This article was last updated January 2015
eSpatial makes it easy to plot data on a map. However, before you upload your Excel data, you should know what you want to achieve – your "mapping goal".
Your mapping goal when you plot data on a map can be simple or complex
Steps to get what you want:
1. Define the purpose of your map
There is always an over-riding reason to plot data on a map. What yours?
- Do you want to simply convey a sense of proximity or distance between locations?
- Do you want to convey a level of data intensity in a particular area?
- Do you want to visualize distances between two related datasets – e.g., if you supply fresh baked goods to supermarkets, how close are your bakeries to those supermarkets?
- Do you want to divide up a map so that sales regions are equitably assigned?
2. What kind of a map?
Once you have clearly defined your purpose, then you can quickly proceed to choose the type of map you want. So for the questions posed above the answers could be:
3. How much data do you want to plot on a map?
Many mapping companies – including eSpatial – offer various versions of their mapping software, from a free trial version to a premium paid version. What’s most important to you is the upload limits that apply to the different versions. Usually premium versions offer the highest amount of daily upload limits – but a cheaper version may satisfy your upload needs.
Bottom line: work out how much data you will be uploading (and how regularly) and choose the best fit for your needs.
4. Make sure you know how to plot data on a map
While mapping software should be relatively easy to use, we all need a little help sometimes, which is when dedicated (and knowledgeable) support becomes invaluable. This support can come in many forms: real-time tuition, user forums, video tutorials, help pages, etc. Ensure that he mapping software you are planning to use has all this. There is no point in downloading software if you don’t know how to use it – and there’s no one to show you how. So choose wisely.