Making Data Beautiful: The Map

Hi everyone! Luke here, I’ve been locked in a room playing with data and building the website. I will now emerge into the world of blogging to update you all on my progress. This is the first of a few posts about what I’ve been up to and some of the problems I’ve faced.

I’ve been working on taking all the data that is coming from the balloon and presenting the user with a nice GUI built into the website. I wanted the data to look good and be live and I’ve settled on the idea of a map and graphing. This post will be about just the map for today.

We get a lot of data from the balloon (which is good!), therefore I decided to separate off the gps data from the rest. I thought it would be much easier to understand and better displayed as a separate map overlay. There were a few APIs for achieving this that I looked at but the Google Maps API was the one I finally settled on for a few reasons. Firstly it is the most recognisable map meaning people are used to it and know their way around it. Secondly documentation online is very good for it and it is widely used which means that problems with it have already been discussed. Finally they make it easy to adapt with the well written API. It was relatively easy to overlay the path of travel and add icons for the balloon and launch.

I still need to make this update live without the need to refresh the page but I am making some significant progress in this field in the non-live code. Feel free to check out the source code of our site ( for how it was implemented and email me on for any questions or suggestions.

Luke Ellison