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ClearMaps: A Mapping Framework for Data Visualization

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Despite the recent explosion of web based cartography tools, making effective maps for data visualization remains a challenge. While tools like Google Maps are great for helping navigate the world they fail terribly at data presentation tasks. Many features like roads and cities only get in the way of telling compelling stories with data. In fact, even the distance between places can be a distraction – who cares how far away Alaska is when the goal is to make a simple comparison between US states?

To overcome some of the limitations with existing mapping tools, Sunlight Lab is releasing ClearMaps, an ActionScript framework for interactive cartographic visualization. In addition to giving designers and developers total control over presentation the project aims to address some of the common technical challenges faced when building interactive, data driven maps for the web. ClearMaps is designed as a lightweight, flexible set of tools for building complex data visualizations. It is a framework not a plug-and-play component (though it could be a starting point for those wishing to make reusable tools).

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