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Show HN: Mapipedia
61 points by mapipedia on Mar 13, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 38 comments
A web platform I've written to make it easy for people to share goespatial time series data and display it on animated heatmaps. There's also a social media component that allows you to write comments, follow, share and like data sets that you want to engage with. You can also download the CSV data and embed animations into your own websites. People uploading datasets can also choose to make money by accepting donations.

Please check out the home page for more details: https://mapipedia.com

Here are some samples of things created with the platform (press the play button to start the animations!)

1. USA Formation (states and flags): https://mapipedia.com/s/u/drdave/united_states_of_america_fo...

2. Average Life Expectancy: http://mapipedia.com/s/u/drdave/average_life_expectancy_by_c...

3. Growth of The Salvation Army: https://mapipedia.com/s/u/drdave/growth_of_the_salvation_arm...

4. Aids Related Deaths: https://mapipedia.com/s/u/drdave/aids_related_deaths_worldwi...

5. Prevalence of overweight children under 5: https://mapipedia.com/s/u/drdave/prevalence_of_overweight_ch...

6. Population Growth: https://mapipedia.com/s/u/drdave/global_population_growth_si...

Thanks for taking the time to check it out. This is the first time I've actually told anyone about this platform. I've been very close to it for a long time so it will be good to get feedback from others. All feedback is appreciated!

Cheers David

Hi there,

is it possible to have different shapes for different timesteps? The borders of the states of today were very different 120 years ago. Some were radically diffrent (Germany, Russia), some didn't even exist (Slovakia, Croatia, Sub Sahara-African Nations), some don't exist anymore today (Austro-Hungarian Empire).

Hi, thanks for your question. It kind of is. I would like to get to the point where I could change the maps over time to accurately represent things. However, there is some limited capacity to do it now through the use of region groups. So you can't change the regions themselves, but you can group them together. For example, you could model USSR as Russia and some of the Eastern European countries (I haven't created a youtube video on how to do that yet, but it's pretty easy - there is an example in the USA formation animation where Virginia gets split into West Virginia and Virginia around 1863). Region groups were also created to represent data on larger scales. For example if you want to represent a sales region for Western Europe you could group those countries together in a region group. Then your CSV data would only need to have one row for 'Western Europe' that would then shade all the regions in that group.

Thanks for the fast reply, the grouping option sounds like a good solution as a first step -- there might be instances where this is not applicable -- especially if you'r going further back in time [e.g. the principalities of the Holy Roman Empire were radically different to the german Bundesländer today].

Very cool project btw...

Yeah, I know what you mean. I would love to be able to show the actual boundaries changing over time. I've thought of a way to do that but don't have the data, but I think it wouldn't be too hard to do. Another idea I was thinking about was for the CSV data itself to help define the boundary. For example, if you wanted to track the amount of land that ISIS had over time, your CSV data could define which towns (or lat/lon) belonged to which group and then page could 'join the dots' to create the boundaries. Then the boundaries could be created arbitrarily. There would be some other complications that would need to be solved, but that's one of the ideas I've been thinking about.

The average life expectancy page is excellent. I'm not a design person, so I have nothing useful to say about that aspect of the page, but the information it presents is mind boggling. I really want to know what happened to Algeria in 1849.

Thanks! I've noticed that there are a lot of data sets out there on the web, but there are not many that explain why the data behaves the way it does. Adding events to data was a big part of the reason I created the site.

Stating the obvious but a redesign wouldn't hurt, also copy like "Make $$$ by Accepting Donations!" doesn't help.

Otherwise the visualization itself is sound, having multiple views linked is neat. But I personally would rather use an open-source JS library and host it on my own websites.

Thanks for the feedback. You're right there are some good open source libraries out there. Part of the reason I created this site is so that someone with no programming experience can just paste excel data into the page to create animations (I've setup a YouTube channel with some tutorials on there). I think you make a good point about the $$$ comment. I'll have to see if I can come up with something better. Cheers

I like it a lot!

Though, I would like to share some feedback:

- Many visulization would benefit from adding an optional logarithmic scale. Or at least "per capita".

- While I love the interactivity, and other features (downloading CSV data, etc), I think the design (colors, edges, etc) would benefit from some polish.

Yes, there is already a log scale in there but it's a bit hidden. You can click the 'Options' in the 'How' section and change the scale. I've also thought about a per capita option (which would be pretty straight forward for sets where I have the population) so that if say someone puts the total amount of carbon emission in there by country it would be an option to convert that per capita. If only I had more time in the day :)

There seems to be a lot of feedback on updating the design. Perhaps I should move that up the priority list!

I would agree with that feedback. The actual visualization is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while, and it makes the UI's slightly less-than-cool design really stand out.

Thanks for that confirmation.

