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John Paul Cook

Excel 2013 Data Explorer and GeoFlow make 3-D maps quick and easy

Excel add-ins Data Explorer and GeoFlow work well together, mainly because they just work. Simple, fast, and powerful. I started Excel 2013, used Data Explorer to search for, examine, and then download latitude-longitude data and finally used GeoFlow to plot an interactive 3-D visualization. I didn’t use any fancy Excel commands and the entire process took less than 3 minutes.

You can download the GeoFlow preview from here. It can also be used with Office 365.

Start by clicking the DATA EXPLORER tab. Click Online Search.


Figure 1. DATA EXPLORER tab in Excel 2013 Office Professional Plus.

I entered latitude longitude mountains as a search string. Once you like the way a dataset looks in preview mode, click USE to download it into Excel.


Figure 2. Wikipedia’s list of French mountains.

While the data is downloading, the worksheet is gray.


Figure 3. Download in progress.

After the download completes, the colors are restored. Go to the INSERT tab and click Map. Select Launch GeoFlow (it is a Map menu item not shown).


Figure 4. Click Map under the GeoFlow icon on the INSERT tab.

Zoom and rotate as desired.


Figure 5. GeoFlow’s interactive globe.

I decided to plot the names of the mountains on the map, which is why Name was selected. Under GEOGRAPHY, I selected Other because I didn’t see a category name that really matched name. After making a GEOGRAPHY selection, click Map It.


Figure 6. Mapping by mountain name and coordinates.

The locations of the mountains are shown in 2D – not very exciting.


Figure 7. Initial 2-D map.

To make the map 3-D, the Height column from the spreadsheet was selected.


Figure 8. Adding mountain height provides the third dimension.

After rotating a bit, the mouse cursor was placed over the tallest peak, Mont Blanc. Notice the elevation in meters in the annotation box.


Figure 9. Mouseover showing name and height.

If you prefer a heat map, change the CHART TYPE.


Figure 10. CHART TYPE changed to HeatMap.

It’s really as simple as it looks. It just works.

Published Saturday, June 15, 2013 8:35 PM by John Paul Cook

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About John Paul Cook

John Paul Cook is a Technology Solutions Professional for Microsoft's data platform and works out of Microsoft's Houston office. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. He is experienced in Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle database application design, development, and implementation. He has spoken at many conferences including Microsoft TechEd and the SQL PASS Summit. He has worked in oil and gas, financial, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. John is also a Registered Nurse who graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Master of Science in Nursing Informatics and is an active member of the Sigma Theta Tau nursing honor society. He volunteers as a nurse at clinics that treat low income patients. Contributing author to SQL Server MVP Deep Dives and SQL Server MVP Deep Dives Volume 2. Opinions expressed in John's blog are strictly his own and do not represent Microsoft in any way.

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