Using a map visualization

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1. Overview

You use maps to display geographic information in the form of shape, path, and symbol elements. Then you connect these elements to data so that their appearance will change based on data values.

Related video: Introduction to Maps

2. Built-in maps

The GLOBAL project in Dundas BI includes a set of built-in map resources. You can access these maps from the Maps\Shared sub-folder in your current project.

The built-in maps are categorized into different folders such as Cities, Continents, Countries, and States and Provinces. If your data matches the shapes in these maps, Dundas BI will automatically connect the data to the relevant map categories. If you find what you are looking for in this set of maps, then you do not need to go searching for additional map resources.

Maps included with Dundas BI
Maps included with Dundas BI

On the map visualization, the different categories of the built-in maps are presented in a layer-like manner. You are initially presented with the Continent category, which changes to the Countries category as you zoom in, and from Countries to States/Provinces. This behavior is maintained if you use a multi-level hierarchy and set the Top Level to be different from the Level, which will connect different levels of the hierarchy to different map layers and display them with the relevant zoom level. Using your own map data in Dundas BI is optional, and it stops this automatic behavior. 

Note
The Cities category is not presented as one of the map layers. This means city symbols will either be displayed or not displayed on the map, regardless of the zoom level.

3. Map resources

3.1. ESRI shapefile

The ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) shapefile format is a popular binary file format for storing vector map data and is used by many of the public domain map resources that you can acquire through the internet.

A single ESRI shapefile is actually composed of three separate files: a main (.SHP) file containing geographic data, an index (.SHX) file containing record information, and a database file containing data associated with the geometry elements stored within the SHP file. For example, a map of the United States might be represented by the following files:

  • usa.shp – Main shapefile which contains definitions for one layer of geometry elements (either polygons, polylines, or points).
  • usa.shx – Index file containing information about how to read the shape data from the SHP file.
  • usa.dbf – DBF (dBASE) file which defines a database table of attribute values. Contains one record (or row) per geometry element.

3.2. Importing a shapefile

If you downloaded shapefile data in the form of a ZIP file, you'll need to extract the contents to an actual folder in Windows first.

Drag the set of three files from Windows Explorer and drop it over the Explore panel in Dundas BI.

Drag shapefile (three files) to the Explore panel
Drag shapefile (three files) to the Explore panel

The shapefile is imported into Dundas BI. You can find it under the Maps folder in the Explore panel.

The shapefile is added to the Maps folder
The shapefile is added to the Maps folder

3.3. Map elements

The Map visualization supports three types of map elements:

  1. Shapes – Show political boundaries of continents, countries, states, provinces, and regions.
  2. Paths – Display roads, streets, highways, or other linear features such as rivers.
  3. Symbols – Represent location points on a map such as a city or state capital and can be generated dynamically from data (for an example of displaying city symbols based on latitude and longitude coordinates in the data, see the article Displaying symbols on a map).

4. Displaying a map

Drag the shapefile from the Maps folder to the dashboard canvas.

Drag the map to the canvas
Drag the map to the canvas

Select the map control on the canvas, go to Properties, and then click the Shapes property. You will see the names of the shapes that were imported from the shapefile.

Map shape collection
Map shape collection

5. Connecting a map to data

Consider an Excel file that contains two columns of data:

  • a column of text values which can be matched against the names of map elements from the shapefile (for example, country names)
  • a column of numeric values which can be used as a measure (for example, sales figures for each country)

Excel data for connecting to a map
Excel data for connecting to a map

Drag this Excel file from Windows Explorer and drop it onto the Explore panel. This will create a data connector for the Excel file.

Go to the Explore panel and expand the Data Connectors folder. Further expand the auto-generated data connector to see the column structure of the Excel sheet.

5.1. Add data to the map

Drag the Sheet1 data connector item and drop it onto the map control on the canvas.

Drag Sheet1 to the map control
Drag Sheet1 to the map control

Dundas BI will automatically connect the available data to the most fitting elements in the map. You can then modify the automatically assigned connections in the Visualization tab of the Data Analysis Panel

5.2. Visualization tab

Open the Data Analysis Panel for the map, click Visualization, and click the More button, if available.

Map visualization options
Map visualization options

Map visualization options
Map visualization options

The Shape Name option specifies how the matching is done between shape elements and the data from the underlying metric set. In this case, the shape name is connected to the Country hierarchy from the Excel data.

The Shape Color option indicates the color of the shapes is connected to the Sales measure. You can customize the actual assignment of colors using shape color rules via the Properties panel.

Similar name and color options are available for path and symbol elements (see the article Displaying symbols on a map for an example).

5.3. Color rules

Select the map control, go to Properties, click Look, and then modify the default Auto Color Rule in order to change the colors of the shapes in the map. 

Auto color rule for shapes
Auto color rule for shapes

Expand the APPEARANCE section and adjust the From Color and To Color properties.

Changing the From and To colors
Changing the From and To colors

It is possible to add multiple shape color rules, but note that they will be applied in order from first to last. This means the last color rule takes precedence.

Separate color rules are also available for path and symbol elements.

