Sophora Add-on DDJM: Data Driven Journalism with Maps

Data journalism made by Sophora: Data Driven Journalism with Maps is designed for geographic data and contains a mapping document including a table for geographic information.

Data Journalism: The World in Numbers

Governments, companies and non-governmental organizations (NGO) provide accessible data to the public (open data). For journalists the question arises, how they prospectively handle available large data sets.

Sophora's add-on Data Driven Journalism with Maps (DDJM) supports data journalists in their daily work. The challenge of today’s journalism is to evaluate efficiently constant growth of data amounts and to provide it understandable for readers. The more extensive data sets become, the more journalists need technical support. By offering Data Driven Journalism with Maps Sophora provides editors with a tool for capturing, evaluating and plotting geographic data in Sophora.

Basically, the add-on depicts all geographic information on an interactive map and contains special logics in order to filter data. The add-on’s mapping document captures geographic data in Sophora. Editors can import large data amount from an Excel file. Afterwards, the imported data is available in the table of Sophora’s mapping document. After importing data journalists can edit the table manually and adapt it to their personal needs. The web playout is based on Bing Maps.


  • Entry of geographic data in tabular form in a specialized mapping document.
  • Individual enhancement of Sophora’s mapping document by additional capacities.
  • Manual processing of data in Sophora’s geographic data table or revision of data through Excel import mechanism. Apart from the import of geographic data, it is possible to determine the columns’ configuration (name, data type).  
  • Structured passing on data by exporting the geographic data table in Excel (.xlsx) or CSV format. Selectable takeover of columns configuration while exporting.
  • Quick access to applications containing large data sets via a filter box above the geographic data table. Dealing with large data amounts is working for DDJM without any problems.
  • Editorial filtering of data sets in the web playout for any number of criteria. Configuration of filter criteria by the editorial department – without external help by (web-)developers or administrators.
  • Reuse of geographic data through a mechanism that combines a mapping document with a “geographic data library”. A geographic data library of German federal states is already existing and can be used in different applications. Note: The geographic data library is a Sophora document type.
  • The geographic information which is already included in the geographic data library can be stored in different resolutions. Thus, the matching resolution of geographic information, which depends on the map’s zoom level, is displayed.
  • Configuration of “pin sets” or surface settings can be made in order to control the graphical playout of geographic data on the map. The illustration can be made dependent on the respective data set.
  • Editors can change settings of pin sets or surfaces by themselves, because those belong to Sophora document types. Pins are displayed within a standard Sophora image document type. Therefore, editors have the freedom to visualize the spot containing geographic information in the playout with a free chosen graphic.
  • The web playout is based on Bing Maps. Prospectively, a selection among Bing Maps, Google Maps and OpenStreetMap will be possible.
  • Additional linking of single data with information, which is displayed by an information window in the playout. Also, editors can set links between data sets and Sophora documents.
  • Below the map an automatically created legend indicates the meaning of colors for pins and surfaces. Editors can change and determine meaning of colors in a comfortable way within the mapping document.
  • The mapping document is a Sophora document. The advantage is that changing the document is also possible via the interface of Sophora’s Importer. It is quite easy to create a map that uses an external system as a source of data. It will be updated periodically and automatically as well. The website of an authority, which provides a JSON or XML feed can be named as an example for an external system.


  • Name: Data Driven Journalism with Maps
  • Category: Data-driven Journalism, Open Data
  • Type: DeskClient plugin
  • Compatibility: >= Sophora 2.2
  • Organization: subshell
  • Third-party software required: Bing Maps
  • Geographic Data Table Documentation

Data-driven Journalism

Data-driven journalism, often shortened to "ddj", is a term in use since 2009, to describe a journalistic process based on analyzing and filtering large data sets for the purpose of creating a news story. Main drivers for this process are newly available resources such as open source software, open access publishing and open data. [...] Data-driven journalism has an even wider approach. At the core the process builds on the growing availability of open data that is freely available online and analyzed with open source tools. Data-driven journalism strives to reach new levels of service for the public, helping consumers, managers, politicians to understand patterns and make decisions based on the findings. As such, data driven journalism might help to put journalists into a role relevant for society in a new way. || Source: Wikipedia | Authors: List of Authors | License: CC BY-SA 3.0.