Digital maps are ubiquitous, supporting countless online activities. Most interactive mapping platforms support three user operations to move across space: zooming in, zooming out, and panning. While using interactive maps, it is common for users to land in an unfamiliar area at high zoom levels. To understand the location of the area, users zoom out, identify known objects, such as large cities and other landmarks, and zoom back into the target area, an operation known as confirmation of relative position. This operation is cognitively complex, time-consuming, and prone to cause disorientation. This article outlines a generic framework to support map navigation by placing contextual information around the map, bridging the on- and off-screen spaces.
The proposed framework allows the dynamic generation of spatial cues in a context frame in the map that show objects located outside of the map, reducing the need for relative positioning. The approach is based on an algorithm that ranks the prominence of nearby objects, and is illustrated on a case study about a small Italian town. This framework can also support cognitive mapping, showing spatial relations between geographical objects in a novel way. The source code and a demo of the framework are available online. Continue to read the short paper [PDF].
Reference: A. Ballatore (2019) A Context Frame for Interactive Maps, AGILE Conference on Geographical Information Science, Short papers