5.4. Labels

Go to Properties, click Text, and click Shape Label Settings in order to change the shape label settings in the map.

The Shape Label Settings property
The Shape Label Settings property

Click the area under Visible to show the labels of all the shapes in the map.

Click the area under Show Label Only On Elements With Data to hide all the labels of shapes not connected to data.

Hide shape labels not connected to data
Hide shape labels not connected to data

Tip
You can apply the above two settings to an individual shape in the main map Properties tab by selecting Shapes, selecting the individual shape, and going into the Label settings.

5.5. Compatible names

In case the data you want to use has column values that cannot be matched against the names of map elements from the shapefile, Dundas BI will attempt to use alternate names. All of the maps built into Dundas BI have a list of alternate names, while uploaded maps will use unique columns from the shape file as sources of alternate names.

If the data does not match the names or the alternate names, you can manually set the compatible name. For example, you are using a map with a shape named United States of America, but your data uses an uncommon name like USofA.

Instead of changing your data or modifying the shapefile, you can manually set the Shape Compatible Name property for the shape element.

Edit properties for a shape and use the Shape Compatible Name property to give it an alternate name for connecting to data
Edit properties for a shape and use the Shape Compatible Name property to give it an alternate name for connecting to data

Note
In the case of multiple rows matching a shape because of alternate names, you can use the Shape Compatible Name property to indicate which name to use. This property takes precedence over the other names.

Path and symbol elements also have compatible name properties.

5.6. Additional data for context

Additional context is necessary when there are multiple locations on the map with the same name. If you have another column, hierarchy, or hierarchy level that can help distinguish between these locations, you can connect to it to provide the additional context.

For example, if your data includes the state of Montana, USA, but the map also shows the province of Montana, Bulgaria, the color rule will be applied to both map shapes. You can distinguish between the two shapes using additional context by adding another column (Country) to the CONTEXT field. Refer to the sample below.

Sample data
Sample data

Drag Sales measure and State/Province dimension to the map visualization.

Drag measure and dimension
Drag measure and dimension

The color rule is applied to the Montana (USA) map shape.

Montana (USA)
Montana (USA)

However, the color rule is also applied to the Montana (Bulgaria) shape.

Montana (Bulgaria)
Montana (Bulgaria)

In order to resolve this issue, the Country column should be connected to the CONTEXT field. Open the Data Analysis Panel for the map and click Visualization.

Drag the Country column to the CONTEXT field.

Connect Country to CONTEXT
Connect Country to CONTEXT

The color rule is no longer applied to the Montana (Bulgaria) map shape.

Note
If the additional context is another level of the hierarchy being used in the Name field, you can apply it by changing the Top Level of the hierarchy instead of connecting it to the CONTEXT field. You can set the Top Level of the hierarchy in the Data Analysis Panel by editing the hierarchy, or simply drag the level from the explore panel.

6. Using a map

Once your design is complete, go to the toolbar and click View.

In View mode, you can:

  • Zoom in or zoom out on the map by using the mouse wheel.
  • Pan the map by clicking and dragging it in any direction.
  • Hover over a shape on the map to view its corresponding tooltip (which shows the connected data values).

Note that zoom or pan changes that you make in View mode will persist even when you switch back to Edit mode.

Using a map in View mode
Using a map in View mode

7. Properties

This section describes other map properties that you may find useful.

7.1. Show Only Requested Maps

The Show Only Requested Maps property forces the map visualization to display only map resources that you've added via dragging from Explore. The built-in world map and its various layers will no longer be loaded or searched for automatically.

Show Only Requested Maps property
Show Only Requested Maps property

7.2. Default Viewport Center

By default, Automatic Zooming is enabled, which means the viewport will automatically zoom and center over map resources displaying data. You can disable this behavior by using the Disable Automatic Zooming option in the Properties panel.

The Default Viewport Center property enables you to indicate the default position and zoom level of the viewport when Automatic Zooming is disabled. To activate this option click the plus under the Default Viewport Center option in the Properties panel.

Indicate the X Value, Y Value, and Zoom Level, and then switch to View mode.

Default Viewport Center property
Default Viewport Center property

7.3. Map Projection

The map visualization in Dundas BI supports two types of map projection:

  1. Equirectangular (default) – This projection is neither equal area nor conformal and is mainly used for thematic mapping.
  2. Mercator – A conformal map projection that covers the earth from −180° to 180° longitude and 84° north to 84° south latitude.

You can change the map projection in the Layout properties.

Change to the Mercator map projection
Change to the Mercator map projection

8. Notes

  • If you have a shapefile that does not import correctly into Dundas BI, check the coordinate reference system (CRS) of the shapefile using a third-party application such as QGIS. This tool lets you check the CRS of a shapefile and also save/export it as a new shapefile with a different CRS (for example, WGS-84). You can use QGIS to prepare a shapefile with the appropriate CRS before adding it to Dundas BI.

9. See also

Dundas Data Visualization, Inc.
500-250 Ferrand Drive
Toronto, ON, Canada
M3C 3G8

North America: 1.800.463.1492
International: 1.416.467.5100

Dundas Support Hours: 7am-6pm, ET, Mon-Fri