Behind the story, part three: creating a map with Fusion

In the first post I explained the purpose of this three-part tutorial. I was working on a couple of things for the Hackney Post, and I did this interactive map of entertainment venues in Hackney. I wanted to get the addresses, verify they were in Hackney, and then turn them into a map. You could of course, do this all by hand, or you could semi-automate the process by using scrapers and different tools.

The tutorial covers the following:

Part one: scraping with Outwit Hub
Part two: cleaning and verifying data
Part three: creating a map with Google Fusion

Using Google Fusion

Go to your Google Drive (if you don’t have one, you can get one very easily if you use Gmail – just go to drive.google.com and it should explain everything there). Click on create, and then click on Fusion Table. If you don’t have that option, just click “connect more apps” and you should be able to find it easily.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 09.46.52

When prompted, choose the file you saved in the last tutorial (if it’s a CSV file, ensure that “comma” is checked for separator character) and click next. It should display a preview of the information you have in the table, so click next again, and then finish – unless you want to change some of these values, which may be useful later but we don’t need to tinker with them now. It should look a little something like this, with an extra map tab to the right:

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 09.52.46

The highlighted cells – the “Name” values – are what Google is suggesting it should use to find the location, if you want to make a map. Of course, this is wrong, so we can change that by clicking on the arrow next to the Postcode column, then Change.. and then change the type from Text into Location. All of the Postcode column should now be highlighted, and some of the Name values will be highlighted too. Change the Name column type from Location to Text, and then Google Fusion should start geocoding.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 09.57.01

This is basically the process through which Google is figuring out what the location values mean – it’s thinking about how to process the information in the postcode column, because location values can be in many different forms. When that’s done, you want to click on the Map tab, and Google should have figured out that all of the pins are in Hackney, London.

Rename your map “Art galleries in Hackney”, so we don’t forget to do it later. Then click “Change feature styles…” – this is where you can change the icon if you want to. You can use this to specify gradients depending on values, or different icons for different values. In the original map I made, you’ll see that theatres, art galleries, and museums are all different colours. Before I imported into Fusion, I added an extra column with values like large_green, large_blue and large_red into the column, one for each type – and then I specified the column in the feature styles option.

For now, we just want it to be a large green icon. So click that and then save. If you click on one of the green pins now, it should look come up with a little window, like this. We want to change that.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 10.03.33

Click on “Change info window…” and you can see exactly what just came up. If you click on Custom, you can customise it to say whatever you want. I’d like to bold the name and take out the postcode bit. Move {Name} into where Name: is, and get rid of the <b> tags and Postcode: text. It should look like this:

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 10.06.42

Now, when you click on a pin, it should have the name in bold, and the postcode written underneath it. And we’re done. Zoom in so you can see all of the pins as closely as possible (this is how people will see it when they initially click on it, so this is important!) Now, click the arrow next to the map tab, and Publish. You’ll need to change permissions to “anyone with a link” to be able to embed it and send links to people. Check that the link works, and you’re done!

Making more elaborate maps

In the original piece I did for the Hackney Post, I had the entire address, phone numbers where possible, and hyperlinks to the venue website, all contained in the info window on the map. This information I had retained from the various scrapes I did of the Independent Directory and other places, and I also scraped the first ten results for each venue from Google, using Outwit Hub. This tutorial made a really simple map that can be made quite quickly once you have the data, but there is so much more you can do with Google Fusion.

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