You are previewing Visualize This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics.

Visualize This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics

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Specific Locations

A list of locations is the easiest type of spatial data you’ll come across. You have the latitude and longitude for a bunch places, and you want to map them. Maybe you want to show where events, such as crime, occurred, or you want to find areas where points are clustered. This is straightforward to do, and there are a lot of ways to do it.

On the web, the most common way to map points is via Google or Microsoft Maps. Using their mapping APIs, you can have an interactive map that you can zoom and pan in no time with just a few lines of JavaScript. Tons of tutorials and excellent documentation are online on how to make use of these APIs, so I’ll leave that to you.


Google and Microsoft provide super straightforward tutorials that start with their mapping APIs, so be sure to check those out if you’re interested in taking advantage of some basic mapping functionality.

However, there is a downside. You can only customize the maps so much, and in the end you’ll almost always end up with something that still looks like a Google or Microsoft map. I’m not saying they’re ugly, but when you’re developing an application or designing a graphic that fits into a publication, it’s often more fitting to have a map that matches your design scheme. There are sometimes ways to get around these barriers, but it’s not worth the effort if you can just do the same thing but better, with a different tool.

Find Latitude and Longitude

Before you do any mapping, consider the available ...

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