Free mapping tools to upgrade your Shorthand story

Sometimes you need to put your Shorthand story in its place. 

Whether you want to pinpoint the location of a particular event, demonstrate a journey, or show how a place has changed over time, maps are an effective tool to have in your visual storytelling kit. 

Here are three free tools you can use to embed maps into a Shorthand Pro or Shorthand Social story. And just like with Shorthand, there's no coding required.

Tableau Public

Tableau Public is a great tool for all sorts of visualisations, including mapping data.

Import your data into Tableau via Excel, Microsoft Access or a CSV file and the software automatically assigns geographic roles to fields with common geographical names, such as country, state or city.

Tableau is not currently responsive at the moment, but there are a couple of options to improve the way your map looks on mobile. 

Either build two dashboards at different sizes and then add some custom CSS to your page to swap out which dashboard shows, depending on the screen size of the viewer. Here's a tutorial that shows how to do this

Alternatively, you can do make two dashboards in Tableau and create a button in the top left corner of the larger dashboard that says 'switch to mobile version'. Clicking the button will take users to the smaller dashboard.


MapJam is a quick and easy web app for customising a map with place markers to show venues at a city-wide music festival in Austin, for example, or where to find the best coffee shops and parking spots in San Francisco.

Pro tip: Use Shorthand's reveal effect to create the illusion of animation and add layers to an existing map.


Use StoryMapJS, a Knight Lab tool, to tell a story using an interactive map with images and video, such as the one below.

Do you have any other favourite mapping tools? 
Tweet your suggestions to @Shorthand_

Both Shorthand Social, and our more customisable, self-hosted solution Shorthand Pro, let you easily embed responsive HTML. 

See more on Shorthand Pro here.