Data Maps: The Next Level

An interesting post by Young Hahn on map hacking has given me some food for thought with respect to the redesign of the OER Evidence Hub.  This article led me to another, Take Control of Your Maps by Paul Smith.

If I was a better programmer I could probably put some of the ideas to work right away, but as I am not I’ll have to be content with trying to draw some general principles out instead:

  • The core web map UI paradigm is a continuous, pannable, zoomable surface
  • Open mapping tools are better because they allow for more creative use of data through hacks
  • Maps can be more than just complements to narrative:  they can provide narrative structure too
  • Pins highlight locations but also anonymise them:   use illustrations instead like in the Sherlock Holmes demo
  • Google Maps is good at what it does, but restrictive in some design respects and any manipulation is likely to play havoc with the APIs
  • “Users interact with your mapping application primarily through a JavaScript or Flash library that listens to user events, requests tiles from the map server, assembles tiles in the viewport, and draws additional elements on the map, such as popups, markers, and vector shapes.”
  • If you can style the geospatial elements then the user experience can be customised to a much greater degree
  • KML is a newer alternative to XML
  • Most mapping services make use of some Javascript

It’s worth considering making use of the tools provided by OGR to translate and filter data.  And here are some mapping libraries to check out:

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