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text missing from static online map images at NYT

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#1
David Medeiros

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A short while back, maybe last year sometime, I had a brief exchange on a blog somewhere relating to the development of dynamically placed type for journalism maps at places like NYT (in fact I think I was talking to one of the map designers for NYT about this). I don't recall the details but I know they were innovating an approach to placing text on static maps programmatically, as opposed to manually, despite the map being static. Seemed odd to me to code labels placement for a non dynamic map, but I'm an old school mapper. There was some time savings for them.

 

As I'm looking around at map graphics today for a new Cart in GIS lecture I've noticed that NYT maps in particular exhibit a strange detail when you try to view them separately from their web pages (by R clicking and going to View Image...), the background static maps opens up but the seemingly static labels disappear, making the stand alone map useless in many cases.

 

Compare the two screen shots form a NYT story done a few years back featuring an ISIS territory map.

 

NYT maps are usually carefully sized and rendered in their stories that calling up the map separately is not usually needed, although I tend to do this regardless. But across the web many online static maps are often too small for close reading and by opening the image alone you can often get a much better view of the maps details. Dynamically placed text in these cases seems to be a threat to that "feature". Not sure its a very important issue, but something I noticed and was curious how folks here perceive this.

 

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#2
GeographyNerd

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What is up with the label placement on the map? I would never put my name on that. Who cares if it saves time when the labels do not follow good cartographic conventions? The labels for cities are crossing water bodies, Lebanon is half in the ocean half on the land. They cross polygon boundaries all over. It would be one thing if it was really crowded or too many labels to move manually, but  I see no reason not to adjust their placement. I do not work much with web maps, but if it is static, why wouldn't it just be an image file? Why would text need to be separated from the map?



#3
David Medeiros

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Well that was my argument to the overall idea to begin with. But here I'm more interested in how the use of dynamic labels of a static map reduces the re-usability of the map a standalone graphic.


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#4
frax

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They could very well be placed manually, but they are using javascript and something like svg or canvas to place/display the labels. That makes it possible to toggle them, and they will always be crisp and can be sized to the viewport/windows/browser.


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#5
Hans van der Maarel

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They could very well be placed manually, but they are using javascript and something like svg or canvas to place/display the labels. That makes it possible to toggle them, and they will always be crisp and can be sized to the viewport/windows/browser.

 

I think that's the main reason ideed. Another one may be that this way it's easier to provide the labels in a different language, although I'm not sure the NYT is doing this, this way would be vastly easier than when the labels are inside the static image too.


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#6
David Medeiros

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They could very well be placed manually, but they are using javascript and something like svg or canvas to place/display the labels. That makes it possible to toggle them, and they will always be crisp and can be sized to the viewport/windows/browser.

 

I think dynamic sizing per display resolution may have been the main advantage to this IIRC, and certainly quick language changes as Hans suggests as well. But I wonder if there is a way to allow the user to view the image alone and carry the labels over, or if this necessarily means maps that can't be read or downloaded out of their articles or web pages? Unless you take a screen shot. Maybe I'm treading into un licensed use here though. For me it's a case of wanting to grab images like this for use in our workshops, as inspiration on design, or just to get a better look at the details.


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#7
frax

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It would also prevent hotlinking of an image file (map) - or at least make it (much) harder.


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