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May 21, 2014

Stop Creating Custom Maps Manually in JMP

I started to work at JMP this past summer as a student intern. One of my first projects was to create a background map for the office temperatures study. As you probably know, JMP 9 can graph map shapes using built-in map files. JMP can also work from user-created shapes, which can be imported from ERSI SHP files or created from scratch. To make the latter process easier, I created the visual Custom Map Creator add-in.

Shapes in JMP are defined by two different data tables that work together, a name file and an XY file. The name file contains the ID and name of the shape that you are defining. The XY file contains four different columns that define the shape coordinates. The first column is the ID of the shape that is defined in the name file. There is also a part ID, which is used if you have multiple parts to a single shape. For example, if you were defining Hawaii, each island would be a part, and all of the islands would have the same shape ID. Finally, the X and Y columns specify the location of one particular point in the boundary.

In the image below, shape 50 has six rows that correspond to the six points. Since the shape is not broken into multiple pieces, it has one part.

a shape that has 6 rows and 6 points

The process of creating the shapes by hand is tedious at best, but the Custom Shape Creator add-in allows you to create the different shape boundaries with the click of a button. All you have to do is drag the image that you want to model into the Custom Map Creator window and use your mouse to define each boundary.

The image shown below is the start of my recreation of the offices map. The Custom Map Creator has a few different visualization options to help you make your boundaries. The line width and color can be changed, in addition to being able to fill the shapes in with a random color (as enabled in the picture below).

I recreated the office map in about 25 minutes with this add-in. No more manually entering in coordinates! As an added bonus, the magnifying glass still works so your map can be really detailed.

The Custom Map Creator is available on the JMP File Exchange. If you have any awesome maps that you created and would like to share I’d love to see them in the comments.

Community Member

Ekaterina Karaslavova wrote:

It seems like a neat tool. I am having trouble using it though. I need to map out some rectangular shapes and drawing directly inside the GUI does not work very well. I have the grid lines, both horizontal and vertical on, but still. Maybe there is a better way to use it. I have not been able to figure it out, though.

Community Member

Tim wrote:

Very cool. I have a question. I notice you show hallways and offices. Could you create an algorithm that automatically determine the fastest path to take from one office to the next?

Community Member

AnnMaria wrote:

Wow, this is awesome. I must admit I don't have any immediate need for it but it looks fun. Also, how can I not have been aware of the JMP file exchange? My life is incomplete.

Community Member

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[...] a recent post, Justin Mosiman explained how to use the Custom Map Creator, a JMP add-in, to build your own map. Just a few [...]

Community Member

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[...] real estate values over time. The shapes shown on the map are based on ZIP codes (I created custom shape files using data from the US Census Bureau). The slider is set to a fairly low percent so that most [...]