Community Wishlist Survey 2019/Multimedia and Commons/Easy, low-maintenance possibility to include color coded maps

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Random proposal◄ Multimedia and Commons  The survey has concluded. Here are the results!

Easy, low-maintenance possibility to include color coded maps

The original German version of this proposal can be found here: de:Wikipedia:Technische Wünsche/Wunschparkplatz#Einfache und wartungsarme Möglichkeit, eingefärbte Karten einzubinden

  • Problem: Many graphics included in Wikipedia articles are maps in which countries are color coded according to whatever criterion. Usually this is done by taking a blank map like File:BlankMap-World6.svg, coloring it and then uploading it as a new file. This has a couple of disadvantages:
    • Fiddling with SVGs is difficult for less tech-savvy users and scares them off
      • → Often the user who plans the map is not the one who actually creates it → Lots of communications overhead, not possible to "be bold" and do-it-yourself, lots of time wasted and poor efficiency
      • → probably a lot of maps not realised at all because too complex technology is in the way
    • Lots and lots of redundant information → if a much-used template file receives a change (think new borders, code errors etc.), this change would need to be implemented in hundreds and thousands of files. Of course no one does this → existing files are becoming more and more incorrect (e.g. there are many maps that still don't show South Sudan or other relatively recent changes)
    • The resulting maps have all sorts of designs, depending on which template file was used
    • If a user makes a bad choice of template file (e.g. unsuitable projection etc.), it is fairly complex (and takes a lot of effort) to fix that

Example: The following maps are based on the same geographical information but present different data. Each time the map of 12 MB is copied and modified:

  • Who would benefit: All users who want to include color coded maps. The ones who DO know how to make maps are currently wasting a lot of time, too.
  • Proposed solution: Defining the map data (borders etc.) should be separated from the map styling (colors etc.), so that the end user doesn't need to do any more than fill out a simple template: {{Map Europe|de=red|fr=blue|it=green}}. Commons should host the template maps as .map pages, which can then be modified conveniently (via the template, using the graph extension). One can also think of parameters like bordersasof=2010, projection=Robinson, micronations=circles etc.
  • More comments:
  • Phabricator tickets:


  • This does sound as it it would save a lot of time. I'd like superclasses, too, like [all other countries not specified]=grey or [all other countries in Africa]=blue. I recently also had a problem with a map of a set of features which are small, but straddle the border between two large countries; I can imagine that being a problem here (for instance, suppose you wanted to show bilingualism rates along part of a border). It should be possible to select the coloured polygons included in the map by geographical area, not just by political subdivision. HLHJ (talk) 01:10, 31 October 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I love this idea. I recently made a couple of maps for the distribution of species and probably did it the hard way. I don't know enough about how SVG works to know if it would work for maps that show range of species (including migration and a fuzzy zone for rare occurrence areas) but I would welcome anything that would standardize the maps.PopularOutcast (talk) 00:33, 1 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • All the timezone maps in wikipedia need to be replaced with something like this for ease of maintenance. C933103 (talk) 18:11, 1 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • An alternative to SVGs would be to use the graph extension, as done with the graph at the top of Epidemiology of obesity. Gareth (talk) 00:57, 2 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Sounds like this would depend on the related proposal Community Wishlist Survey 2019/Multimedia and Commons#Option to embed SVGs as SVGs. A slightly different approach (if that proposal doesn't happen), is that you could take a tool like the U.S. Map Infographic Tool and make it more generalized, i.e., allowing the user to choose from a broad range of template maps. That tool exports the result as a new SVG, however, rather than simple CSS to apply to an embedded SVG template. Kaldari (talk) 01:00, 3 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • This is a great idea! I would suggest being able to assign colors to certain geographical areas as well, making it easier for scenarios with fewer colors. I really hope this gets on the radar for the team, since personally I am tired of inconsistent and somewhat clunky maps that can be found on many pages. MSG17 (talk) 20:18, 5 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Hi, @Christallkeks: This is a really handy idea, and I'd love to see this go up in the wikis. Unfortunately, the feature is first blocked on the ability of the wikis to display SVG images as SVGs (rather than pngs), which is currently not available. Changing the way the wikis work to serve raw SVGs to the user is a huge task by itself that is outside the scope of what we can do as part of a wishlist item. This makes this proposal, unfortunately, fall in the same boat; the feature is too big for us to work on as part of the Wishlist. Thank you for your participation, MSchottlender-WMF (talk) 18:01, 15 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@MSchottlender-WMF: As I mentioned above, the graph extension offers an alternative to SVG, so to decline this proposal on the basis that an SVG implementation is unsuitable seems misguided. I've tweaked the proposal to suggest the graph extension should be used for the proposed solution instead of SVGs and believe it should be moved back to the active listings. Gareth (talk) 16:08, 16 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Gareth: When we reviewed this in the wish triage, the team was very concerned about the scope of the wish and whether it will be feasible. However, if the intent is to try and come up with a way to make the Graph extension easier to use (rather than trusting people to understand json formats) we can probably look into that part. The voting has started already, but if the scope is clear to everyone that we will look into providing an easier way to do this with graphs (rather than SVGs) then I think you're right to say that the reason of pulling it out was incorrect. I am pulling this back into the wishlist. MSchottlender-WMF (talk) 20:53, 16 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for putting it back! Gareth (talk) 10:00, 20 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Christallkeks: So it turns out that the Graph extension already implemented this. I made a template on en:wiki (here) and on the MediaWiki site (here). Unintentionally, this template are pretty similar to one that was already on de:wiki (see here). So, the good news is that the capability is already there. The bad news is that there is still a lot to be desired, like better map data, being able to center the map in other places, being able expand the map like a picture or a Kartographer dynamic map to look at it closer, and historical borders. I'll see if there is anything to be done about that. MSG17 (talk) 18:43, 20 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]