App Building for the Technically Challenged Cartographer

By Kevin Duffin

Geovis Project Assignment @RyersonGeo SA 8905 Fall 2018

Creating a custom web mapping application can seem like a daunting task for an individual without a whole lot of technical experience. These individuals, myself included, can feel as though they must first learn computer science before they are able to perform web mapping. However, there are a variety of web services which allow for the creation of powerful geovizualization application without the detailed knowledge of computer programming.

One such service is ESRI’s Web Appbuilder for ArcGIS.

Web Appbuilder is an application hosted on ArcGIS online which allows users to add functionality to custom web maps. An exciting feature of the Web Appbuilder is the ability to create maps not only in 2D, but also in 3D via the scene view in Web Appbuilder.

The scene view environment allows users to create a variety of 3D interactive mapping applications on a virtual globe. Navigation around the virtual world is incorporated, and various customization are possible via a variety of out of the box functionalities which can be easily incorporated to any application.

Pretty great right? Follow along and learn how to make a 3D web app!

Introduction to my data

The economies of many nations around the world, including Canada, rely very heavily on natural resource use. In recent times there has been a push by many countries to decouple their economies from natural resource use to both increase the sustainability of their economy, and to decrease their environmental impact.

Material footprint is a measure of domestic material use developed by Wiedmann, T. O., Schandl, H., Lenzen, M., Moran, D., Suh, S., West, J., and Kanemoto, K in 2015. The material footprint(MF) of a nation is the total amount global raw materials extraction that can directly attributed to the final demand of that nations economy.

When developing the metric, Weidmann et al determined the MF per capita of every nation in the world. The group also calculated the MF per capita for various material types, such as biomass materials, construction materials, fossil fuels, and metal ores. I joined Weidmann et al.’s MF data to a country shapefile using ArcMap and the resulting shapefile was exported and saved to my local computer. This is the data I used to create my geovisualization project.

The goal of my project was to create a web mapping application which allows the user to view the MF data on a virtual globe, and toggle between material types. By viewing which material types are important to various nations, the user can then make inferences about sustainability of those nations.

Getting Started: Publishing Layers to ArcGIS Online

In order to create the web application, I first needed to publish the spatial data to ArcGIS Online. To do this I first logged in to my ArcGIS online account. If you do not have an ArcGIS Online account, you can create a free personal account or sign up through your organization, such as university or business. Once signed in, navigate to the “My Content” tab and click the “Add Item” button. For my project I added the MF data from my computer. If your data is saved on your local computer, ensure that it is in ZIP format. I added the MF layer six times, as I had six layers I wanted to display on my application. I named one layer the Material Footprint, four layers using the material groups, and one representing the select few countries which did not have data.

Creating the Map

Once the layers were uploaded, I navigated to the “Create” button and hit “map”. This opened a map viewer tab where I was able to create the basemap for my application on a 2D surface. I added the six layers to the map viewer and began making the basemap. The “change style” tab was used to classify and select a colour scheme for each layer. I then configured pop- ups to display the MF value of a nation when a country is selected. Once I was happy with all the layers, I then saved the layers and the map, and navigated back to “My Content”.

Creating the Web Scene

I next needed to display the layers I just created in a 3D environment. From the “Create Tab”, I selected “Create Scene”. A scene viewer page opened and the virtual 3D globe which I used to display my layers was generated.  Using the “Modify Scene” tab, I added my six layers that I formatted in the map view from my content.  As this scene will become the base of the mapping application, it is important that I configured all the desired setting in the scene view, as these settings will not be able to be changed in the application itself. For example, I altered the order of the layers in my legend, chose a basemap, specified the suns position in the sky, and optimized the performance of the scene in scene settings by ensuring the 3D graphics slide bar was set to Performance rather than quality.  I then saved the scene and navigated back to “My Content”.

Creating the Web App

In the “Create” tab, I then created an App using the Web Appbuilder. In the following “Create a web app” pop up, I specified 3D and gave the app a title, a tag, and a brief summary.

