Animating Performances on Tour with CartoDB

I have other visualization ideas to try, but first I wanted to look at one of the same ABC performance datasets from before in CartoDB. Even though the underlying data is the same, each platform has its own quirks that require reformatting the database through trial and error. Upload, stare, delete, edit, upload…

Whereas Palladio is not made for easy sharing, all datasets uploaded to CartoDB are public by default. Sharing work that is still in progress might be nervewracking for a historian. But this open data means it is very easy to share animated maps that are hosted directly on CartoDB’s site, for example by embedded them directly into other webpages. (Note: to see any of the maps embedded here larger/cleaner on CartoDB’s site, you need to click the paper airplane icon in the top right corner, followed by “link to this map.”)

Like Palladio, CartoDB is also an evolving system. Last time I explored, they made it very easy to customize the CSS file, but there were a limited number of “out of the box” options. Since then, more have been added. One of the more straightforward settings is to animate chronologically a heat map of number of performance days per location (note: not performances), which can be set cumulatively as well, so that it leaves a trail across the map.

Another possibility with CartoDB is to set up a poster-style map that plots cities based on density of a particular dataset column. With this color scale, it is very easy to see at quick glance the proportion of performance dates per location across the continent.


These maps can also be modified by other parameters as well. For example, in the database, I categorize the shows into three buckets: “matinee,” “evening,” and “[evening].” The last refers to a show that is likely evening but only listed in the budget documents as under a sub-type, ie: “subscription” or “benefit.” Here is an example of a map where animation is essential, because multiple performances often occurred at different times of day in the same place. I’ve set the duration to be slower, so that there is time to see the color changes. However, the visibility of particular shows depend on a change in time of day.

Other notes so far on new additions to this version of CartoDB:

  • It is much easier now to set click or hover-based information pop-ups, which used to have to be entered in CSS form.
  • Although I haven’t done much with them, there are many more wysiwyg tools than before for annotation, titles, etc.
  • Once you get used to it, the forking of one dataset to many possible maps is useful.
  • The timebar in the lower left does not have the same visual appeal of CartoDB’s other features. I need to look into custom mods people have done.
  • Any kind of point-to-point map still requires custom code. Next time!