Don’t Make a Map

Martin Burch, data developer for the Wall Street Journal, has posted his presentation from the GeoJourNews 2016 conference. Called “Don’t Make a Map,” it explores situations where presenting your data in the form of a map is actually a bad idea, and looks at some better alternatives. “Always make a map,” he concludes, “but don’t always publish it.” Very much in the vein of similar pieces by Darla Cameron (of the Washington Post) and Matthew Ericson (of the New York Times). [Carla Astudillo]

Previously: The End of Maps in Seven Charts.

Comparing Google and Apple Map Styles

Justin O’Beirne, who has previously mused about the possibility of a Universal Map and looked at how Google Maps has changed over the past few years, has now embarked on a multi-part comparison of the cartographic designs of Google Maps and Apple Maps. “We’ll take a look at what’s on each map and how each map is styled, and we’ll also try to uncover the biggest differences between the two.” The first part is already up: it looks at city labels, highway markers, road labels, and points of interest, and reveals some interesting divergences in terms what each platform chooses to put on the map. (Note that it’s a very big page, and even on a fast connection the images may take some time to load.) [Cartophilia]

‘What Happened to Google Maps?’

obeirne-google

In an essay called “What Happened to Google Maps?” Justin O’Beirne notes that between 2010 and 2016 Google Maps has changed from emphasizing cities at the expense of roads to emphasizing the road network at the expense of cities—a turn he chalks up to the shift to mobile device usage—and turns to a 1960s-era paper map to demonstrate what he thinks a balanced Google Maps should look like. An interesting look at the design choices in online maps. [Cartophilia]

Data Visualization’s ‘Dirty Little Secret’ and Choropleth Maps

The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham compares two choropleth maps of U.S. population growth: while they look rather different, they use the same data. “The difference between my map and Pew’s—again, they both use the exact same data set—underscores a bit of a dirty little secret in data journalism: Visualizing data is as much an art as a science. And seemingly tiny design decisions—where to set a color threshold, how many thresholds to set, etc.—can radically alter how numbers are displayed and perceived by readers.” [Andy Woodruff]

(Worth mentioning that this is exactly the sort of thing dealt with in Mark Monmonier’s How to Lie with Maps.)

The Design Details of Interactive Maps

Axis Maps’s Dave Heyman offers some advice on interactive map design—specifically, on the details, like colour usage and data interfaces. “Academic cartography provides good guidelines for thematic cartography, but interactivity and user-interface design are often ‘I know it when I see it’ type of things. What follows are 4 quick design concepts and techniques that can be applied in many situations to improve the look and feel of an interactive map.” [via]

New National Maps of Switzerland

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Switzerland is updating its official map series. The new maps are digitally based and use new fonts, symbols and colours—railways, for example, are now in red. They replace the 1:25,000 series that dates back to the 1950s; all 247 sheets should be replaced by 2019. You can compare the old and new map designs on this interactive map (screencap above). [via]

A Multilingual Map of India

Arun Ganesh talks about making a multilingual map of India: “Hardly anyone in India even knows that OSM can handle regional languages, simply because its not visible anywhere on the map. After some recent interest from the community in making regional language maps for openstreetmap.in, I decided to give this a shot to make a multilingual place map for India using OSM and Mapbox Studio that I have been playing with recently.”

The New York Tube Map

New York Tube_v2

Cameron Booth’s latest project is a New York subway map in the form of the London Tube Map: “A little while ago, someone asked me on my Transit Maps blog whether I had ever seen a map of the New York subway system in the style of the London Underground diagram. Rather surprisingly, I hadn’t actually come across one, so I decided to draw one up myself.”

I’m surprised someone hasn’t done one already, but then there’s the problem of service pattern complexity unique to New York, which Cam handles by simply not handling it—making this a design exercise rather than a usable map. “The map certainly looks attractive, but the Tube Map’s style is ill-suited to the intricate working complexities of the New York subway system.”

Previously: Redrawing the London Tube Map.

Drawing Inspiration from Print Maps

Saman Bemel Benrud, a designer at Mapbox, looks to print maps for inspiration. “I like looking at print maps because they remind me how far web map design has to go. Even an average print map involves a designer making thousands of small decisions about where to place individual features and how to kern and size each label,” he writes. “You can’t work like that with web maps that are global and zoomable.” Still, he provides some favourite design elements from paper maps; it’d be interesting to see how they might be rendered online.

Maptorian Plus Kickstarter Campaign Launched

Three years ago Alejandro Polanco (who blogs about maps in Spanish at La Cartoteca) launched Maptorian, a collection of editable vector maps aimed at graphic designers, journalists, teachers, students and others who need to make maps, know how to use applications like Adobe Illustrator but don’t have a GIS background. Now a Kickstarter campaign has launched for the improved-expanded-updated sequel, Maptorian Plus. Read Alejandro’s post (in Spanish).

The End of Maps in Seven Charts

Here’s a short talk from last year by Washington Post graphics editor Darla Cameron, who points out that many maps actually show population density rather than the data they purport to show. “Just because you have geographic data, that doesn’t mean that a map is a best way to tell the story.” She offers some alternative ways to present information—non-cartographic ways—that in some cases do a better job than a map could. (Heretical, I know.) In a similar vein, read the blog post by Matthew Ericson that she refers to at the end of the talk: “When Maps Shouldn’t Be Maps.” [via]

Cartographic Design Principles

A couple of years ago the Ordnance Survey posted a series of cartographic design principles to inform and promote “good map design.” The principles are understanding user requirements, a consideration of the display format (e.g., paper vs. web), simplicitylegibilityconsistencyaccessibility (everything from data format to colourblind inclusiveness to licensing), a clear visual hierarchy, and good composition. (Last year the Ordnance Survey’s blog published a series of posts on these principles, using mostly similar text but different examples.)