It’s been a while… so why not meet up in Madrid?

Dear Map Design Community:

It’s been a while since this blog has been used. A lot has happened since the last post, in both map design and life. My apologies for the Commission’s absence. This falls on me.

For those of you who have stuck it out, thank you.

I plan to use this regularly again moving forward.

To reward your patience, I invite you to…

Submit a paper abstract to the upcoming conference –  Atlases in Time – taking place in Madrid, Spain, from April 20 – 23, 2022.  

The Atlases in Time Conference is being coordinated by three ICA Commissions, including Map Design, Toponyms, and Atlases, and Spain’s IGN to celebrate the organization’s 150th birthday.

Due to this conference being part of a birthday celebration, there are no conference fees. You only need to cover transportation, lodging, and meals. Field trips planned by the IGN will also be included – information on these is forthcoming.

For more information, please visit our conference website.

Or go directly to the Call for Abstracts page for more detailed information.

The deadline for submission is coming fast – February 15 – but the abstract needs to be 500 words or less, so don’t let the time crunch deter you! 🙂

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly or reach us via our conference contact page here.

Let’s meet up in Madrid this April! I look forward to seeing many of you there.


Ian Muehlenhaus
Chair, ICA Commission on Map Design


Official details extracted from the Call for Abstracts web page follow:

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the National Geographic Institute of Spain (IGN) being founded in 1870 – the IGN is the publishing institution of the National Atlas of Spain – the ICA Commission on Atlases, the ICA Commission on Map Design and the ICA/IGU Commission on Toponymy, together with the IGN and the Spanish Society for Cartography, Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (SECFT) organise a conference on National and Regional Atlases from 20 to 23 April 2022 in Madrid.

During six sessions of four presentations each, questions concerning evolving dissemination concepts and techniques for atlases, recent development and examples of National Atlases as well as important map design and toponomastic issues in atlas production will be discussed.

Presentations will be held in a classic 20 min format of 15 minutes speaking with 5 minutes of discussion. A publication of the contributions as papers or abstracts will be carried out. Also accepted abstracts will be published using the ICA-Abstracts platform.

Your abstract shall not exceed 500 words and may be submitted as doc., .docx or .pdf-file.

ICC2015 Pre-Conference Workshop details

The International Cartographic Conference takes place in Rio de Janeiro from 23 to 28 August 2015 (see Decisions on acceptance of papers for the main conference have recently been shared with authors and so you may have started thinking about your travel plans this summer. We hope that in these travel plans there will also be room to participate in the pre-ICC2015 workshops that we are organizing with the Federal University of Paraná in the city of Curitiba, Brazil. These workshops will take place on Thursday 20 and Friday 21 August 2015. This means you will have ample time to travel from Curitiba to Rio de Janeiro, which, by the way, is relatively cheap and only lasts 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Curitiba will host two different one-day workshops through collaborations between ICA Commissions including the Commission on Map Design.

Workshop 1 (on 20 August 2015): Designing and Conducting User Studies
This workshop is co-organized by the ICA Commissions on Use and User Issues and Cognitive Visualization. It is typically a training workshop which is meant for people who want to learn more about how to execute user research. Members of both commissions will moderate a series of teaching modules.

Workshop 2 (on 21 August 2015): Envisioning the Future of Cartographic Research
This workshop is co-organized by four ICA Commissions:  Cognitive Visualization; Use and User Issues; Geovisualization and Map Design. The nature of this interactive workshop is completely different from Workshop 1. It is directed towards making progress on a new research agenda for interactive cartography and geovisualization. Preparations for this workshop have already begun with the involvement of a variety of commission members who made submissions to our call for proposals of what are the current ‘big problems’ in interactive cartography.

We received 19 submissions, some of which had overlaps with others. In the process of narrowing down these topics to what we can reasonably work on in a workshop, the workshop steering committee has decided to see further input from our commissions:

Therefore, whether or not you can come to the workshop, we would like to ask for five minutes of your time before 8 March to rate the topics, which we have distilled into a question or short statement. Please visit our Google Moderator page: (click on the View Ideas button to see the questions) and rate each proposal – whether you like or don’t like it. We will then use this as an input to make a final decision on which three or four topics we will choose. These topics will then be posted on the webpage and those attending the workshop can nominate which one they would most like to work on.

