Daniel Huffman’s “Root-and-Branch” Airline Route Map

Daniel Huffman had the opportunity to redesign an airline’s route map for their in-flight magazine. He came up with the above design, which in the end the client decided against, but he talks about how he came up with it in this blog post. He calls it a cartogram, because he’s expanding or shrinking the continents to account for where the routes are clustered (which I guess kind of counts); and he’s adopted what he calls a “root-and-branch” style to avoid the cluttering and overlapping of multiple lines. It’s a fascinating read, particularly if you like learning about the mapmaking process.

Before Beck: The Prior Art of Diagrammatic Transit Maps

George Dow, “Great Northern Suburban Lines Route Diagram,” 1929.

Harry Beck may have created the iconic Tube map, which substituted a schematic diagram of the network for a geographically accurate map, but he didn’t invent the diagrammatic transit map. Alberto Cairo points to a number of pieces that explore examples of diagrammatic maps that were contemporaneous with or earlier than Beck’s work: Asaf Degani’s article in Ergonomics in Design points to the influence of designer F. H. Stingemore (see p. 12); Douglas Rose’s online essay comparing Beck with George Dow; and there’s a 2005 book by Andrew Dow (George’s son), Telling the Passenger Where to Get Off: George Dow and the Evolution of the Railway Diagrammatic Map. None of which is meant to diminish Beck’s achievement (I think), but serves to remind us that no innovation ever occurs in a vacuum. [Kenneth Field]

A Look at European Bus Map Design

Transit map designer Jug Cerović has reposted a look at the state of the art of European bus network maps. “I have studied more than 250 European cities and their bus maps, and have also designed a few. Here are some observations about the state of the practice.” He groups bus maps into three categories, based on how they use colour: maps that use colour to show the technology used (bus, metro, subway); maps that use colour to indicate individual lines; and maps that use colour and width to show bus frequency. Now Jug shows examples of each, and goes through the pros and cons, but he does have some skin in this game: he’s a fan of frequency maps, which he suggests solves the problems of the other two kinds, and in fact has produced frequency maps for Luxembourg (above) and Utrecht. Definitely worth a read if you’re interested in transit map design.

Previously: INAT London Metro MapOne Metro World.

Colour Differences in Metro Maps

Scientific American reprints a 2016 article from The Mathematical Intelligencer on an obscure, but important, corner of transit map design: how to choose a colour for a metro line. The discussion is rather math heavy (and therefore above my pay grade), but the gist is that for ease of use lines’ colours should look as different from one another as possible, and it gets more complicated as you add more lines. “Not only must the new colors be unlike the old ones, but also they must differ from each other as much as possible.” The article discusses the math involved in choosing new colours. [WMS]

Previously: The Transit Line Colour Palette.

Examples of Multivariate Maps

Jim Vallandingham looks at multivariate maps:

There are many types of maps that are used to display data. Choropleths and Cartograms provide two great examples. I gave a talk, long long ago, about some of these map varieties.

Most of these more common map types focus on a particular variable that is displayed. But what if you have multiple variables that you would like to present on a map at the same time?

Here is my attempt to collect examples of multivariate maps I’ve found and organize them into a loose categorization. Follow along, or dive into the references, to spur on your own investigations and inspirations!

Jim’s examples of maps that display more than one variable include 3D maps, multicolour choropleth maps, multiple small maps, and embedded charts and symbols. Useful and enlightening.

New Map Books for September 2017

Map books coming out this month:

The Art of Cartographics (Goodman) is available now in the U.K. but won’t come out in North America until March 2018. The publisher describes it as “a stunning collection of maps designed in a unique way. […] This carefully curated book selects the most creative and interesting map design projects from around the world, and offers inspiration for designers and map-lovers alike. Covering themes including power, gentrification, literature, animals, plants and food, and showcasing handrawn, painted, digital, 3D sculpted and folded maps, Cartographics offers a slice of social history that is as beautiful as it is fascinating.” Buy at Amazon U.K. | Pre-order at Amazon

In a similar vein, while the British edition of Where the Animals Go, a compendium of spectacular maps of animal paths, came out last November, U.S. readers have had to wait until now: W. W. Norton is publishing the U.S. edition, and it comes out next week. Buy at Amazon

Also out next week: the National Geographic Atlas of Beer (National Geographic). I have no information about the quantity or quality of the maps therein, but according to the publisher the book does have some: “The most visually stunning and comprehensive beer atlas available, this richly illustrated book includes more beers and more countries than any other book of its kind. Including beer recommendations from Garrett Oliver, the famed brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery, and written by ‘beer geographers’ Nancy Hoalst-Pullen and Mark Patterson, this indispensable guide features more than 100 illuminating maps and over 200 beautiful color photos.” Buy at Amazon

Related: Map Books of 2017.

