03
Jul
09

The Town Spreadsheet

The Town of Blooming Grove, Wisconsin. A magical, pixellated land full of jagged lakes and rambling, rustic acres:

Setting aside for a moment the fact that the map has about as much detail as a Pac-Man level, I want to point out that this map is actually provided by the town as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. I am not kidding.

Look, the town population is only about 1700. That’s smaller than a lot of high schools. I can understand that they don’t have a trained cartographer on staff, and when someone decided to make a map, they were not going to be using the latest and most advanced tools that professional cartographers use. But if you want to make a map with giant pixels, try MS Paint (or your preferred equivalent). It is, in fact, significantly harder to make a blocky pixel map in Excel. It’s a spreadsheet program. It’s designed to crunch numbers and show you if the town can afford this year’s hayride. It takes some doing to get pictures out of it.

I have no idea what “Freeway Manor” is, but it sounds like it’s peaceful and has a great view. Is it a subdevelopment? A neighborhood? Not really clear on that. A legend of some sort might be handy, but all we get is “Anything in Green is the Town of Blooming Grove.” Anything. Any lush, verdant paradise you encounter? That’s Blooming Grove.

I think I’ll just stop right there, and leave the rest of the criticism and commentary to you, gentle reader.

One Nice Thing: Making a map in Excel is certainly an interesting challenge, and this person has managed to construct what is indeed, arguably, a map. For a first attempt, not bad. At, least I hope it’s his/her first attempt at maps ever. And that he or she hasn’t ever seen a map before. Please, please let that be true.

Thanks to my boss, Tanya, for pointing this one out to me.

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8 Responses to “The Town Spreadsheet”


  1. 5th July, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Powerpoint wouldn’t have surprised me, but Excel is… really something. You have to admire their originality of thought. How many people when asked for a one word response to a prompt of ‘Map’ would come up with ‘Excel’? Would their response to ‘Neuroimaging’ be ‘Corkscrew’?

  2. 3 Mapgeek
    3rd August, 2009 at 8:00 am

    I actually find this map intriguing since they used Excel to the best of their ability to produce a passable map. In college I made a 3D map of southwest Michigan counties by filling in spreadsheet cells in the shape of the counties (which were thankfully very square-ish in nature). Each cell repeated the counties’ population value which I then displayed as a 3D chart. My cartography professor was pretty thrilled actually. However, this was 1990 and things have progressed a bit since then! ;-)

    Cheers,
    -Mapgeek

  3. 4 Derek
    2nd October, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    All I can say is “wow”. Now that takes a lot of dedication. Have they not heard of Google Maps? But I do like how the spreadsheet (I mean official town map) can be opened by anyone and edited. Ever wish Lake Monona was a bit bigger? Simply expand row 29 and you now have twice as much water to cool off in on those hot summer days. Sweet.

  4. 5 Lurker
    11th February, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Did you notice the second sheet has the ZONING map on it?


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