I then needed to specify to Scene which I wanted to use as the baselayer for my app. I navigated to the Scene I just created through the “Choose web scene” button in the scene setting window. This then projected my 3D MF layers onto the virtual globe into the map. I then navigated to the theme window  and chose a graphic theme for my application.

Adding Functionality

Functionality is added to Web Appbuilder applications through widgets. Widgets are tools that can be added to the application. These tools perform a variety of functions. Also, the number of widgets you can incorporate into an app is based on the theme you have selected, so choose wisely. In my application I chose four main widgets, Legend, About, Layer List and 3D Extrusion. The legend widget simply adds a legend to the app which updates depending on the layer being displayed. I configured the About widget to display text introducing the application. The layer List is the widget which enables the toggling between MF layers. Fnally, the 3D widget allows for several different 3D functionalities. I selected the “Area Extrusion” visualization type to extrude the countries based on their Material Footprint per Capita Values. Along with the 3D extrusion, a display bar is added the app which displays the MF values of each nation. By clicking on a nation name in the display bar, the view automatically zooms to that country. Neat!

Finishing Touches

After all the functionality was added to the application, I added a few finishing touches. A proper summary and description were added to the Web App page, and a simple splash widget was added to introduce the application.

Try it out here!

Try the application out here, and thanks for following along!

https://ryerson.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer3d/index.html?id=b72c5f9cb9194a1abbff695a7b5b275f

 

Literacy Percentages and Global Prevalence of HIV Rates

by Anwar Abu Ghosh

Geovis Project Assignment @ryersonGeo,

SA8905,  Fall 2018

 

For my geo-visualization project, I have decided to use  ArcGIS Online which is a web-based interactive program to visualize the data. The other dataset was extracted from the world health organization was in the format of a comma delimited values (CSV) file which contains the rates and ranks of some countries in the worlds suffering from HIV. Another data set that was used on this project was literacy rates across different countries in the world, which was downloaded as a CSV from United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) website.

ArcGIS Online Definition

ArcGIS Online is a cloud-based application that is used to visualize and map data in a dynamic and interactive method. GIS stands for Geographic Information System, and the method this application works is by adding different layers to create different maps and visualize data. It can be used for 2D and 3D mapping, and in this project, I will be using the proportional mapping. It is a great collaborative web-based application with a secure infrastructure to store data, view data, add layers, manipulate data and share maps with others. This web-based application has base maps and data layers integrated into it, therefore many preinstallations may not be required.  I will be using the 30-day free trial of ArcGIS Online with limited features and storage.

ArcGIS Desktop

Due to the limited features in the ArcGIS Online free trial, many properties are disabled such as the join feature and so using a different software to join two datasets was required. To be able to create a choropleth map in ArcGIS Online, the data must be provided in a shapefile (SHP) extension format. Therefore, the need to use ArcMap to join a country shapefile to the literacy rates CSV was needed. The layer was first added by right clicking ‘Layers’ in the table of content and browsing to the country shapefile location that was originally downloaded from thematicmapping.org. Then right-click the added layer and selecting ‘Joins and Relates’ then ‘joins’. For the ‘1. Choose the field in this layer that the join will be based on field select the country column in the shapefile. As for the ‘2. Choose the table to join this layer or load the table from disk’ select the literacy CSV file.  Meanwhile for the ‘3. Choose the field in the table to base the join on’ which should be referring to the country name column in the literacy data. Allow the join to retain all records and then press okay. The altered country shapefile will have the literacy columns appended to the end of the shapefile. Now that the shapefile is generated some data cleanup such as deleted unnecessary columns may be done before exporting the shapefile. Shapefile exporting is the was ArcGIS saves the new shapefile and this simple step can be done by right clicking the layer and selecting ‘Data’ then ‘Export Data’ to save the updated shapefile to the desired location. Note to have the shapefile ready for ArcGIS online; the shapefile should be saved in its own folder as multiple files will automatically be generated when creating the file and then the folder should be zipped.

