Why Map UI Patterns?

This site provides a language for planning and building map applications. It discusses principles, components of varying complexity, and features that all together inform design decisions for your next project.

The elements of this language are entities called user interface (UI) patterns. Each pattern describes a solution to an observed and recurring problem. It explains when to use the pattern and motivates why it is important and what to consider. Throughout the site patterns are being discussed in a general and abstract way, being fully aware that there is never a one-fits-all solution to any given problem. All the contrary, a pattern is meant to assist and encourage you to build upon, to improve, to use as a starting point, and to iterate until it meets your specific needs and conditions.

UI Patterns describe solutions to observed and recurring problems

Patterns are living entities, existing patterns are evolving, new ones will be emerging, and outdated ones may disappear. But at the core a language arose, a language that empowers us to name things and talk about it. As a community concerned with creating geographical information products we gradually become more conscious of the building blocks that are needed to construct interfaces that showcase our observations and insights. As a direct result, we will become better at communicating our problems and understanding the real needs of our users. It’s easy to ask for and even add this one additional feature to an app, but only the knowledge of the correct usage and the understanding of its implications help us making an educated decision of what, when, and why to use and apply a specific pattern.

Design cannot live in isolation, it is always a composite of wisdom across multiple disciplines. Patterns help to capture this collective wisdom through its many uses and therefore form the basis for best practices that can be studied and applied. Utilizing these practices eliminate wasted time spent reinventing the wheel and will inevitably reduce time and costs during the design and development lifecycles.

With the rise of online maps and applications that make use of interactive maps came the need to study and understand how maps serve and can be used in an already crowded eco-system of user interface elements. Different to static maps, interactive maps are rich controls embedded in the structure of a web or native application, used to interrogate the information within and enhanced with tools to utilize, analyze and manipulate the content provided.

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