map” hinges on understanding how to design for each of the zoom level represented in the entire online map. Colors, fonts, number of and types of features, etc. are all seriously considered when each of the maps is created for each of the zoom levels.

When authoring this kind of online map with ArcGIS, a map document containing group layers, one for each zoom level, is a good approach. (The Working with layers and scale ranges blog entry provides a good overview of how to organize a map document this way.) Each zoom level in the online map is represented by your work at a specific map scale in the ArcMap document. The hard part is to figure out which zoom level matches to which map scale. There are twenty zoom levels for Virtual Earth or Google Maps. The corresponding map scales that you would design and create your maps at if you wanted them to mash up on VE or GM are:

Continue reading at ESRI Mapping Center . . .

Manhattan Mapped Without a Horizon (Gizmodo)

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

uptownmap

[Editor's note: A novel map projection based more on a fish-eye lens topology of near and far from both uptown and downtown perspectives. Thanks Melissa and Curt!]

Republished from Gizmodo.
By Mark Wilson, Tue May 5 2009.

It’s rare that we get excited over maps, but this idea by graphic designers Jack Schulze and Matt Webb would be great for GPSs, combining 3D, first person and overhead views into one übermap.

The art project, called Here & There, bends the world into horizon-less, roller coaster loop topography, which allows the viewer to see their position from the first person perspective (complete with those 3D buildings that usually just get in the way) alongside the route/terrain to come.

For now, the designers’ work is available in limited edition prints only that go for $65 (per a set of two). But we can still dream that someone like Google, Apple or Garmin might come around and drop a big pile of money on the small agency before automating this visualization for real time navigation. [Here & There and Background Info via FastCompany]

Interactive San Francisco Airport Map (Kelso)

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

sfairport

[Editor's note: I happened on this interactive map from the San Francisco airport when I flew thru SFO this past weekend as I bid adieu to my California vacation. There is an airport overview and maps of each terminal. Gates, stores, food options, restrooms, and other features are located. Each feature is interactive with a tooltip and small description, including open hours for businesses, and full description in the bottom left corner. Category searches are available in the top left corner and the map will highlight with the appropriate location(s).]

Interact with the original at FlySFO . . .

sfairportsephora

Detail of map above shows result of a food and beverage category querry for the restraunt name.

Transit on Google Maps comes to a Town Near You (Kelso)

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

[Editor's note: When I've traveled to Paris or Beijing I like to take public transit both below and above ground. It gives me a good sense of the people and the place. And it reduces my carbon footprint. But sometimes figuring out transit systems can be irksome. I've got a great pocket atlas of Beijing that shows major bus lines and their stops which is helpful. And Paris offers some good printed material. But figuring out which station or stop is closest to the start and end of the trip is just the beginning. Which route is best? And when will I get there are two important questions. If you've missed it, Google Transit solves many of these challenges. New transit systems are being added monthly, check to see if your city participates.]

I live in metro Washington DC and our transit agency finally released their network topology, routing, scheduling in Google Transit format after a long petition drive. Now 3rd party developers, including Google, can use this to build out web apps or even mobile phone apps like iBART. DCist has coverage of both the recalcitrance of this public agency in giving out data we’ve already paid for as tax payers (sound familiar). Cartographers should use the station and bus stop locations included in these transit feeds to locate these features on their city maps.

Cartographers need to get on the mobile app development bandwagon and provide customers with tools that leverage these types of datasets. Imagine an app that has a proximity sensor / alert for nearby bus or transit stops or tells you the bus you want is coming in 5 minutes, time to pack up. And can do all the routing for you. And can be leveraged to provide the customer with, say, trail routing in the backcountry, too.

Why is transit on Google Maps a big deal? From WorldChanging:

[Including transit on maps and routing] make public transit more accessible and easier for everyone to understand; and in doing so, it will certainly increase transit ridership and reduce driving.

One of the big barriers to public transit use is the knowledge required to use the system: where to wait, when to wait, where to transfer, how much to pay, etc. Some readers may remember that two years ago we helped cause Google Transit to happen, but it’s taken off far beyond what we had suggested, and they keep getting better. What’s more, they’re doing it at no charge to the transit agencies (a perpetually under-funded sector of local governments). More cities are coming on board, as well; if you live in one of the eleven cities now participating, enjoy! If you live elsewhere, consider writing to your local transit agency and telling them to join the 21st century. (ahem… San Francisco, right in Google’s back yard, no excuse… ahem.)

What are these tools? In addition to being able to type in your route and get comprehensive directions (including walking to stations, showing the bus or train route, walking directions between stations, how much it costs, etc.), you can plan trips by departure or arrival time and see when the next couple buses come if you miss the one you’re aiming for. Now, if you zoom in enough on any Google map in the right city, all the transit stops appear, with different icons for bus, light rail, etc.; click on a bus stop and up pops a list of the buses or trains that stop there; click on the bus number, and up pops the timetable for the next several buses stopping there.

