Create a Map: Posts and Hashtags

Maps are all about adding data sources and building out the visualization

Commons Support avatar
Written by Commons Support
Updated over a week ago

Maps let subscribers package your data visually before shipping it off to all of your eager audiences. 

Maps can have multiple data sources on them, but for simplicity sake, these help articles cover different data types separately.

First, let's create a map that displays posts that users have shared to you group with the keyword cows.

Quick reminder, Water Reporter Posts are geo-located photos that have been shared by Water Reporter Community users with your subscription group, usually via the mobile app.

Let's get started

Navigate in your dashboard to the Maps homepage. To create a new map, click on the green plus circle.

Name your Map. This will appear at the top of the map's legend so choose something your audience can understand.

Description will appear below the map name - it's a great location to give users a brief overview of what they will learn from exploring your map.

Click save. And then enter your map to customize it to your needs.

If you don't make ANY changes to your Map, you still have a portable map accessible by the URL and iFrame available on the main maps landing page. Click on the URL to take a look at your map. This is a screenshot of the map that results from no edits to the Map options.

This map displays the latest 100 posts that users have shared with your group. Only posts that have been shared to your group will be available to appear on that group's maps.

You may want to spend some time polishing this map and curating what posts appear. For this tutorial map we only want to show posts that are related to cows

Each map has three sections with many customizable options. Let's walk through each one.

General Settings

Let's walk through all of the way that you can customize and curate this map.

Hide Posts

Since this article is focusing on observational posts, we do NOT want to hide the posts. Keep this toggle OFF.

Hide Legend

The Water Reporter legend appears in the left hand corner of every map. If you want to hide the legend upon the first load, toggle on this feature so it's green. This feature operates the horizontal aspect of the legend.

Show Map Details

This feature operates the vertical aspect of the legend. So you can unhide the legend but keep the map details hidden. Since we are not showing any ranges, let's keep the details hidden for this demonstration map.

Embed Code

Your embed code is useful to stick your map into a website, like a package-able widget. Maps all update themselves, so once you'd added the map to your site, it will update automatically whenever new posts are shared or new data is uploaded.

Your embed code will not change after you create a map UNLESS you add post filters, like we are about to do. If you change the filters for an existing map the map's links will update. So if it's an existing map that you've embedded into your website, you'll need to adjust the code on the backend of your website.

Post Filters

For this map, we only want to display posts of cows. Click the Post Filter Toggle to turn it on. Choose the option that you want to use and enter in the correct details. It's important to note that the filters only work for AND operations. Meaning, if you chose Word: Cows and Tag: #pollution, your map would only display posts that met both of those criteria.

Check out how the embed code has changed by inserting the instructions surrounding Cows thanks to the chosen filters.

Click Save. This is the new map only posts  that have been shared with this group and with the word cow appear.

Let's move on to the next tab.

Layer Styles


Water Reporter currently has two layer integrations: 

  • USA Weather Watches and Warnings

  • 3-Day Precipitation Forecast

If you select either of these layers, a system-generated layer will be added to your legend. Users can turn on and off the layer after it loads. As the map owner, you cannot edit any of the information for these layers.

Watershed Boundaries

Add one or more boundaries to this map. We have a few tricks to help you find your watersheds if you're not sure of the watersheds that you want to display. 

  • Refer to an individual post, to grab the HUC8 watershed.

  • In the search bar, type in a state to get a list of all HUC8 watersheds in that state.

  • For HUC12 delineations, upload coordinates as stations in a Data Source Stations. The list of stations will identify the HUC12 where it is located.

All watershed delineations are based on the National Hydrologic Dataset or NHD and Water Reporter has no ability to re-name the watersheds. 

After you've added watersheds, the system opens up to allow you to customize the look of those polygons.

Fill Color

The color you choose will fill the polygon for all watersheds. 

Fill Opacity

Choose a number between 0 and 1, like .25 to determine the opacity of the watershed polygon(s) fill color. If you select 1, there will be no transparency and if you select 0 then the polygons will not appear.

Stroke Width

Stroke is a fancy name for the outline of the polygon. How thick do you want the outline to be? It needs to be greater than 0 to appear.

Stroke Color

Choose the polygon outline color.

Stroke Opacity

Like fill, choose a number between 0 and 1 to show the opacity level. If you select 1 it will be a solid line, 0 will not appear.

Map Style

Change the base layer using the assortment of map styles available to you. 

You can also load additional layers built through the MapBox program by adding the public Mapbox Access Token.

Click Save!

Check out the map now.

Data Display

 This is the data display page. Because this map only displays geo-located posts, we don't have any data to add. 

Your map is now done! 

As a final step, return to the General Setting Tab. Scroll down to the bottom and create a shareable post. You can add in a comment and then click the blue arrow to ship and send a link to your map.

This post will appear in the Water Reporter feed and on your group's feed. You can share the post through Water Reporter to your Facebook and Twitter accounts for an even further, portable reach! 

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