Interactive maps, now in your language

IMagin is all you need to know about a foreign land, but the only map you have was written in a mysterious script that you could not read. This may sound like a plot twist from some adventure story, but it is actually visitors coming to Wikimedia projects — including Wikipedia — often found themselves until recently.

An extension called Cartographer enables Wikimedia to create interactive maps by supplying the longitude and latitude of a location. The map of Asia below demonstrates this issue. To fully understand this, a reader will need to know no less than seven different writing systems.

It is labeled in seven different writing systems (right to left): Japanese, Korean, Latin (for Vietnam), Chinese, Lao, Thai and Burmese. Go to Dynamic Map, and read more about its copyright license. 
Another problem with cartographer maps was that until recently, the entire service was not available on most Wikipedia. Editors on these wikis can be linked to interactive maps, but they lacked the “mapframe” feature that allows you to embed maps on a page.

A Wish Fulfilled In 

2017, the user user community rallied behind a proposal in the Community Wishlist poll, requesting cartographer improvements, making it the most voted wishlist item of the year. The main wish of the proposal was to fix the cartographer so that maps were displayed in the language of the reader. In January of this year, the Foundation’s collaboration team received an assignment to address this and other issues with the cartographer, and the Map Improvement 2018 project was born.

Rewriting Cartographer so it displays maps in every script and language of the planet was a significant challenge – I mentioned that there is no other mapping service that even tries. But after much laborious work, last month the map community got its wish with the release of “Map Internationalization”.

At the same time, the Map Improvement Project provided the ability to embed the map on a wiki page on Wikipedia, which previously contained Wikipedia, not including the English Wikipedia. Now, maps such as the one below – which no longer shows the babble of languages ​​and alphabets – can be displayed on almost all Wikimedia wikis. *

Same map after internationalization. All labels are in this case Wiki-English language. Go to Dynamic Map, and read more about its copyright license.

Since the week we have released international maps in all wiki projects, users have already placed more than 60,000 new mapframe maps on wiki pages. These are possible due to the large number of templates that volunteers can code to automatically pull geo-coordinates from Wikidata and generate maps on hundreds or thousands of pages at once. 

Citing a few examples, looking at only Wikipedia that did not already have a mapframe: Koreans now use mapframes to show the location of metro stations, Italians are mapping football stadiums (see illustration), English Wikipedians are walking the streets, and Bengali pinpoints sites of American universities.

More on this below. ** 

Users are spreading interactive maps around a large number of wikis, as they provide many benefits. As indicated in the examples only, mapframe maps are easier to generate than previous locator maps, which were to be created as graphics and uploaded individually. And, of course, dynamic maps are less likely to become outdated as boundaries change place names and page layouts.

Limitations and Workarounds Like 

Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap (OSM) is an open-source project, meaning that its map data, including name data, are created by volunteers. What names are available in which language varies from language to language and from place to place.

In general, the names of countries, states, provinces, and major cities exist in many languages, while smaller cities and geographic features may or may not be available in the language you want. The table below shows the relative strengths of “multilingual name data”, as is known, among the 25 most widely available OSM languages.

With internationalization, the cartographer tries to present the map in the content language of the wiki where the map appears. When the software encounters a location or other map feature for which it cannot find a name in the desired language, it returns as gracefully as possible


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