Being curious: A large map with lots of labels

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Atarimaster
Posts: 310
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:43 am

Being curious: A large map with lots of labels

Post by Atarimaster » Sun Aug 02, 2015 6:17 am

Hello,

this is actually not a "How to" topic, but rather a question just out of curiosity… but since it didn’t quite fit into the other boards on this forum as well, I put it here.
daan, feel free to move this topic to one of the other boards as you think fit!

Okay, here we go: A few days ago, I visited a party.
One of the other guests (let’s call him Mr A) told me about a personal project that one of his work colleagues (Mr B) has been very bus with for several months last year:

Mr. B wanted to have a very big wallpaper world map, about 5 meters (16 feet approx.) in width, but – and that was the crucial point – including labels for comparatively small cities. Mr A kept mentioning Paderborn as an example, a german city with a population of 143,659 and an area of 179.38 km2 (69.26 sq mi), but I don’t know if that example was made up by Mr A or Mr B himself.
Let’s just assume Mr B wanted labels for cities with roughly more than 100,000 inhabitants.

Mr B couldn’t find such a map so he started making his own map… and here is what he did:
He downloaded a LOT of tiles of appropriate zoom factor from Google Maps.
Then he put them all together to a single large image (AFAIU using some kind of batch processing), so he ended up with a digital version of the desired map.

Now, he had to find a printing service which will print out images of that size, but no one was able to print it to a single sheet of paper, but then the found service provider who printed out some tiles again and put them together seamlessly.
(At least, that was the sequence of events as far as I understand it from Mr A’s story.)

Of course that was a hell of a work and he paid a few hundred bucks for it.
And I thought: "Oh boy, he went through a lot of problems and expenses, and then ends up with a (Web-) Mercator projection wall map…"

And then, I thought: "Couldn’t he have used Geocart for it?"
After all, the FAQ says: "If you have the RAM, the patience, and a 64-bit operating system, then yes, you can create a map that large" (in regard of a map that is even much larger than the one that Mr B wanted).

So firstly, he would’ve needed a labels database file with more than 4000 cities (according to Wikipedia, that’s the number of cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants) but I guess you can find a database of that kind somewhere on the web (especially since he was willing to pay for it) and probably you can find a way to transform it to the format that Geocart needs (i.e. the kind of text files provided in Geocart’s Databases/Labels directory):

For example, if it’s an SQL database, he could’ve written a script to export it to a plain text file. If it’s already some kind of plain text file, probably a text editor offering search/replace with regular expressions would’ve been sufficient to transform the data.

Of course, then he probably would’ve spent an enormous amount of time in fine-tuning label positioning, font style and font size properties etc.
But hey, he spent months on the project anyway… and in the end, he would’ve had a map that is really unique and more importantly not using the Mercator projection…

Well, now it’s too late to recommend Geocart. The world map is finished and decorates Mr B’s wall.
Nonetheless, I’m curious: Am I right in my assumption that he could have done it in Geocart, the way that I described?

Kind regards,
Tobias

daan
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Re: Being curious: A large map with lots of labels

Post by daan » Sun Aug 02, 2015 5:37 pm

Hello Tobias.

You are right. Geocart could have done this for him. The place names would have to come from a data source that Geocart does not ship with, but I have to think the extraction and conversion would have been minor compared to all the work your acquaintance put into his project! Geocart is certainly capable of rendering at that size. The resolution it could put out at that size would be about 14 pixels/mm = 355 dpi.

Regards,
— daan

Atarimaster
Posts: 310
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:43 am

Re: Being curious: A large map with lots of labels

Post by Atarimaster » Mon Aug 03, 2015 2:19 am

Thank you, daan!
Well, too bad I didn’t hear about that project earlier…

Atarimaster
Posts: 310
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:43 am

Re: Being curious: A large map with lots of labels

Post by Atarimaster » Thu Dec 08, 2016 7:29 am

Atarimaster wrote:A few days ago, I visited a party.
One of the other guests (let’s call him Mr A) told me about a personal project that one of his work colleagues (Mr B) has been very bus with for several months last year:
(…)
Well, Mr A never told me the real name of Mr B, but I’m fairly certain it was this guy here:
https://www.dominik-schwarz.net/potpourri/worldmap/

Although is map is »only« 3 meters in width. So either Mr A exaggerated or I misremembered this.
Anyway, interesting story to read.

Kind regards,
Tobias

daan
Site Admin
Posts: 721
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2009 12:17 am
Location: Seattle

Re: Being curious: A large map with lots of labels

Post by daan » Sat Dec 10, 2016 2:13 pm

Wow. That is quite a work of love. Too bad about the Mercator projection. :-\

Thanks for sharing this. :-)

— daan

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