Data visualization and storytelling


How to create stunning animated point maps without coding

The updated “3D map” template can animate tens of thousands of dots to show movement over time. Ideal for visualizing transport, logistics and the movement of people.

We recently launched a powerful new feature in our “3D map” template. In addition to letting you plot points over time in fixed locations, it also lets you animate the points. This is really great if you want to show where something – like a ship, plane, car or person – has traveled.

So for example, below is a map of Chicago. Each colored dot is one train on the city’s “L” network. Notice how the dots don’t pulse and disappear, but they persist – moving along their path from one position to the next.

Example by Katherine Riley

The only difference between something like this and a timeline-style map with points in fixed positions (such as this example showing AirBnB rentals in Istanbul), is one additional column setting. This “Name/ID” column tells the template which rows represent the same entity, so they can animate through time. In the example above, the “Name/ID” column contains unique the identifiers given to each full train trip.

Animating color and size

The sizes and colors of the dots will also smoothly transition if they change over time. So for example you could make a map showing a bus moving through a city getting bigger and smaller to reflect the number of passengers. Or a map of a delivery network colored to show whether each vehicle is ahead or behind schedule.

How to get started

Open the “3D map” template and upload a spreadsheet with – at a minimum – latitude, longitude, some kind of time column and some kind of “Name/ID” column. For more information, read our help doc and our our blog post on the basics of the “3D map” template. We can’t wait to see what you make with this!

Make an animated point map »