About Flex Projector

The Robinson projection inspired the development of Flex Projector.

From the Wikipedia article about Arthur H. Robinson:

In 1961, the Rand McNally Company asked Robinson to choose a projection for use as a world map that, among other criteria, was uninterrupted, had limited distortion, and was pleasing to the eye of general viewers. (Robinson, 1974, pp. 147-148). Robinson could not find a projection that satisfied the criteria, so Rand McNally commissioned him to design one.

Robinson proceeded through an iterative process to create a pseudo-cylindrical projection that intends to strike a compromise between distortions in areas and in distances, in order to attain a more natural visualization. The projection has been widely used since its introduction. In 1988, National Geographic adopted it for their world maps but replaced it in 1998 with the Winkel Tripel projection.

Flex Projector would have greatly simplified Robinson's work. It allows users to fine-tune the shape of a projection by adjusting the length of parallels and their distance from the equator. Flex Projector extends Robinson's idea with the option to selectively curve parallels. For example, users can create arced lines of latitude similar to those found in the Winkel Tripel projection.

The goal of Flex Projector is to democratize the creation of world map projections—mathematical expertise is no longer a requirement. It is the hope of the authors that Flex Projector will encourage users to develop innovative and useful new map projections, as Arthur Robinson did one half century ago. For the first time ever, a user-friendly tool is available to do this.

Flex Projector—Interactive Software for Designing World Map Projections (PDF, 2 MB)

Read this article to learn more about Flex Projector: Its purpose, how it works, and what can be done with it. Published in Cartographic Perspectives (No. 59, 2008), the journal of the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS).

Robinson, A. (1974). A New Map Projection: Its Development and Characteristics. International Yearbook of Cartography, p. 145-155.

Jenny, B., Patterson, T. and Hurni L. (2008). Flex Projector—Interactive software for designing world map projections. Cartographic Perspectives, 59, p. 12-27 and 68. PDF.

Jenny, B., Patterson, T. and Hurni, L. (2010). Graphical design of world map projections. International Journal of Geographic Information Science, 24-11, p. 1687–1702. PDF.