Why it's not possible to zoom in published locator maps

If you're reading this article, you probably created a locator map that covers a big area, with lots of markers all over the place. And now you want your readers to be able to zoom into the map, to help them understand where exactly these markers are located. 

Our locator maps don't allow your readers to do so currently. This article explains why and explains how a symbol map can be an alternative to provide a useful map.

Why is it not possible to zoom in locator maps?

Datawrapper is a tool designed to enable people to quickly and easily create visualizations to communicate a story. 

Our locator maps (like the rest of our chart types) were therefore built with the goal to enable you to explain something to readers, not to enable your readers to explore the data themselves. That's why we prioritize annotations over interactivity.

Here's a locator map that shows the intended use case. You see that it shows  only a few markers and explains them well:

So why not have both, annotations & interactivity? Because that's not easy. How would annotations behave if the user could change the view of a map? A zoom/pan functionality in locator maps could mean the reader either accidentally or on purpose leaves the important view and gets lost in the map, or or ends up just playing around and misusing the embed as a Google Maps style tool. 

That's not what our locator maps are meant to be used for. This kind of interaction would distract readers from the actual thing you're trying to communicate, we're afraid.

The symbol map as an alternative

In many cases, a symbol map can be a solution. A symbol map is one of the three map types you can create with Datawrapper, and can be zoomed in & out:

This might help with the specific use case you're dealing with. 

However, we understand that in many cases, this is not the desired solution. Symbol maps don't have annotations to date. And sometimes you want to visualize a dataset with lots of symbols, as in our symbol maps, but with that finer-grain geographical context that our locator maps include; like streets, rivers or mountains.

While you can't produce these kind of maps with Datawrapper yet, we will add some kind of functionality in this direction in the future.

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