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  • Top 10 Geospatial Tips and Tricks

    Tips and Tricks for Geospatial Analytics.

    The map visualization in TIBCO Spotfire® is the core way to visualize geographical data but this tool also provides a gateway to more advanced computational geoanalytics methods. Here are a few of my favorite tips and tricks for maps and geospatial methods

    1. Tips for navigation controls

    The basic controls in the TIBCO Spotfire® map visualization are fairly self-evident but there are a few hidden features:

    • Navigation controls
      • Use the + and - buttons to zoom in or out, or use the mouse wheel.
      • The bottom target will zoom to the marked items or if not items are marked, all items
      • Use the magnifying glass to search for a region by name.
    • Interaction controls:
      • Choose from panning or marking when you click and drag the mouse. 
      • You can mark by a rectangle, lasso, or circle. With the rectangle or circle marking, the length and width (rectangle) or radius (circle) is displayed, with the default map projection (EPSG:3587 - WGS84/PseudoMercator)
      • You can change the default distance units displayed, (Metric, Imperial, or Nautical miles) through the menu Tools -> Options, then select the Map Chart section.

    When marking items, you can use a number of keyboard shortcuts:

    ActionKeyboard Shortcut
    Temporarily switch to lasso markingPress and hold the Alt (option) key and left mouse button simultaneously and draw with the mouse
    Temporarily switch to radius (circle) markingPress and hold the Shift key and the left mouse button simultaneously while drawing a circle with the mouse
    Zoom to a specified areaPress and hold the Shift + Ctrl + Alt (option) keys while marking a region.
    Add to selection using the current marking toolPress and hold the control and command keys (mac) while making a selection

    2. Work with layers

    Spotfire map charts allow you to use many different layers to represent your data.  You can set up a custom background layer, and use shapefiles, markers, and lines for the individual layers.  Layers can respond to marking and filtering and can be configured to appear only at certain zoom levels.  You can control the order of layers, and transparency.

    Go to the map chart Properties -> Layers control for full control.  Some controls are accessible from the layers control in the map.

    • You can add, delete layers, and make them visible or invisible, from the Layers control
    • Control which layer responds to the marking from the Layers control on the map
    • Re-arrange layers to change the order using the Move Forward and Move Backward buttons in the Layers section of the Map chart properties dialog.   The layer ordering control which elements appear in front or behind other elements
    • Change the transparency of a layer from the Appearance section of the layer properties
    • Use TMS or WMS layers.
      • TMS and WMS layers may be added into Spotfire 7.6 and above for custom backgrounds such as custom map backgrounds and satellite imagery.  These can also provide live updates of real-time information such as weather, traffic conditions, flood, or fire hazards. These layers are image renders from web services and can provide insights and style to dxp files. Some are free and some are paid.
      • See a list of TMS and WMS Spotfire sources here.
    • Set map chart defaults. For example, you can configure Spotfire to load a TMS map layer by default, which is useful if you use custom layers frequently.  With these defaults in place, whenever you create a new map visualization it will appear with this layer in place.  You can also load several TMS layers by default, and then delete unused layers from a new map visualization after it is created, which is faster than configuring these each time.
      • Go to Tools >> Options and select Map Chart. You can add layers including TMS layers, with this tool.

    3. Geocode addresses, Calculate an itinerary between two points, trade areas, and driving distances

    TIBCO GeoAnalytics is a cloud-based, high-performance, and scalable geospatial technology to geo-enable your data and develop location-based applications.   Using this service you can:

    4. Use Coordinate Reference Systems

    • You can mix and match data that use different Coordinate Reference Systems (CRS), just select the appropriate CRS on each layer by going to the layer's Settings - Positioning dialog.
    • If your data is expressed in general x-y coordinates, e.g. pixels, select "None" as the coordinate reference system (CRS) for both the layer and the main map chart properties (Map Chart Properties >> Appearance. 
    • Include a background image.
      • From map chart properties go to Add - Image and then browse for the image to use in the background.
      • In the Extent dialog, enter the minimum (1) and maximum pixels that define the height and width of the image.   All of the other layers will use these coordinates.

    5. Enhance plots with data functions downloaded from Community Exchange

    • contour plot,
    • density plot,
    • spatial heat maps

    6. Computational Geoanalytics

    • Voronoi Polygons
    • Points in Polygons
    • Draw circles
    • Create polygons from ordered points

    7. Drag an External Image file to a Map Chart

    • regular jpg file
    • GeoTIFF file

    8. Right-click to capture map coordinates

    9. Use Google Street View to populate markers

    See the recent blog post on this topic that describes how to embed a Google Street View URL into labels, from latitude and longitude

    10. See our Community page on TIBCO Location Analytics

    Many of these tips and more are organized on our TIBCO Location Analytics page. Look for more tips, tricks, and links.

    11. Create your own shapefiles by digitizing regions on an image

    You can create your own custom shapefiles using 3rd party programs such as QGIS.  This is done by loading the source image into the program and defining your own polygons based on the image.   You can then link your polygons to a separate Spotfire data table so the polygons can be colored, marked, and respond to filtering.  The source image can be used as the background image to provide an interactive experience.

    • Read the step-by-step article Custom Spotfire Maps - SFO Airport by Neil Kanugo on how to create a clickable Spotfire visualization of the San Francisco Airport layout.
    • Watch the Dr. Spotfire session ?
      ? (May 2018) where Divya Jyoti Rajdev and Neil Kanungo discuss this San Francisco Airport layout shapefile and its creation process using QGIS.
    • See the Creating custom Shapefiles article by Arnaud Varin for an in-depth walkthrough of QGIS to create your own custom Shapefiles.

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