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Simple Mapping Tools

About Fusion Tables

Google Fusion Tables is a cloud-based application that can be used to create a variety of visualizations. It is a free and only requires a Google Account to use. It is still in experimental stage, but is relatively bug-free.

      Pro: Easy to use, powerful geocoding engine, mixes well with other google spreadsheets, includes lots of other       visualizations beyond mapping.

      Con: Making maps can be confusing, more difficult to make beautiful maps, need non-Haverapps Google account.

Getting Started

Accessing Fusion Tables

To use Google Fusion Tables, you'll need a non-HaverApps Google Account. Your regular account does not work with Fusion Tables. If you don't already have one, you can create an account here.

Fusion Tables is accessed through Google Drive. There's a link to Drive on most Google pages, including your Gmail inbox and Google Search, or you can just click here.

Before using Fusion Tables, you may need to connect to the app. From Google Drive, click the CREATE button on the left side of the page and select Connect more apps. In the pop-up window, search "Fusion Tables" and click Connect. Now, if you go back to the Create menu, you should see Fusion Tables as an option. Click on it. You are now ready to begin the tutorials below, or you can spend some time familiarizing yourself with the interface. 



To start, it may be best to follow this tutorial provided by Google Fusion Tables to make a map of their insect data. (You can choose to skip the Info window part for now, if you like)

Now that you've familiarized yourself with Fusion Tables, we're going to try making a more advanced map.

1. Download the spreadsheet of Cope Evans letters here.

This table was exported from Triptych, and describes a collection of digitized letters held by the Cope and Evans families over many decades mostly during the 19th century. They were catalogued to describe their origin, destination, and any places described, as well as when they were sent, from whom, and to whom.

2. Go to Google Drive and select Google Tables. When prompted, import Cope-Evans data. After selecting the file to import, no options need to be changed. 


3. Unlike Google's data, this data needs to be fixed a bit.  By holding your cursor over the column name for Topical.Subject, you can see a dropdown appear. Select Change. In the pop-up window, make sure that the Type is Text and not Location. 


4. Change the data type of the Geographic.Subjects column to Location

5. Now, click the Red Plus Sign near the top of the screen and select Add Map. You'll have to wait a little while for Google to geocode the locations. 

After the geocoding finishes, you should have a map something like this:

6. We're now going to make the color of the dots reflect the year in which the letters were written. On the left side the screen, select Change Feature Styles. Divide the Decade column into 4 buckets, as shown below:


Your map should look something like this:

Feel free to play around with some more of the options to adapt the map to your liking. 

Moving Forward

Now that you've got a grasp on how to import data and create maps in Fusion Tables, here are some more resources for making more advanced maps and charts: 

  • Here is a great tutorial by Jack Dougherty of Trinity college on how to make thematic maps.
  • Google Tables is a great way to find interesting data. Just type a topic into the search box (i.e. "GDP by country") and you should be able to find lots of options. Be warned, most of the data obtained this way will need to be cleaned up before visualization. Think about the visualization you want to create and then exactly what types of data you need to make it. 
  • Here you can find tutorials and documentation on Fusion Tables from Google.
  • This is a very helpful tutorial that covers mergin data, changing the styling of your map, and embedding a Fusion Tables map.


What is .csv?

.csv stands for Comma Separated Values. It is a common file type for many types of data. It is an easy way of a saving a table or spreadsheet. Each value is separated by a symbol, most often a comma or semi-colon. Here is an example of a few lines of csv data:

State, Year, Number

WA, 1999, 50

PA, 1999, 73

NY, 2000, 96

Check out sample data for these tutorials

Map Types

There are many different types of maps. It is important to choose a map type before starting. All have advantages and disadvantages compared to the others. Think carefully about what information you want your map to convey before choosing.

The most common types are:

Chloropleths: regions are colored based on their value. For example, divorce rate by state. 

Pinpoint: simply show the locations of various data points.

Proportional Symbol: a combination of the first two types. Symbols represent locations and the size and/or color of the symbol is based on that locations value. 

For more information, see these links:

How to Use Maps in Data Visualization

Visualization Types