Saturday, December 27, 2008

Basic Grouping to Show Differentiation

What are we talking about here?
Creating basic maps that simply map all addresses are useful, but grouping allows you to kick things up a notch.

Let’s say you are mapping your wedding attendee list for your wedding website and want to allow the map viewer to easily differentiate between the bride’s family and the groom’s family. MapAList has a Map Type built to handle just that – it’s called Group by Distinct Column Values (using unique pin images) and can be selected in Step 4 – Configure Map of the map creation process.

This Map Type allows you to tell MapAList which column in your worksheet contains the grouping attribute. MapAList then examines the values in that column and assigns a unique pin image to each distinct value. Running with the wedding example, what this means is that you would need a column in your worksheet that associates each address with the bride or groom…let’s take a look at an example.

What does it look like from a spreadsheet perspective?
In the sample spreadsheet below, you can see a column called Group which is used to distinguish each address as a member of the bride’s family, a member of the groom’s family, or a friend. Note that you may need to click on the image below and drag to the right to see this column (due to the way Blogger sizes iframes). I could have called the column anything I wanted – for example Family or Side, MapAList doesn’t care. I could also have additional values in the Group column – for example Groomsmen and Bridesmaids. The point I’m trying to get across is that the number of groups is not limited to 3. You could have 50…all MapAList needs to know is the name of the column that contains the grouping attributes. So let’s see what we get when we map this sheet…

What does it look like from a map perspective?

What you can see is that MapAList selected red pins to represent the addresses associated with the bride’s family white pins to represent the groom’s family, and green pins to represent friends. If my worksheet had contained addresses with a Group called Groomsmen, we would have seen a 4th pin type on the left side of the map that represented the Groomsmen addresses and the associated pins on the map.

Okay – so walk me through it step by step…
The process is very much like making a basic map that shows all addresses – the key difference is in Step 4 – Configure Map below:

Step 4 – Configure Map
•Choose Group by Distinct Column Values (using unique pin images).

Click on the image to take a closer look

•Choose the Column that contains the attribute that you would like to group by.
Click on the image to take a closer look

•Click on the Preview Map button to display your map. A unique pin image will represent each distinct column value in the column you selected.
•Click on the Next button.

Step 5 – Save Map
•Modify Additional Setting as you see fit.
•Click on the Save & View Map button.
•Click on the Close This, and Create New Map button.

What are other users doing with this feature?
So now that you know how to use Basic Grouping to Show Differentiation, give some thought to how you might use it. Other users have used grouping to differentiate between:

•Bride’s and groom’s friends/family (you saw that one coming)
•Sales targets that are hot/medium/cold
•Clients using specific versions of a their software
•Types of crimes committed in a specific area
•Regular and premium users of a website
•Destinations visited in 2008, 2007, 2006, etc.
•Comment and us how you're using Basic Grouping

Hope this was helpful...more to come.

--The Map Commissioner (E-mail)


  1. Can I have more than one value in the differentiation column and have mapalist display 2 pins such as bride,friend or do I need to put the same address on 2 lines with bride on 1 line and friend on the other?

  2. I have the same question as Bonnie

  3. Did anyone come up with an answer for multiple pins on a single record?

  4. you can have multiple differentiations - you have to set the "Comparison Operator" drop down to "contains" ...

  5. I am going to use the grouping feature to differentiate between "routes" that our cub scouts will use to sell cub scout popcorn.

  6. After I have configured the map to assign unique pins to different data types, can I save those settings and reapply them to new data sets?

  7. Greetings! Thanking you for an educational tutorial. Utilize $100-$500 Writing Scholarship if it's high time to hand in an essay that's not ready yet ;-)