Flow mapping is a cartographic method of representing movement of phenomena. Maps of this type often depict the vector movement of entities (imports and exports, people, information) between geographic areas, but the general method also encompasses a range of graphics illustrating networks (e.g., transit and communications grids) and dynamic systems (e.g., wind and water currents). Most flow maps typically use line symbols of varying widths, lengths, shapes, colors, or speeds (in the case of animated flow maps) to show the quality, direction, and magnitude of movements. Aesthetic considerations for flow maps are numerous and their production is often done manually without significant automation. Flow maps frequently use distorted underlying geography to accommodate the placement of flow paths, which are often dramatically smoothed/abstracted into visually pleasing curves or simply straight lines. In the extreme, such maps lack a geographic coordinate space and are more diagrammatic, as in Sankey diagrams, alluvial diagrams, slope graphs, and circle migration plots. Whatever their form, good flow maps should effectively visualize the relative magnitude and direction of movement or potential movement between a one or more origins and destinations.
The Cartography & Visualization section encapsulates competencies related to the design and use of maps and mapping technology. This section covers core topics of reference and thematic maps design, as well as the emerging topics of interaction design, web map design, and mobile map design. This section also covers historical and contemporary influences on cartography and evolving data and critical considerations for map design and use.
Topics in this Knowledge Area are listed thematically below. Existing topics are in regular font and linked directly to their original entries (published in 2006; these contain only Learning Objectives). Entries that have been updated and expanded are in bold. Forthcoming, future topics are italicized.