ArcGIS Online Application

Adding the first layer

The first layer in this map will be the literacy data. Start by successfully logging in to ArcGIS Online and selecting the map option in the top bar. Then browse to the map option, click the ‘Add’ option and select the ‘Add Layer from File’. Then browse to the zipped file that was created from the previous step in ArcMap. To create the choropleth map, the percentage column is to be selected as ‘Shows an attribute to show’ and then counts and amounts (Color). Selecting blue from the symbols settings then ‘fill’, this step is done to represent the literacy data where the light shade indicates a low literacy rate and a dark blue indicates a high literacy rate in the country.

Adding Second Layer

Selecting from the toolbar ‘Add layer by file’ from the add setting.  Browse to the csv file stored on the computer. Many options will appear on the way the file is to be imported. Using the located feature by selecting ‘by World’ from the drill down option. Match the country column in the HIV data to the country from the preexisting data in ArcGIS Online. The data will then be imported to the application in point form. Create a proportion map by using the proper setting of selecting the proportion based on HIV rates. The color used in displaying the data points is red since the red ribbon is an awareness symbol of HIV/AIDS.

Since many colors and shades are being used in this interactive map a simple light grey canvas was used as a basemap to make the colors and symbols more visible to the reader. As for the legend, it can be found on the left-hand side of the application right under the toolbar. The legend consists of two components the proportionate layer for the HIV/AIDS data where the symbol refers to the percentage of HIV/AIDS rates. The other component refers to the literacy rates where the shade of blue refers to the rate of literacy rate in a country.

 

Feel free to take a look at the map through this link https://arcg.is/1uPu14

References

http://thematicmapping.org/downloads/world_borders.phphttps://data.unicef.org/topic/education/literacy/

http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.617?lang=en

Story Swipe Map – 2011 / 2015 Election Results

Geovis Course Assignment, SA8905, Fall 2015 (Rinner)
Author: Austin Pagotto
Link to Web app: http://arcg.is/1Yf8Yqn
(Note: project may have trouble loading using Chrome – try Internet Explorer)

Project Idea:

The idea of my project was to comprehensively map the past two Canadian federal election results. When looking for visualization methods to compare this data I came across the Swipe feature on the ArcGIS Online story maps. Along with all the interaction features of any ArcGIS online web map, this feature lets the user swipe left and right to reveal either different layers or in my case different maps. As you can see in the screenshot below the right side of the map is showing the provincial winners of the 2015 election while the left side of the map is showing the provincial winners of the 2011 election. The middle line in the middle can be swiped back and forth to show how the provincial winners differed in each election.

Pic1

Project Execution:

The biggest problem in executing my project was that the default ArcGIS online projection is web Mercator, which greatly distorts Canada. I was able to find documentation from Natural Resources Canada explaining how Lambert Conformal Conic basemaps can be uploaded to an ArcGIS online map and replace the default basemaps.

Another problem with my visualization of the project was that when zoomed to a national scale level, a lot of the individual polling divisions became impossible to see. This creates an issue because each polling division is designed to have a somewhat equal population count in them. So the small ones aren’t less important or less meaningful than the big ones. To solve this, when zoomed out, I changed the symbology to show the party that had won the most seats in each province, so it would show the provincial winner as seen in the previous screenshot. When zoomed in however the individual polling divisions become visible, showing the official name at increased zoom levels. The years of each election were added to the labels to help remind the user what map was on what side.
pic2

The methodology I used to create this project was to create two different online maps, one for each election year. Then I created the swipe web app which would allow both of these maps to be loaded and swipeable between the two. It was important here to make sure that all the settings for each map were the exact same (colors, transparency and attribute names).

The data that is shown on my maps were all downloaded from ArcGIS online to Arcmap Desktop and then zipped and reuploaded back to my project.  It was important to change my data’s projection to Lambert Conformal Conic before uploading it so that it wouldn’t have to be reprojected again using ArcGIS online.

This project demonstrated how web mapping applications can make visualizing and comparing data much easier than creating two standalone maps.

Data Sources: Projection/Basemap information from Natural Resources Canada
Election Data from ESRI Canada (downloaded from ArcGIS Online)

Link to Web app: http://arcg.is/1Yf8Yqn