Tuesday 24 September 2013

Swiss Topographic Maps

Edward Tufte argues that the Swiss National mountain maps:  

"... provide a standard of excellence for serious information displays. Specifically:
- all about content
- high-resolution
- vigorous expression of third dimension
- local details always imbedded in larger context
- use of appropriate light colors to avoid optical clutter
- realistic, content-driven colors
- smart, graceful typography done by serious typographers
- size of type proportional to size of object labeled (type is quantified)
- intense quantitative data by means of contour lines (at sparkline resolution)
- contours = sparklines that flow in three dimensions!
- thorough, natural integration of words, numbers, depictions
- shows intense local data information in position without annoying pop-ups
- zero chartjunk, all pixels carrying content
- many exact numbers provided (labels for contour lines, and the height of mountain peaks)
- avoids dequantification found in much datviz stuff
- all about content
- great content (the Swiss Alps!)
- open-source, non-proprietary formats
- driven by content, a spirit of public service, pride in the forever craft of cartography
- not driven by marketplace ethics, not driven by focus groups".
They are available HERE including 1957 vintage topographic maps for purchase.