A Year’s Worth of Changes in Google and Apple Maps

Justin O’Beirne is back with a look at how both Google and Apple Maps have changed incrementally over the past year.

Shortly after I published my Cartography Comparison last June, I noticed Google updating some of the areas we had focused on[.]

Coincidence or not, it was interesting. And it made me wonder what else would change, if we kept watching. Would Google keep adding detail? And would Apple, like Google, also start making changes?

So I wrote a script that takes monthly screenshots of Google and Apple Maps. And thirteen months later, we now have a year’s worth of images […]

It’s cool to see how much Google Maps has changed over the past year. But it’s also surprising to see how little Apple Maps has changed[.]

Previously: What Happened to Google Maps?; The Universal Map; Comparing Google and Apple Map Styles.

When Users Don’t Interact with Interactive Maps

Brian Timoney responds to the argument that few users actually interact with interactive infographics with some thoughts on how that might apply to online maps, with their sometimes-complicated, GIS-derived user interfaces. His suggestions? Static maps, small multiples, animated GIFs, text-based search—simpler, more user-friendly, more familiar UIs and ways to present mapped data.

The Transit Line Colour Palette

MIT grad student Ari Ofsevit created an infographic showing the colours used to mark transit lines by a number of different North American transit agencies and posted it to Twitter last month, where he got all kinds of feedback. (One response pointed out that the colour choices aren’t great for red-green colour blindness.) Ofsevit, who also makes hiking trail maps in the style of transit maps, is running a Kickstarter to create a poster of the transit palette. [Next City]

New York Times Maps Receive Infographic Award

The New York Times

The New York Times Graphics Department was recognized at the 25th Malofiej International Infographics Awards, where the jury awarded the special Miguel Urabayen Award for the best map to two Times maps: “Trump’s America” in the printed category and “The Two Americas of 2016” (above) in the online category. Press release. [The History of Cartography Project]

Atlas of Design, Volume 3

The third volume of the Atlas of Design is now available for pre-order and will ship some time this month. The Atlas’s 32 maps are listed here; Wired’s report has a gallery of some of them. At least one or two will probably look familiar to my regular readers. Published by the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS), the 98-page book costs $35 (with a 25 percent discount for NACIS members like me).

The Financial Times Searches for a Better Election Map

The Financial Times
The Financial Times

Martin Stabe of the Financial Times looks at the paper’s options for displaying the 2016 U.S. presidential results. Which to use, map or cartogram? In the end, neither: they’re going with a dot map—a compromise “that attempts to take the best from the other methods.”

The white underlying geographic map places states in their familiar size, shape and location, allowing them to be identified quickly. Using a cluster of dots rather than a solid fill to represent the outcome ensures that the amount of red and blue on the map accurately reflects states’ weight in the election outcome, rather than the (irrelevant) surface area.

Like the tiled grid cartogram, the number of electoral votes in each state is easy to compare visually without counting or interpreting numbers printed on the map. Because each electoral vote is a discrete mark, it is possible to accurately represent the split electoral votes that are possible in Maine and Nebraska, or the possibility of a faithless elector.

Technical details and source code here.

Previously: A Primer on Election Map CartographyMore Election Cartography Primers.

How the Transit App Got Its Curves

transit-appThe makers of the Transit app (iPhone, Androidlike to point out that whereas Apple’s transit maps are beautiful but basically hand-drawn and added manually and slowly, and Google’s maps are algorithmically generated but look terrible, their maps are algorithmically generated but look smooth and neat. A technical post by their backend developer explains in ridiculous detail how they managed to auto-generate their smooth, curved transit network maps.