After you have done this, we would like to invite you to visit the webpage

This webpage contains all the information you may need about the two workshops and also offers facilities to register for one or both workshops in Curitiba. We would like to ask you to register a.s.a.p. but, in any case, before 1 July 2015. Registration for our workshops will only be possible through this website and not through the main ICC2015 website.

You will have to book your own travel and overnight accommodation in Curitiba. The website provides information to help you with this.

We hope to welcome many of you in Curitiba this summer!

ICC 2015 Pre-Conference Workshop

The Commission on Map Design has joined with the Commissions on Cognitive Visualization, Geovisialization, and Use and User Issues for a pre-conference workshop ahead of the International Cartographic Conference in Rio, August 2015. This will take place on August 21, 2015 at the Paraná Federal University (UFPR) in Curitiba, Brazil.

“The leadership of the ICA commissions believes that it is time to consider the cartographic research landscape as a whole, along with its relationships to cognate fields (e.g., computer science, information visualization, user experience research, cognitive science & psychology), in order to identify areas of research that could benefit from our collective efforts. The workshop will take the first step towards producing a research agenda that reflects current challenges and to define how, as a group, we could tackle them.”

Please see the full announcement on the workshop web page and consider getting involved to establish a platform for defining and addressing ‘big problems’ in cartography.

Cartographic Design and Aesthetics FAQ

The Commission on Map Design co-sponsored a session at the meeting of the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) in Portland, Oregon in 2012. The purpose of the session, spread over a number of activities was to provide a forum to discuss aesthetics in cartography; to begin to bring together thoughts on the definition, purpose and value of aesthetics for practicing cartographers and those simply making maps.

A special issue of Cartographic Perspectives (Vol 73) has been published that records much of the work at this meeting and provides an important and timely expression of aesthetics in cartography.  The full set of papers are freely available as HTML or PDF downloads here and an editorial written by Commission Vice Chair Alexander Kent along with Chair Kenneth Field and Vice Chairs Bernie Jenny and Anja Hopfstock introduces the issue by discussing cartographic design and aesthetics as an FAQ.

ICC 2013 preconference workshop “Mapping in a digital world”

Organized by the ICA Commissions on Map Design and Neocartography, this one-day workshop pre-conference to the ICA International Cartographic Conference 2013 will explore practical themes relating to the design and creation of effective online maps and information products. The updated schedule is now available below and we very much look forward to your participation in Dresden this coming Saturday (24th August 2013).

Morning presentations by a range of acknowledged experts in the field will seek to provide an overview of the state-of-the-art as well as touch on some of the challenges we face. Afternoon presentations will look at more specific user-oriented projects. We will share ideas and seek to develop common threads to take work in this area forward as part of a series of lightning talks and a panel discussion. Please come prepared to participate…

The workshop is being held in Room 101, 1st floor of the Lecture Hall of the TU Dresden, Bergstraße 64, 01069 Dresden, Germany

We aim to start at 9:30 and we are providing full morning and afternoon refreshments as well as lunch. There is no cost to attend the workshop.

There’s still time to join us and participants can Register Here


09:30 – 09:40      Welcome and introduction (Kenneth Field, Esri Inc and Steve Chilton, University of Middlesex)

09:40 – 10:00      Thoughts on the future of mapping in a digital world (Georg Gartner, President of ICA)

10:00 – 10:30      New paradigms in digital, interactive realtime cartography (Andrew Turner, Esri Inc)

10:30 – 11:00      The aesthetics of mapping (Alex Kent, Canterbury Christ Church University)

11:00 – 11:30      Break (refreshments provided)

11:30 – 12:00      The state of the mapping API (Gary Gale, Nokia)

12:00 – 12:30      Re-Designing the Next Generation of Multi-scale World Topographic Maps: A Changing Landscape (Damien Demaj, Esri Inc)

12:30 – 13:30       Lunch (lunch provided)

13:30 – 13:50       Multiple ways to depict the World (Julia Mia Stirnemann, Universität Bern)

13:50 – 14:10      Color for Online Mapping: Still difficult to choose (Beate Weninger, HafenCity University Hamburg)

14:10 – 14:30      Map activities in Wikipedia and the cooperation with OpenStreetMap (Tim Alder, Wikipedia/OpenStreetMap activist)

14:30 – 14:50      It’s Not Just Interactivity: Web Map Layout, Design, and Aesthetics (Ian Muehlenhaus, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse)

14:50 – 15:20      Break (refreshments provided)

15:20 – 16:00       Lightning talks by participants to be determined unconference style

16:00 – 16:45       Panel discussion led by the organisers

Panel: Andrew Turner, Gary Gale, Damien Demaj, Alex Kent, [led by Kenneth Field & Steve Chilton]

The panel will be invited to discuss a range of themes that have emerged throughout the day and also topics that the participants wish to explore.  In particular, we’re keen to explore how a research agenda for design in online mapping might be shaped for the next few years.  What are the major challenges and opportunities?  How might these be approached and, possibly, solved? What can the ICA Commissions do to push forward research and/or action?

