Enabling Collaborative Cybercartography with MapBlender
- Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University, Denmark
Keywords: cybercartography, collaboration, GIS
Abstract. One of the challenges that GIS users in diverse, distributed teams face these days is being able to efficiently collaborate, both across workspaces and tools. To that end, we present MapBlender, a cybercartographic application that fosters geocollaboration by adapting a collaboration-first approach, placing users and their GIS tools on equal footing. MapBlender allows all connected users to share video feeds of their GIS tools and webcams, which can then be freely rearranged and re-sized, adopting simple and familiar interaction techniques from modern window managers. In addition, the rendering and translucency of these feeds can be adjusted, allowing users to align and analyze information across tools. We demonstrate the utility of MapBlender in a hybrid teaching scenario, wherein a representative of a software company uses our application to instruct co-located and remote learners from another company on the features of their GIS tool. MapBlender is publicly available under open source licenses and runs in the browser, with no local installation necessary. Thus, with MapBlender in place, one of our goals is to promote an HCI perspective on future work in geocollaboration.