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Google Newsmap, the timeless online news treemap that not so long ago inadvertly was shut down by Google, has recently undergone an significant update. What originally could be found at marumushi.com (old version) has been redesigned and relocated to newsmap.jp (new version). According to Marcos Weskamp's recent blog post, version 2.0's new features include:

- Rectangularized Treemap Layout: cells are as rectangular as possible, so that there is more room for headlines without chopping them off in several lines.

- Search as you Type: users can search for keywords on the top right, and Newsmap will update immediately.

- Deep Linking: users can "deep link" to any state of Newsmap. As the view is updated, the URL will update as well. This URL can copied and shared.

- Mouse Hover Newstip: news story summaries and accompanying photos are revealed when hovering over the headlines.

- One can also notice the miniscule "Google" logo, what makes me wonder whether Google has somehow endorsed the visualization?

More features are anticipated, including storing search queries as new tabs, adding personalized RSS feeds to the map, and personal maps, revealing how one consumes news stories through Newsmap.

So, what do you think of the redesign? While I appreciate the sophisticated new features, it seems the new version has somewhat less aesthetic appeal. Is it the washed-out color scheme? The more scientific looking rectangular algorithm? Or the convoluted treemap that results when too many options are selected?





Newsmap is one of my favourite treemap examples and has been for a long time. I also much prefer the old colour scheme. The colours were somehow 'fresher' and punchier. For me, successful data visualisations manage to combine visual appeal with 'usefulness', so the new version is bit of let down, purely from an aesthetic point of view. But the new features are great. My two cents.

Fri 24 Apr 2009 at 11:57 PM

It's good to see him trying new features, new colors and new layouts. But hopefully his code is flexible enough so he can adjust any unpopular decisions to satisfy more users.

Sat 25 Apr 2009 at 1:07 PM

Finally fully usable URLs! Now it's easy to bookmark and share, extremely nice. Also I think the very simple move from square to rectangles makes perfect sense based on our screens, maximizing "screen real estate" ;)

Some imperfections stay (difficulty to "dive" into a news by clicking on related links, no re-centering of the tip box, washy yes fluo colors, ...) yet it's definitely a great tool becoming even better.

Im definitely expecting even more innovations by Marcos Weskamp!


PS : I think "powered by Google" just means that the application is running on GoogleAppEngine and/or is using Google APIs (definitely the news API I guess)

Sat 25 Apr 2009 at 11:00 PM

The increased uniformity of the rectangle aspect ratios makes it a bit more monotonous than it was previously, plus it seems like it's not capable of shading the background as darkly as it did previously for older articles (leading to that washed out color effect). The search feature is nice, though.

Wed 29 Apr 2009 at 6:42 PM
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