Creating Amazing Reports using Maps and Charts in MapInfo


Since our last post, we have received many compliments from people who downloaded the last Presentation of the Market Share of Mobile Operators in Brazil, regarding to slides that include graphs and maps together (associated). Thank you for the messages! :slight_smile:

But beyond say thanks, many people also asked how to do that. That is, how to use charts and maps together, making it even easier to ‘read’ the information.

Indeed, reports like these (sometimes we call infographics - when they include other graphic devices) always has the goal - and often succeed - to pass the information in a more ‘clean’ or simplified way. For example, in the picture above: The darker the region on the map, the greater the number of users on it; and associated with each region, we have bar charts showing the simple and direct comparison of the market share of each operator - all of course, as stated in the legend.

Therefore, reports like these are really interesting, and can be used in several other ways - not just as today in our example.

The good news is that making such reports is not complicated. If you have the data available in a table (eg in Excel), and if you already use some GIS software like MapInfo, just follow today’s tutorial and see how to get things done.

Note: We will do a demonstration using MapInfo, but the same result can be achieved with similar software like ArcGIS.

The sample files can be downloaded at the end of the tutorial. But before we go there, let’s learn how to do it?

First, a question: Why should I use charts and maps together?

Everyone knows well the saying goes - “a picture is worth a thousand words.” We can make an analogy, adapting to the world of the reports: “better a graph than a table with a thousand lines.”

And also all know the advantages of seeing the information on a map - we have a geographical view of the area of interest - where the data is located!

And if these maps are thematized - ie vary the styles (colors, shapes) according to certain values - and on top are associated with graphics, then we have a much more efficient way of analysis!

NOTE: You may think so, or have found someone who thinks: ‘A lot of information in one place is just too polluted!’. Yes, we agree with this: when is exaggerated! In most cases, when the infographic is well done, after a short time ‘understanding’ of the legend, the final information ends up being assimilated ia a much more simplified, practical and complete way!

Creating a report using Maps and Charts in MapInfo

Whether you are convinced or not of the advantages of creating this type of report, we invite you to follow the following step by step, where a report like this will be demonstrated from the start.

Let’s start with a simple map - our area of interest. In this example we will use a map with the states of Brazil.

As we’ll associate the map regions to values (to color as the same) it is important to define a key field that allows us to make this association (the same key field for association must exist in the value table). In our map table shown below, each state (each line) corresponds to one object (region). We chose to use the 'StateCode field to link map data to the value table.

Of course, we now need a table with the values that will be mapped and also will be shown in the regions of the map and in the charts.

For this, we use a simple table in Excel, with the main data fields, and also a field with the state ID (1) so that we can join the two tables - the table with regions and table of values.

We have our table. We need to open it in MapInfo. Then we access the menu ‘File’ -> ‘Open…’ and navigate to the location where the Excel file with the data is.

Following the normal steps to open an Excel data sheet (we’ve seen this in other tutorials), our table is opened in MapInfo: ‘Brasil_Total’.

At this point, we have a table with the regions and another table with values. The next step is to join these two tables. Let’s use the ‘StateCode’ field of the regions table and ‘UF’ field of the table of values.

And to do that we will use SQL. We access the Menu ‘Query’ -> ‘SQL Select…’.

Clicking on the comboboxes of the right (1), we write our SQL so that the field ‘from Tables’ stay as’ Brazil_States, Brasil_TOTAL’ (2), and ‘where Condition’ field equals’ Brazil_States.StateCode = Brasil_TOTAL. UF '(3). To give a more meaningful name our new table (query), fill the ‘Into Table Named’ field as ‘BR_Total’ (4). To confirm that everything is OK, we can click the ‘Verify’ button (5) and receive the message that the syntax is correct. Finally, clicking the OK button (6).

After clicking the OK button we already see our ‘new’ table: information of regions + values together!

Creating a thematic map of the regions according to the values

Remembering: our goal today is to create a thematic map (coloring regions according to their values), and also associate each region to a bar chart - which actually is another thematic map, only in the form of graphs.

So let’s start creating the thematic maps for areas. In the Layers Control add the table ‘BT_Total’ (1) that we created with SQL above. (To make a thematic map, it is necessary that the table is added as a layer).

Now that we have our ‘BR_Total’ table, if we want we can clear up (1) the table ‘Brazil_States’ from Layer Control.

This is because the ‘BR Total’ layer is the layer on which we will make our thematic maps: one coloring regions of the map, and other creating associated graphics for each region.

We will improve some aspect of this base layer. For this, we double-click on it in the ‘Layer Control’ (1), and in the new window, in the ‘Layer Display’ tab, we mark the ‘Style Override’ (2) and click the icon to change the region (3).

