Interface design for geographic visualization: tools for representing reliability

David Howard, Alan M. MacEachren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Digital "softcopy" maps are becoming the norm - replacing static paper maps in applications from wayfinding to scientific research. As a result, the design of interface tools that allow users to manipulate map parameters effectively and efficiently is likely to become as fundamental to cartography as the design of maps themselves. This article presents some principles for the design of interfaces to geo-referenced data. These principles are summarized in a hierarchical approach to interface design with conceptual, operational, and implementational levels. This hierarchical approach leads designers from questions about the goals of the system and the users of that system to the creation of tools to accomplish those goals and interface controls that allow effective interaction with the tools. The article goes on to describe the application of these principles to a prototype geographic visualization system designed for exploration of spatial data sets and visualization of reliability of both data and data abstractions associated with environmental change. The prototype involves a synthesis of concepts and methods derived from cartography, scientific visualization, and exploratory data analysis into a system for exploratory spatial data analysis and spatial decision support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-77
Number of pages19
JournalCartography and Geographic Information Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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