Best data mapping?
March 22, 2018 3:51 PM   Subscribe

Do you have any recommended software for plotting data onto a geographical map?

I want to map some data from excel into an actual map of the US. I want the data points to be doscrete, clickable things, and when you click on them they show whatever data I want in a sidebar. I did a google search and I see million packages.

Do you have any recommended software for this? I’d rather it wasn’t something subscription based. It doesn’t have to be freeware tho.

Thanks !
posted by ian1977 to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've used QGIS for much of this (mapping data from Excel onto a map of the US / world) but, as I was making graphics for TV and not for the internet, I don't know what the capabilities are as far as making the points clickable links.

QGIS is freeware and I used (free) vector and raster maps from Natural Earth 2. QGIS definitely has a learning curve but is quite powerful in terms of how you can present the data.
posted by matcha action at 4:02 PM on March 22, 2018

Best answer: It depends how much control you want over the final map. If you are just mapping individual addresses or latitude/longitude points I would highly recommend Google My Maps.

I use QGIS (also free, but with a much, much tougher learning curve) to make more complicated maps as part of my job, so I would explore it if you need to make a map that is more complex than what Google My Maps allows. This is a good set of beginner QGIS tutorials.

That said, I regularly help co-workers use Google My Maps to do exactly what it sounds like you want to do!

Do you want to share the interactive map with other folks over the internet? Or is it mostly for your own personal use? If you are planning to share the map with others, then I definitely would explore Google My Maps vs QGIS. I looooove QGIS but it's challenging for a beginner to use and creating a map in QGIS and then preparing it to share online adds in an extra layer of complexity.
posted by cimton at 4:11 PM on March 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Google's MyMaps is a free and easy way to do this online. I think once you have the map made from an Excel import, you can download your work as a kml and import into something beefier like Google Earth or ArcGIS/QGIS.

There is also an R package called ggmap that I have used once or twice, but you'd need to learn R to use it, which is not worth doing for this unless you need it for other reasons.
posted by rollick at 4:14 PM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Depending on how many people you want to make this available to, and what your coding skills are, you might want to either create a kml and share it with your friends, using a tool like this:

Or if you need more power, check out the google maps API.
posted by agentofselection at 4:15 PM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Queensland Globe consumes .gpx, .kml, .kmz, .csv (what I'm guessing you're using) and shapefile data. It's a Queensland Government product but free for anybody to use, and fun to play around with. It only contains Queensland Government Open Data datasets but for example here's a London-based web service being displayed.

If it looks like something that might be useful, I do recommend signing up for a free account so you can save your maps and places etc.

(Disclaimer: I work for the division responsible for developing this.)
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:33 PM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You don't say whether you want them available on the web, but having them being 'clickable', I assume yes.

If qgis is too strong of a learning curve for you; I'd recommend carto or mapbox. Geomancer might also suit your needs.
posted by fizzix at 4:52 PM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: GIS packages are probably most versatile, but something simple like this would be pretty easy in Tableau. Tableau Public is their free version.
posted by noneuclidean at 6:09 PM on March 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

I posted a similar question recently, hopefully some of those answers will help too.
posted by kev23f at 11:45 AM on March 27, 2018

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