Hands On

HERE Studio introduces Hexbins and Geocoding

By Raymond Camden | 10 July 2020

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This week we've introduced a pretty big update to HERE Studio. Along with bug fixes and performance updates we introduced two really cool new features. I'll walk you through them below and show some examples, but remember that you can sign up now yourself and play with Studio on our generous free tier - no credit card required! Let's get started by talking about hexbins.

Now - don't be afraid if you've never heard the term "hexbin" before. I certainly had not. At a high level, a hexbin is a way to represent multiple values into a more summarized form, shaped in the form of a hexbin. 

Ok, that probably didn't help much, but I think a picture may help a lot more. Consider this map of national parks in the United States.

mapjun2020image-1

There's quite a few points there, and while it isn't too much, it may be difficult to get an idea of where parks are distributed at a more high level view. Now consider the same view with hexbins enabled:

In the map above, the data has been grouped together into hexs where the darker the color means more features, or in our case, more parks. I really didn't "get" the concentration in DC before enabling this feature. 

As you zoom in, the hexbin display will intelligently redraw to represent information currently in view. Here's a closer look at the DC area.

Hexbins can be enabled in the project editor and give you control over both the color range, numeric labels, and more:

Hexbins are a "Add On" feature so if you've not upgraded yet, you'll be prompted to on working with them in the editor. Updating to "Add On" gives you other cool features as well so if you haven't yet checked it out, read our blog post on what "Add On" offers and why you should consider upgrading.

The next big update is more "behind the scenes" but just as useful - geocoding. Geocoding is the act of translating a text based address, like "New Orleans, LA", to a precise location with a latitude and longitude. We've got a nice REST-based API to do this for developers, but what about map makers using Studio? Now you've got a solution. Imagine a data set that includes address in text form, like this simple CSV file.


Name,Address
fii,"Lafayette, LA"
goo,"New Orleans, LA"
zoo,"Baton Rouge, LA"

Previously this wouldn't work with Studio because it needed a precise address. Now though Studio will recognize that the location isn't defined and prompt you:

If you say yes, a new screen will pop up asking you for help figuring out how to geocode your data:

In my case I know that the Address column has my addresses, so I can select it. As soon as I do, Studio shows me a sample of one of the values and let's my continue:

Hit Apply and you get one more confirmation before uploading:

And just to confirm that it worked, here's a map with my three rows of data properly geocoded:

Right now this is limited to CSV files but try it yourself and see. One of the things I've learned as I become more familiar with maps and mapping technology is that data cleanup/preparation can be a chore. This will go a long way to helping!

That's it for this update. Don't forget there's a "Support" link on the Studio site that leads to a feedback form where you can tell us what you would like to see in the future. Please let us know what would make life easier for you! (Well, in terms of making maps. ;)