CHAPTER 8Scaling It Down

In the previous chapter, we discussed how you could prepare data so that it can be converted in a systematic and logical way into the visual elements that make up the final graphic. Charts can be described with a common language that captures how the data is transformed into ink on paper or pixels on the screen. Functional aesthetics concerns mapping these prepped data values into quantifiable features of the resulting graphic.

While presenting functionally aesthetic charts, size is important. Common tasks in which size is part of chart creation, involve the composition of a dashboard where multiple charts compete for space in a limited screen or when charts created on one display must then be retargeted to a different-sized one. The major challenge of developing techniques that facilitate resizing and creating multi-scale visualizations is the significant number of variations with which to represent a rescaled visualization properly. A visualization designer will typically struggle to express every detail of the visualization at a given scale while also considering every possible combination of display (or view) resolution, size, and aspect ratio.

Generalization refers to the process of abstracting the visual detail in a map to maintain the legibility of the map at any given scale (McMaster & Shea, 1992). In Chapters 1 and 2, we discussed how generalization is applied to maps to effectively convey what's important at that certain size given the context ...

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