16:45 – 17:00 Closing remarks

Organizers: Kenneth Field, Alexander Kent, Bernie Jenny, AnjaHopfstock (ICA Commission on Map Design); Steve Chilton, Manuela Schmidt, Andrew Turner (ICA Commission on Neocartography)

There’s still time to join us and participants can Register Here

ICA Commission activity at AAG 2013

The ICA Commissions on Map Design and Neocartography hosted a series of three paper sessions at the Association of American Geographer’s Annual Meeting in Los Angeles in April. Organised and chaired by Kenneth Field (Chair Map Design) and Andrew Turner (vice-chair Neocartography), the sessions brought together a terrific mix of cutting edge work on a wide variety of topics that cross-cut themes of map design in the digital age.

Ken (Esri) began the first session with a paper co-authored by Professor William Cartwright (RMIT) on the Use and Abuse of Harry Beck’s tube map. The focus here was squarely on design and the issues facing cartography as more and more people use a schematic tube map, inspired by Beck, as a template for their own maps. Mike Peterson (University of Nebraska at Omaha) explored the range of approaches available to digital map-makers and how the various APIs can be leveraged. Ryan Mullins (Penn State) showcased SymbolStore as a forum for creating and sharing point marker symbols. It’s a useful repository that cartographers would be well advised to check out. Aileen buckley (Esri) presented examples from her work on designing effective spatiol-temporal maps. Aileen presented a good summary of current web map examples and demonstrated some approaches to developing the techniques in ArcGIS. Closing the first session, Andrew Turner (Esri) used his experience of the hacking community to present a compelling picture of how neocartographic approaches are contributing to the response, management and recovery in crises. His examples ranged from Haiti to Sandy and allowed us to plot the way in which mapping technologies have matured in such a short space of time to provide fundamental support.

John Kostelnick (Illinois State university) picked up the mantle from Andrew for the second session as he looked specifically at design of map symbology to support crisis mapping by International humanitarian organisations. Shunfu Hu (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) then illustrated how his work operationalised some of the work that Mike Peterson had been discussion earlier. Ahmad S. Massasati (University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown) reminded us that map design isn’t the preserve of vector data by focussing on some of the issues relating to  Mosaicking and Georeferencing Old Aerial Photography. In what he claimed was his first ever presentation in English, Jong Lee did a great job explaining his research into the design and testing of animated maps.  His practical approach to creating interactive web maps picked up some of the themes outlined earlier by Aileen and tied together a number of salient points in terms of design principles. The final paper in the second session was given by Gordon Green whose work in mapping the rooftop cooling potential of New York City demonstrated that good design in a web environment was a function of getting both the science right as well as the interface.

The final session comprised three papers from young researchers. Victoria Loughlan (University of Edinburgh) carried on the theme of humanitarian mapping for UN peace operations. Gary Huffman (Penn State) presented his work on Natural Language Processing in ArcGIS to provide advanced search capabilities. John Clary (The University of Texas at Austin) mapped personal electronic communications and touched upon big data as well as information design.

Thanks to all the presenters and also to those who attended…particularly given the unfavorable slot we’d been allocated in the AAG schedule! We had a vibrant conversation that we hope will continue to emerge as map design becomes a crucial component of information communication now we’re in a web map world.


Map Design Sessions at AAG 2012

The ICA Commission on Map Design will hold two sessions at the AAG in New York (February 24–28) in conjunction with the ICA Commission on Cognitive Issues in Visualization. These sessions provide an opportunity for participants and attendees to explore emerging issues in map design and begin to shape an agenda for the work of the Commission for the next four years. We very much encourage participation and emphasize the inclusivity of our approach to map design from traditional techniques to neo-cartography and beyond.

Papers will explore emerging cartographic design issues, the impact of the online and mobile revolution on cartography, geovisualization; infographics design; use of GIS as a cartographic design tool and new or reasserted methods to effectively visualize spatial information in map displays.