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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Scalar: Advanced Topics: Scalar Map Widget and Google Map Layout

This is a short guide to Scalar's advanced features

Overview of Scalar Map Widget and Google Map Layout

Scalar uses Google Maps to place items in their geographic context. There are two ways to foreground maps on your page. The first option is to embed an interactive map of media items in the body of your Scalar page, using the Scalar Map widget. The second option is to plot an interactive map of any items that your page contains or tags in the header (at the top of your page), using Google Map Layout. Please note that visualization through Scalar’s native map requires Google API keys. To create these visualizations, the media item must contain the geospatial coordinates of a location in either the Sdcterms:coverage or dcterms:spatial metadata field. The "Measuring Coordinates of Media Items" section of this page contains information on how to measure the geospatial coordinates of a location.

Measuring Coordinates of Media Items

  1. Open the Google Maps app.
  2. Type in the place associated with your media item on the “Search Google Maps” box and press Enter, or tap a place on the map. Then, a red pin will appear to signal the location of the place on the map.

  3. Right click on the pin. The coordinates should appear on the pop-up in decimal degrees (e.g. 41.87972025753222, -87.62373475328728). Google gives latitude first, longitude second. Latitude coordinates in the northern hemisphere will be positive whereas those for locations in the southern hemisphere will be negative. Places east of Greenwich, England will be positive; west, negative.

  4. Copy the coordinates by left clicking the location’s decimal degrees. “Copied to Clipboard” will appear as a pop-up message at the bottom. Please keep in mind that these coordinates can be very specific. For most projects, it would be inappropriate to add information about someone’s home address or current location for security and privacy reasons.



Adding Coordinates to Media Items

Once you get the geospatial coordinates of the location pertaining to your media item, you can add the information to Scalar by taking the following steps.

  1. Navigate to an existing media item from Dashboard. Then, click on the pencil-shaped Edit icon.

  2. Find the Metadata tab and click “Add additional metadata.”

  3. Select dcterms:spatial from the pop-up and click “Add fields.”

  4. You will see the dcterms:spatial field created. Fill in latitude and longitude in decimal degrees in the field (e.g. 41.87972025753222, -87.62373475328728) and then click “Save and view.”

  5. Repeat this process for each of the media items you want to plot on the map.

Once you have media items with respective geospatial coordinates, you can plot them to a map in the body of text using a Map widget, or in the header using Google Map Layout. Each fulfills a different function in the context of your argument, so please choose an appropriate style that best suits you. Below is how to do so.

Adding Map to Scalar Page Using a Map Widget

You can embed as many maps you’d like. This strategy is effective if you want to encourage the reader to engage with the map as they read through your prose text or if you need to contextualize your media items because of their sensitive content. 

Here is how you do it. 

  1. On your Scalar page, place the curser in the location you would like to embed a map and click on “Insert Inline Scalar Widget Link” in the page editor. 

  2. Choose “Map” from the widget options. 

  3. A pop-up window will display various content items. Filter by media. 

  4. Choose a media item or selection of items you want to plot on the map. Then click Continue.

  5. Choose your formatting options for the widget from the pop-up. If you want to include descriptive or explanatory text below the widget, choose “Custom text” under “Caption” and enter it there. Then, click “Insert map widget.”

  6. Click “Save and View.” You will be able to see the map plotted where you want it to appear like below. 


Using Google Map Layout to Structure a Scalar Page

You can also embed a map in the header (at the top of your Scalar page). Media content on the map will display a thumbnail, link, and title. This display strategy is effective if you would like to make media items the central focus.

Here is how you do it.

  1. Select Google Maps from the Layout drop down on a new or working page.

  2. In the Relationships drop down, select Tag.

  3. Click “To make this page a tag” to choose the media items that tag the current page.

  4. A pop-up window will appear to display all content items. In the content selector, filter by media. Then, select as many media items you want to plot. Click “Add selected.”

  5. Click “Save and View.” You will be able to see the map plotted in the header like below.

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