Want to get your transit data on the map? Aaron Antrim, who heads Trillium Transit Internet Solutions helps smaller agencies get online with Google Transit, in particular, those small-to-midsized transit agencies that don’t have dedicated IT staffs (ref). Aaron went to the same university as me and is quite active in transit circles.

There’s a petition to add “By bike” like there is “Walking” and “Transit” to Google Maps (ref). See this in action at byCycle.org as seen at Treehugger.

App: iTopoMap for iPhone

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

[Editor's note: Download free USGS topoquads and use the GPS and maps when you're out hiking beyond cell reception and when Google Maps tiles don't work (and don't have good contour lines, creeks, or trails on them anyways). I've used the app and it works exactly as advertised. Thanks Martin!]

Republished in part from Martin’s posts at BackpackingLite.

Just downloaded and started using a new topo app for the iphone called iTopoMaps ($15) (web site). Looks like someone who backpacks and programs has gotten around to designing a topo map application. (There is another app called TopoPointUSA for $10 but I don’t like it as much.)

This app allows you to download and cache USGS topos on your phone freely downloadable through the phone in advance before your hike so that you can use the iPhone while in the wilderness, no need a 3G or cell phone signal. Turns the iPhone into probably the best mapping GPS with no fees to pay for maps.

I used this in Shenandoah today and it worked well. Still no route planning (track or GPX) functionality but apparently it’s coming. It does allow to create waypoints. This app may be what finally justifies my iPhone after 8 months of love/hate.

Feature list:

  • Full 1:24k USGS Quads that can be locally cached on your iPhone
  • Scrollable multi-zoom map interface (likeGoogleMaps!)
  • Full 50 states
  • Waypoints
  • Goto Waypoint – distance and bearing
  • Magnetic Declination Calculations
  • GNIS Database for looking up features and identifiying them on the map!

I think the app hits the USGS google topo map server and downloads the image pyramids there. But they are free and will likely remain free.

You acquire the topos by tapping the screen while connected to the internet. So it does require a signal initially while planning and also requires some advance planning. But I cached all of Shenandoah yesterday before leaving my house while connected to broadband without any problem ( I have about 12Gb of free space on my phone so that helps). Those quads are now stored on my phone and since I visit Shenandoah very frequemtly they will stay on my phone for my next trips. No memory cards to fiddle with, no extra fee to pay to TOPO or Delorme or Garmin. FREE USGS topo Maps.

Ortelius, new Mac GIS software?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Ortelius was demonstrated at the AAG conference in Las Vegas in mid March and looks promising. It’s billed as an affordable middle-way between Adobe Illustrator + MaPublisher and ArcGIS and it works on Macs, which ArcGIS does not. It’s a graphics design package that can import shapefiles and purports knowing object topology. It also has an integrated database so you can view and edit map object attributes. Map projections are supported and the package comes with pre-loaded map files to get you started.

Ortelius is currently under development and version 1.0 will be available in the first quarter of 2009. The intention is to release standard and “pro” versions with a starting price of $79. Thanks to Martin for this tip.

Read more on the MapDiva blog about the product . . .

Mental Map: How China Sees the World (Economist)

Monday, March 30th, 2009

[Editor's note: "Illustration by Jon Berkeley with apologies to Steinberg and The New Yorker". Map illustration shows China's world view / mental map with Tiananmen Square central, the US in the distance, and Europe but a spec on the horizon. This mental map is a good example of a network topology based projection.]

Republished from the March 21st, 2009 print edition of The Economist.

And how the world should see China

IT IS an ill wind that blows no one any good. For many in China even the buffeting by the gale that has hit the global economy has a bracing message. The rise of China over the past three decades has been astonishing. But it has lacked the one feature it needed fully to satisfy the ultranationalist fringe: an accompanying decline of the West. Now capitalism is in a funk in its heartlands. Europe and Japan, embroiled in the deepest post-war recession, are barely worth consideration as rivals. America, the superpower, has passed its peak. Although in public China’s leaders eschew triumphalism, there is a sense in Beijing that the reassertion of the Middle Kingdom’s global ascendancy is at hand (see article).

China’s prime minister, Wen Jiabao, no longer sticks to the script that China is a humble player in world affairs that wants to focus on its own economic development. He talks of China as a “great power” and worries about America’s profligate spending endangering his $1 trillion nest egg there. Incautious remarks by the new American treasury secretary about China manipulating its currency were dismissed as ridiculous; a duly penitent Hillary Clinton was welcomed in Beijing, but as an equal. This month saw an apparent attempt to engineer a low-level naval confrontation with an American spy ship in the South China Sea. Yet at least the Americans get noticed. Europe, that speck on the horizon, is ignored: an EU summit was cancelled and France is still blacklisted because Nicolas Sarkozy dared to meet the Dalai Lama.

