Friday, March 14, 2014

Mapping Minard's Napoleon Flow Map


Charles Minard was a pioneer of the use of graphics in engineering and statistics. Probably his most famous creation was a flow map showing Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign of 1812. His map displayed:
  • the army's location and direction, showing where units split off and rejoined
  • the declining size of the army
  • the freezing temperatures (by date) during the retreat
Napoleon's March, Leaflet Data Visualization Framework's modern reworking of Minard's flow map is a good attempt at a slippy map visualization of the Napoleonic army's movements and dwindling size. Unfortunately the map lack's Minard's temperature chart that visualized the freezing temperatures faced by Napoleon's army as they pushed eastwards.

There used to be a good Google Maps based visualization of Minard's flow map, created by Mike Bostock. Unfortunately Minard's Naopleon has fallen fowl of Google's discontinuation of version 2 of the Google Maps API. Ironically the timeline temperature is all that survives now. However the code is still there if anyone wants to update it to work with version 3 of the Google Maps API.
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