Planetary Cartography

Exploration and Education

6709.4 - Development of a Planet Tool for an interactive School Atlas as eBook

Thursday, July 6
5:10 PM - 5:30 PM
Location: Harding

The Swiss World Atlas (SWA) is the most widely used school atlas in Switzerland. The second edition of its web version, the Swiss World Atlas interactive (SWAi), could have the format of an eBook. The presented work describes the development of the prototype of a planet tool for the SWAi as an eBook. The requirements for the planet tool are determined in co-operation with experts. For this purpose the contents of the SWA print edition 2010 (chapter «Solar System and Stars») are evaluated by experts in terms of importance to high school education. A structured questionnaire is used for conducting expert interviews, where, beside the evaluation of the SWA content, interactive representations of the solar system (presented at the ICC 2013) are assessed. An evaluation of presentation types for teaching content in terms of effectiveness in school lessons is carried out. Prior to the choice of a suitable eBook standard, for the development of the prototype, the technical and cartographical capabilities of the open eBook standards ePUB 3 and PDF are evaluated. In the design and development process a focus is placed on accurate and easy understandable depictions of the natural size ratios and distances in the solar system. Common known methods of application development (e. g. structural design, coding, testing) are applied. From a technical point of view only one fallback solution has to be implemented due to a rendering limit of the used test device (an iPad 3). The developed prototype includes the full range of content elements of modern multimedia eBooks: interactive (2-dimensional) graphics, video, audio, spreadsheets, photos and text. Four sample pages are composed with a fixed layout and are filled with content which was assessed by the experts as «relevant for high school education». One sample page contains a cartographical application with a 2-dimensional representation of the solar system. This page is developed as a complete eBook application where most of the visible content is created dynamically when the page loads in a reading system. Tools for zooming and scaling allow the exploration of the solar system with respect to the natural size ratios and the distances between the planets. The planets and orbits are projected into the ecliptical plane. Current positions are shown by default and an additional tool allows the depiction of the planet position at any time. Planet movements can be animated, both forwards and backwards. Another sample page shows the planets of the inner solar system in a direct comparison. This page is developed by enhancing a graphic file of a print production with interactive content. This approach shows how a multimedia eBook can be developed concurrent with the production of a printed atlas, in the process of a cross-media atlas production. The last two pages introduce the planet Saturn and Saturn’s moon Enceladus. These pages are designed with a typical eBook layout (with two resp. three colums) and contain multimedia elements like video and sound. Relevant planet characteristics are presented with spreadsheets. Interactive vector graphics and photos are enriched with sound and can be enlarged in a popup window. In the discussion of the presented results it is stated that the developed prototype of a planet tool fulfills the requirements which were determined in cooperation with experts in the first part of the thesis. The technical and cartographical capabilities of the open standard ePUB 3 are sufficient for the development of a planet tool for modern high school education.

Stephan Wondrak

Map editor
Swiss Federal Statistical Office

Stephan Wondrak, MSc. Studies in GI Science and Systems (2013-2016) and Cartography (1990-1995). First qualification as a prepress operator (1986-1989). Professional experiences as cartographer, map editor, web developer and cartography teacher. Employments: Swiss Federal Statistical Office (Neuchâtel, since 2014), ETH Zurich - Institute of Cartography and Geoinformation (2009-2014), Hallwag Kümmerly+Frey (Switzerland, 2006-2007), Mairdumont (Germany, 2000-2006). Further interests: Photography, Art, Alpinism.

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Henrik I. Hargitai

Postdoctoral Researcher
NASA Ames Research Center

Henrik I. Hargitai (Ph.D., 2007) is a planetary geomorphologist and media historian. He is a postdoctoral fellow at the NASA Ames Research Center. He taught planetary geomorphology, planetary cartography, typography, and media history as a senior lecturer at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary since 2002. He has a Ph.D. in Earth Sciences and Philosophy (Aesthetics). His study fields include planetary cartography, fluvial geomorphology, and the history and localization of planetary nomenclature. He participated in two Mars Desert Research Station simulations. He is the chair of the ICA Commission on Planetary Cartography.

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