Here you can make adjustments. We chose to leave a filled white background (1) and a thin light gray edge (2). Feel free to adjust the way you want.

Continuing, we will finally create our thematic map. Colouring each region according to a range: number of users intervals.

Start accessing the Menu ‘Map’ -> ‘Create Thematic Map…’ (1) - or simply pressing ‘F9’.

In ‘Type’ we choose ‘Ranges’ (1), and for ‘Template Name’ (2) we choose ‘Region Ranges, Solid Grey, Dark-Light’ (3) which is what serves us, and we click on ‘Next’ (4).

Then in ‘Table’ (1) we chose ‘BR Total’ and in ‘Field’ (2) we chose ‘ALL_OPERATORS’ because we know that this field is the one that contains the total number of users added to all operators for each State.

As we click the ‘Next’ button, MapInfo presents us with a standard thematic map (with data ranges automatically calculated in order to have more or less the same number of samples in each one).

This result may not be what you want - you may prefer to use your own pre-defined ranges. In this case you can modify the thematic map you’ve just created. For this, again go to the menu ‘Map’, but now choose ‘Modify Thematic Map…’. (Alternatively, you can double-click this layer - which is available in the ‘Layer Control’ when you create any thematic map).

On the ‘Modify Thematic Map’ window, click the ‘Ranges …’ button to customize it. You can for example change the calculation method and set the ranges and rounding according to what you want (and as well as we did).

Also on the window ‘Modify Thematic Map’, you can click the ‘Styles …’ button, giving access to various types of styles to your ranges.

Still on the window ‘Modify Thematic Map’, by clicking the ‘Legend …’ button you can make a number of changes in the legend.

Important: remember that, although with changes in ranges, styles and legends, thematic maps always convey the same information: each according to its legend and range and styles chosen!

With the changes we made in our example above, we have the following map (ranges, labels and custom styles).

Returning one last time to the window ‘Modify Thematic Map’, we can save all our settings in a template - by clicking the ‘Save as …’ button next to the name ‘Template’. Thus, we can use again, if we need to repeat this type of report.

Creating thematic map with charts associated to the regions

We can move to the next and final step: create graphs associated with each state, not the absolute number of users, but now with the percentage / distribution of the market share.

The four major operators in Brazil are VIVO, TIM, CLARO and OI. We have in our table the fields with this information: ‘VIVOPerc’, ‘TIMPerc’, ‘CLAROPerc’ and ‘OIPerc’ - representing respectively the percentage of market share of each operator in each state. We only need then show it on the map - or rather, in the charts.

For this, we create another thematic map. Only now we choose ‘Type’ equal to ‘Bar Charts’ (1).

We select the fields that contains the data of market share of each operator (1), and click the ‘Add’ button (2) so adding the fields that will be used in charts. Then we click the ‘Next’ button (3).

Again MapInfo presents a standard thematic map suggestion. We can ‘accept’ what we were shown, but we can also make changes to styles - ‘Styles …’ button (1) and the legend - ‘Legend …’ button (2).

To make changes in the styles of of the charts bars, we click ‘Styles …’ button. You can make several changes, including the height (1) and width (2) of the bars of charts.

To make changes in the legend, we click the ‘Legend …’ button, and change it as we wish.

Finally, we have our full report with colorful map of the regions according to the ranges of values chosen by us, and each region with themed associated bars graphics!

The darker the region on the map, the greater the number of users (more concentrated users there); and associated with each region, we have bar charts showing the simple and direct comparison (view through the of the charts scale) the market share of each operator - and in case of doubt, we can always see the Legend!

You can repeat the above process by entering other tables of values, other layers and also other thematic maps.

We hope that everything we show today has served as a help to you that want to get reports like this as well. With a little practice you will be creating amazing reports - as the old saying goes: ‘practice leads to perfection’! :slight_smile:


If you want to repeat the steps shown in this tutorial, you can download the sample files.

Click here to download: telecomhall_tips_(Amazing_Reports_Maps_and_Charts_in_Mapinfo).zip (241.1 KB)


Today we saw another tip for using the MapInfo, now as a tool for creating very interesting report by associating charts to the thematic areas of a map.

The visualization of the entire scene in a single infographic is more complete, allowing a more efficient analysis.

Continue to follow our tutorials, and also participating.

We are striving to do a job with more quality for you, with more and more tips and tutorials from around the world Telecom & IT! And we count on your help sharing this article, criticizing and suggesting new tutorials. Remember: with the sharing and mutual help, everyone always win! :slight_smile:

See you in next tutorial.