Beginners Walkthrough of Google Fusion Tables Prepared for Hacks/Hackers Chicago

Thursday — at Hacks/Hackers Chicago — I’m lucky enough to be able to help lead a beginners’ walkthrough of using Google’s Fusion Tables to create wicked-fast maps of data points and merge data points with geographic shapes for mashup maps.

I say lucky, because a year ago this time, I didn’t know how to do any of this. But thanks to some detailed tutorials — which I’ve tried to link to — and the time of John Keefe, Jon Davenport, Christopher Groskopf, Ryan Murphy and countless others, I was able to learn how to make these maps, which pushed me further on my way to shedding all vestiages of my former sportswriter/editor self, and traveling down the road of javascript, web scraping with python and figuring out what an AWS instance is. And that requires a whole new round of thank-yous. 

But seriously, it’s my hope to be able to pass along what I’ve learned and continued to be inspired by this merging of journalism and code, with a dash of entrepreneurship.

Below is an outline of what I plan to talk about. If I’m missing anything, let me know in the comments, but remember this is the beginner portion, so I’m skipping the Google Maps API for now and focusing on the iframe embeds.

Derek Eder and Juan-Pablo Velez have the intermediate to advanced — aka code-time — portion of the program.

Also included are a list of bookmarks to the various things I’ll be using in the presentation, in case you want a head start.

I’ve posted a demo map and the basic iframe embed code to make it as well, you know… in case you want to get started.

Data Mapping with Fusion Tables for beginners

  • Fusion Tables Walkthrough
    • Offer a handy spreadsheet function.
    • Basic intro to some easy geocoding of addresses, which means easy maps.
    • Merge/mashup with additional data/geo sources.
    • API allows access/re-purpose of stored data.

  • Mapping the Data
    • Create Fusion Table
      • Import from Google Spreadsheet
      • Upload from file
      • Create a new table
    • Column Types
      • Location for Geocoding
    • Visualize data as a map
      • Adjust column to generate location
      • Custom Info windows
      • Custom Markers
      • iframe embed code

Data Used in Demo

Tables Used in Demo

Geo Shapes & Geo Shape Upload

Example Maps