Troubleshooting with maps
Maps can be daunting to make at first. The added dimension of geographic data which can come in all kinds of less familiar file formats makes things a little more complex, but with our selection of templates, you'll be a map expert in no time.
In this help doc, we'll be covering what to do when you face some common issues with making maps. Whatever map you're trying to create, we'll point you in the right direction.
It's a good idea to first check our Projection map starting points to check we don't already have the regions you need. You'll find attributions for all the region files in these starting points in the source in the footer when you create a visualization with them.
If we don't have the regions you need as a starting point, check out our GeoJSON repository where we've collected reliably-sourced region files for you to download, that are all resized and ready to create your own custom maps in Flourish.
If you still can't find the regions you're looking for, try statistical and government bodies for the regions you need. And do let us know if you find some good sources so we can add them to our GeoJSON repository. Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you can only find different filetypes like shapefiles or TopoJSONs, you can always follow our help doc on how to convert these to GeoJSON with Mapshaper.
If our starting points on the template chooser page don't match the regions you need, you can upload your own GeoJSON. If you have your regions in a different file format (like shapefile or TopoJSON), don't worry, we've found a free, easy-to-use tool that can help. Mapshaper.org lets you easily convert shapefiles and TopoJSONs to the GeoJSON format you'll need for Flourish.
Follow our help doc on how to convert to GeoJSON to get started.
GeoJSON files can be huge, particularly if you are plotting very low-level geographies or a lot of regions. This is usually because the details within shape regions take up a lot of space. If you are uploading a large GeoJSON file to a template, you may find the template struggles to handle it. To make your map display well and load quickly, we generally recommend using GeoJSONs of up to 5MB in size.
If your GeoJSON is larger, you can use Mapshaper.org to simplify your GeoJSON. Simplifying reduces the number of corners and detail your GeoJSON has, and as a result, reduced the file size.
To get started, follow our help doc on how to simplify GeoJSON files.
If you've successfully uploaded your GeoJSON, but your regions aren't displaying, this could well be because your GeoJSON isn't projected right. To confirm this, go to the Data tab, and on your Regions sheet check if you are seeing small icons of your regions in the Geometry column.
These should look like small, black shapes of your regions. If you don't see these, and instead this column is populated with things like Polygon and MultiPolygon (see above), this confirms that the GeoJSON is in the wrong coordinate projection system.
That sounds complicated but don't worry, this is another typical troubleshooting issue where Mapshaper.org has you covered. Follow our help doc on how to make your coordinates WGS84 and you'll be good to go.
If the starting points on our template chooser page don't cover the regions you need, you can upload your own GeoJSON. But sometimes, you might have totally custom regions that no one has made a GeoJSON file of yet.
If this is the case, we've got a selection of help docs that explain how you can create your own custom regions, based on an existing GeoJSON file.
Firstly, if one of our starting points is close to what you need but includes some extra regions you don't want, follow our help doc on how to delete regions from your map.
If you need to merge together or split out regions, this will require you to jump into Mapshaper.org to get them sorted. You'll need to have an existing GeoJSON to work from (for example, you could download the world map of countries from our starting point) and you can follow these two help docs to get you started:
Map projections are different ways of flattening the 3D globe onto a flat surface. They involve an awful lot of complicated maths, but essentially they just change the way your map looks.
In different projections, parts of the map might appear more squished or stretched, so there are map projections that are more or less suitable to use in different circumstances.
Check out our help doc on when to use which map projection for more information.