Hello David,

Very interesting project. If you improve the design to something more modern it will attract many people. But still, I found it very interesting and learned some new things by checking the average life expectancy :)

Thanks. Yeah, I'm the first to admit I'm not a front end designer. I've started talking to someone about updating the design but nothing is locked in yet so if you can recommend anyone let me know! While we're on the topic, I could do with someone who's good at social media marketing. Cheers

On Safari, for the home page, I just see a blank page, and a TypeError in the console.

The other pages work, but it looks like I'm getting some sort of blown-up mobile view, even on my desktop. The text and buttons are 2 or 3 inches tall.

It's a cool concept, and launching is always the hard part, so I know it's only going to get better from here on out.

UPDATE: In Firefox, the home page is also blank. I don't see a TypeError but I'm having trouble figuring out the JS console. The other pages are normal-sized, not mobile views.

Ok, thanks for that. I just noticed that it stopped working for me as well. The server was complaining about having too many open files. I've just restarted it so hopefully it will work for you this time! I also fixed a possible cause for the TypeError. Cheers

Great, David.

Free idea: this is a great resource. People will want access to this. Increase its "linkedness". Internal links (related maps, recommended maps, etc) make it easy for people to navigate in site (Amazon is great at this). External inbound links (SEO, embed-capability for journalists, etc) help people get on site.

Thanks for the feedback. There is already the ability to embed maps into other pages. However if you didn't find it that probably says something about the design of the site. There are some internal links (each page will show the other pages by the same author that are public) but they could certainly be done better. It's a bit hard to do at this stage because there's not many pages in there. Thanks again for the feedback!

This is really neat! I do work for a non-profit that does advocacy for child maltreatment legislation, this could prove useful. Not just for us but for any group that needs to visually present timeseries data, especially given that it seems difficult for smaller non-profits to attract tech talent.

Thanks! I'm hoping that non-profits put their data on the site and share the link (or embed the animation into their own sites) so that they can increase awareness on important issues. There's also a paid subscription option for people who want to keep their data private which I'm hoping that companies will use if they want to keep track of sales or other sensitive data. Everyone can have a small number of private pages for free. There's a products page that goes over some of the options.

Does anyone have any comments about performance relating to things like load times, animation speed and response to user actions? Also, feel free to contact me directly at dnphilpot (at) gmail.com if you have any other questions, comments or ideas. Cheers David

Amazing concept. I am a very visual learner and I find this fascinating.

In school I often got disengaged by history because of the way it was taught, unfortunately. Projects like this can improve learning a lot!

The Average Life Expectancy one is 100% worth spending some minutes, even hours reading.

Keep the awesome work David.

Thanks! I'm the same. Having something represented the right way visually can make a huge difference. The education sector is definitely one of my targets so it's great to get that feedback. I'm keen for people to create pages, upload data and to help to add more context to history. Hopefully the Mapipedia platform makes that easy for others to do.

Good concept!

Very good that you've decided to go live without waiting for a fancy design for your front-end. Early feedback is more valuable for this product.

Nice job.

Thanks! Yeah, I was keen to start getting some feedback sooner rather than later and I thought this was the perfect forum for it. I figured if it looked like no one was going to show any interest there might not be much point paying someone to tidy it up (although I suppose there's a bit of a chicken and egg situation there ... if it looked better more people might show an interest!). How did you find the performance in terms of load times and execution speed on your computer? Thanks again.


Perhaps you could also support real-time sensor data? Services as Luftdaten.info would love to have these visualizations.

Yeah, one of my future plans is to setup an API so real-time data could be entered into the site. I also want to make changes so that point data can be added in (i.e. lat/lon) so that it's easy to do real time tracking of things - e.g. whales, birds, ships, ... etc. The lat/lon changes would also allow things like earthquakes, fires, floods, world's tallest buildings over time, 7 wonders of the world ... etc to also be mapped.


Keep in mind that some stuff (such as 7 wonders of the world) and other somewhat stationary data is better added in OpenStreetMap - but for the other cases, you're tool could be a good solution. I'm looking forward to updates to it!

Thanks again for that feedback. Yeah, with stuff like the 7 wonders of the world I think you're right in that it's well covered in other ways. I guess I was thinking more along the lines of the ancient wonders of the world. I think events showing when they existed, and how long for, would add an extra dimension to people's understanding. For example, I don't know if they all existed at the same time or not (which of course a simple Google search would reveal), or how many years ago the first wonder was constructed, or how many years apart they were. I'll try it out at some point and see what people's reaction is to it.

Link #2 says "localhost" instead of "mapipedia.com". Perhaps you can still edit the post.

Thanks! I just updated it. Cheers

That's impressive, great job!


Is doesnt look good on mobile

I have put some effort into mobile, but I have to admit I've struggled to get it to work well. The larger screens and use of a mouse means it works much better on laptop/desktops. Can you give me any further details about the parts of the mobile display that didn't work very well? Can you give me more details about the mobile you were you using (I've not had a chance to do a lot of testing on mobile devices)? Cheers



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