Milestones of Weather Maps

Lab Reports, Timelines


This is a simple visualization exercise on Verite Timeline, which is an online data visualization tool that can be easily used to create a web-based interactive timeline. The purpose of this exercise is to learn how to use Verite Timeline with a theme from the history of statistical graph or data visualization as the content. So we could learn both the technique and theory at the same time. We are required to include 5-10 events on the timeline. The topic I chose is the milestones of the weather map.

Materials & Data

To gather the information on weather map’s history, I tried to use google. But finally, I decided to grab the data from Milestones in the history of thematic cartography, statistical graphics, and data visualization (Friendly & Denis, 2001) to avoid using unauthentic data.

Milestones in the history of thematic cartography, statistical graphics, and data visualization

To create the timeline, we used Verite Timeline which features a smooth, modern and responsive web-based interface. Users can put the data into a google spreadsheet template and enter the URL of the spreadsheet to Verite Timeline. Then the timeline can be automatically generated. On the spreadsheet, users can enter the start time (year, month, day, time), end time, headline, description, media, group and etc.. The timeline will look like a slide deck. The background of each slide can also be customized.

Verite Timeline


I started by searching on Milestones with the keyword “weather” and there were 6 related results coming out which is a good match to the requirement(5-10). Some of the data in the results such as the weather clock doesn’t have a photo. So I used Google Image to search for a proper image and cropped it. Verite doesn’t support local media. So I generated a URL for my image with ImgBB where you can upload an image and get a URL of it. Each slide represents a different historical stage. By putting images for them to demonstrate how the weather map looked and crediting the author, I felt the wisdom of these pioneers. For the descriptions, I used the text from Milestones.

Spreadsheet of Data

For the slide decoration, there isn’t too much freedom. Users are only allowed to change the background (color/image). I used a transition of black – brown – red, which the more black, the earlier, the more red, the later. So the viewer would have a sense of the changes from mono-color to modern colorful weather maps.

Result & Reflection

Project Link:

By creating this timeline, I got familiar with Verite Time. Its visual appearance and friendly interactions are very good design reference for me. Also, without the pioneers’ effort, I couldn’t gather the data so easily. Milestones is a wonderful resource for information visualization researchers. Although it looks simple, there is huge data behind it. I hope I will be able to use modern technologies to put a type of raw data into readable interactive graphics and provide the convenience to researchers.