A couple weeks back, I was taking a look at a map that had been put together on Flowing Data for Walmart openings since the retail giant got started. It’s an awesome video and a great way to show the organic growth over time. In some ways, it looks like the spread of a virus or plague. Watching stores seed in new areas and quickly followed by a dozen others was pretty spectacular.
In their blog post on the map, they provide downloads for both the code and data. I wanted to see how this was all put together, so I grabbed the both items. The interesting bit about the mapping done in the animation is that it is flash-based, and I don’t know jack about writing and developing in flash. That got me to thinking, could I do something similar with the data in Power Map?
Walmart Data in Power Map
The answer is yes, and that it is very easy. Mind you, when I started working on this, I was in the Jacksonville airport and I had never opened Power Map before. My inexperience with Power Map didn’t turn out to be an issue. With the help of some product documentation, I was able to build my first Power Map tour and add in a timeline to see how the store openings looked compared to what Flowing Data put out.
Here is the end result:
Building My First Power Map
Now that you’ve seen the end result, let’s take a look about how to cook up this animation. In this next video, I review the steps needed to build the Power Map based on the Walmart store open data. It summarizes the steps that I worked through over the course of about 30-45 minutes in a 5 minutes; which is all it takes me now to throw data together in Power Map.
Power Map is a fairly powerful tool and pretty easy to setup. Simple graphics and animations over maps that used to require expensive development tools and lots of experience are a thing of the past. Any business analyst, or former database administrator, can make a map that makes it look like the growth of Walmart over the few decades is the coming zombie plague taking over the country.