Continue reading at The Economist . . .

Interview: 1st Custom Map App Developer for the iPhone (Kelso)

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

[Editor's note: An exciting development as Chris Leger @ Earthrover Software has partnered with Tom Harrison to release several of Tom's California-focused recreation maps the iPhone and iPod Touch, the first such for the platform. Other efforts have wrapped poor functionality around terrible maps and in a couple cases decent gov't National Park Service maps, not original custom cartography. Chris was kind enough to give me an email interview about the product.

As hand held GPS units, mobile platforms like the Apple iPhone and Amazon Kindle all converge, delivering custom maps to these devices will become a more important business opportunity for cartography shops. I see two classes of mobile map applications: (a) raw map with GPS and (b) enhanced map with GPS. Earthrover's maps are a good example of the former while PacMaps's Acadia National Park map app shows how a flat map can be enchanced with a placename index to search locations on the map and possibly even routing information.

So far examples of both solutions use just one map scale. It would be nice to see developers work with cartographers to offer additional custom maps at the zoomed out scales since the raw map isn't legible when zoomed out.

An app that satisfies one or more of these seems destined to do well: (1) pre-trip planning and routing, (2) on-trail location, waypoints, and tracking, and (3) post-trip display show and tell.]

Q: Kelso’s Corner
Who contacted who about developing this app oriented around the recreation maps? I first saw your Mt. Tam Trail Map app ($5 each) and was entranced. Additional titles include: Angeles Front Country Trail Map, Mamoth High Country Trail Map, Point Reyes Trail Map, and San Diego Backcountry Trail Map.

A: Earthrover Software
I contacted Tom [Harrison] about it, and he was willing to give it a try.  I’ve used his maps in the past for trips in California, and my main interest in writing iPhone apps is for field guides and reference information to take into the field.  Having Tom’s maps available was one of the first things to come to mind–his maps are great and are well known, so they’re the obvious choice to have on a mobile device.

Q: Kelso’s Corner
I assume you did the development of the app? How much design review went into the app and it’s functionality?

A: Earthrover Software
Right; I wrote and designed the app.  I spent some time thinking about which features would be worth the complexity of implementing them, did some research to figure out what format to use for the data (PDF versus SVG versus PNG versus …), made a prototype to focus on smooth scrolling and zooming, then kept refining it until there wasn’t anything left on my to-do list.  Since Tom’s underlying map data is of such high quality, I could focus on keeping the user interface fast and tight–there’s not much screen real estate to play with, so every button counts.

Q: Kelso’s Corner
What have your initial sales been like?

A: Earthrover Software
With a few titles out and no advertising apart from our websites, I’d guess we’re averaging about 3-5 sales a day.  This will go up as we add more titles, and hopefully there will be a broader audience for some of the upcoming maps of National Parks.  While it would be nice to have a blockbuster project and pay off the mortgage, I don’t see that in the cards for the types of apps I enjoy writing–which is important since I’m doing this in my spare time, rather than on someone else’s dime.  I’m more interested in expanding sales by taking the underlying engines I now have for maps and field guides, and applying them to more products to appeal to a broader audience.  This has worked well for field guides.  The second one, Wildflowers of the Western Plains, was released today, and five more are in the works.

Q: Kelso’s Corner
Do you anticipate future titles (you must be experiencing some success to keep coming out with titles)?

A: Earthrover Software
Yes, we have more coming.  I submitted the Yosemite Valley Trail Map to Apple today, and Sequoia/Kings Canyon, Yosmite National Park, Death Valley, and Tom’s complete John Muir Trail map set are in the works.

Q: Kelso’s Corner
How long did it take to develop the app?

A: Earthrover Software
It was about a month of calendar time, I think, between me contacting Tom and getting the first app released.  That doesn’t sound like much, but I’m a pretty efficient programmer and put in  a lot of hours that month.

Q: Kelso’s Corner
What kind of testing have you done with it out in the field?

A: Earthrover Software
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I haven’t done any field testing with the apps yet.  I don’t have an iPhone (just an iPod touch), so I can’t really check out the GPS functionality except via IP localization.  Tom does field checks of his maps, so the underlying map data is known to be good, and I use Google Earth to fine-tune the map coordinates in the app.

Q: Kelso’s Corner
How do you see the iPhone 3.0 firmware making it easier to develop this type of product?

A: Earthrover Software
Easier integration with Google Maps will be interesting for many apps, and an obvious update to our apps is to allow the user to switch back and forth with a Google Maps view.  But Google Maps requires a network connection–ruling out use in the field on an iPod touch–and isn’t as fast in zooming and scrolling as our apps.

Conclusion: Kelso’s Corner
Thanks, Chris for sharing your development experience with us and good luck on future titles and projects! I’m sure the new iPhone 3.0 firmware will make it easier to sell a complete line of maps from within a single app instead of forcing users back to the iTunes store. Lots of potential :)