(Note: sorry, blog wasn’t letting me log in last night.)
Sketching out possible UIs has helped me realize how I need to narrow down the scope of this project, as well as get a proof-of-concept “1.0″ version running while I specify how to generalize for further versions.
What problem is your project aimed at solving? Alternatively, why would someone want to use what you are making in your project?
My project is aimed at being an ancillary tool after the CA Redistricting project. Though I’ve since found that the redistricting in only concerned with balancing new districts by population (how many people, only) info to be gathered in the 2010 Census, policy people might be interested in seeing how districts have changed in economic, racial, education, and other compositions over the last few decades.
Perhaps even using a time slider to show a change in “heat maps” after users have selected one or two criteria, would give a good visualization of these changes.
Is your project doable given the constraints of time, our starting knowledge, etc?
Narrowing the scope and learning as much from existing tools will be key in this.
What interface are you imagining? Is it a web, desktop, or mobile
application? What platform are you running?
As I mentioned in my early proposal, I’d want this to be a web-based tool, so that anyone can access it. The data are all public, so that shouldn’t be a bar.
Do the APIs you plan to use actually support the functionality that you need in your application? Show how it does so.
The trick will be translating the proprietary map formats to something readily available for web-based mapping and presentation tools. Am looking into that.
What programming language do you plan to use?
Tentative Action Plan
Step 1: Corner elusive policy people and get best suggestions from them about what data they’d most like to see visualized.
Step 2: Learn more about the map data formats, and how to break them out of application-based presentation.
Step 3: Go through existing map visualization tools. Steal what I can.
Step 4: Get a display of one district map up and running.
Step 5: Prototype UI widgets that will overlay demographic data (initially only one option) on map.
Step 6: Add options to UI widgets. Test color/pattern combinations.
1. This may end up being relatively trivial use to the Redistricting Commission, as they are tightly constrained simply by number of population.
2. My CS help may get overwhelmed with other projects, leaving me a bit stranded by my over-reach.