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Alteryx Designer Knowledge Base

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How To: Add an Inset Map

Moderator
Moderator
Created on

Inset maps, depending on whether they are larger (zoomed in) or smaller (zoomed out) in scale, can provide some valuable detail or point of reference information respectively, while also providing a little more interest to your map at the same time. Creating an inset map is relatively simple, but does require several steps to get it to look right. In the example below, we will create an overview inset map (smaller scale) which will allow the map reader to see a much broader area around the main focus of the map, in turn providing a greater area for spatial reference.

 

To create an inset map, follow these steps:

  1. Create your main map.

    Step 01.png

  2. Copy the Report Map tool used in the main map and paste it on the canvas. This will serve as the core of the inset map and prevent you from having to recreate most of the map elements.

    Step 02.png

  3. In the Settings tab of the new Report Map tool:
    1. Change the Map Size of the overview map to something in the neighborhood of 2 x 2 inches. You don't want this too big so that it covers important parts of your main map, or too small to be of use.

      Step 03A.png


    2. Adjust the Expand Extent Minimum Width to meet your particular needs. In this example, I have set it to 75 miles. You can leave the default of 10% as the Minimum Width will override this.

      Step 03B.png


    3. In the Legend tab, choose '[None]' for the Position as we won't need or have room for a legend on the inset map.

      Step 03C.png


  4. Connect all of the layers that you want to show on the inset map.

    Step 04.png


  5. Add any additional layers as points of reference. County boundaries have been added in this example.

    Step 05.png


  6. SInce the inset map needs to be much smaller in both size and scale, it is recommended that you make adjustments to the map layers, including the standard TomTom base layers.
    • Reduce the size of points and width of lines and polygons. This will make them much more legible considering the smaller size and scale of the inset.
    • Depending on the scale of your inset map, you may also want to disable some of the standard TomTom base layers found in the Layers tab. For example, at a relatively small scale, you would not necessarily want to show city parks, smaller cities, golf courses, etc. Now, some of these might automatically turn off depending on the scale of your inset, but it is a good practice to go through the base layers and turn off any of them which you feel will only clutter the overview map.

      Step 06.png


  7. Join the map to the main map. Important: If you are producing multiple maps at once, you will want to join the inset map to the main map by the 'Group' field, using the 'Specific Field' option. Otherwise, you can join by Record Position.

    Step 07.png


  8. Using the Overlay tool, add the inset to the main map. I personally prefer to reduce the Padding to 0.2 inches all the way around as I feel that the default 0.5 inches allows the inset to intrude too much into the main map. Same goes for the legend.

    Step 08.png

 

Bonus Tip!:

One of the standard outputs from the Report Map tool is a field called 'BoundingRect' (Bounding Rectangle). Add the bounding rectangle to the inset map (and format appropriately) to show the extent of the main map. See the red rectangle in the inset of the final map below.

 

Bonus.png

 

 Final Map (bounding rectangle in red):

 MapExample.png

 

Things to Consider:

  • An inset map can also be of larger scale in order to show more detail.
  • The inset map itself may cover over important details of the main map, such as nearby stores or competitors, for example. Make sure that this is acceptable to your use case, while also keeping in mind that the overview inset map can show these objects that are covered by the inset itself.
  • A border was added to the inset map, as well as to the main map and legend. You can take a look at the attached worflow to see how the Layout tool was used to do this. Details regarding this will be discussed in a separate, soon to be released, Knowledge Base article.
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Asteroid
Excellent write up!
Moderator
Moderator

Thanks @TR! Much appreciated and thanks for reading!

Meteoroid

I was curious if you could elaborate on how you included the county borders on the insert map.  I could not download the workflow because I did not have the necessary items installed on my computer.  Thanks!

Moderator
Moderator

Hi @D_Bucci. The County layer was added to the map with the Input Data tool. I have the spatial data set and used the County data. If you don't have the spatial data, you could always pull down some free data from the Census Bureau (https://www.census.gov/geo/maps-data/data/tiger-cart-boundary.html).

 

Does that answer your question?


Thanks!

Meteoroid

I appreciate the timely response.  Correct me if I am wrong but you are saying that your input data already had spatial info included that draws the county boundaries?  Additionally, with the link you provided I am confused as to what files I should be downloading.  Any info you can provide to clear up this confusion would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks again

Moderator
Moderator

Hi @D_Bucci, you are very welcome. This workflow assumes that you have a spatial license with data. This allows for the drawing of drive time trade areas, the base map and the county boundaries, among other things. The free county Census boundaries that I was suggesting can be found here: https://www.census.gov/geo/maps-data/data/cbf/cbf_counties.html. In Alteryx, you would open the .shp file.

 

Thank you,


Dan