All posts by John as AP employee

Sketch: Multi-Column Layout Algorithm

This iPad app is the proof-of-concept for an algorithm I designed to present large numbers of items in a compact layout. The concept uses a variable, multi-column format to give readers a feeling of variety on long pages.

The layout code was designed to find an optimal article layout—defined generally as the column configuration that contains the least dead space—using multiple column formats. In this test app, dead space is marked with diagonal lines; in a final app, the article heights would adjust to fill the column.

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Sketch: iPad Photo Map

I pursued this internal AP project in order to learn iOS development. The project experimented with end-to-end technology: A server-side OS X application accessing the AP photo feed and delivering it to an iOS client app with a custom map component.

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Timeline Layout Algorithm

"Flowing" timeline of the decade's events.

I decided to algorithmically lay out the elements in the AP interactive, 2000-2009: Decade in Review, because of the large amount of content—over 400 events—and very limited amount of time I had to complete the layout.

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2000-2009: Decade in Review

This interactive takes 400+ events—chosen by AP editors—from the past 10 years and presents them on a continuous timeline.

Editors assigned a category-specific “priority” to each item, which is reflected by each item’s size in the timeline. Each item is clickable, bringing up an event description, full image, and photo caption.

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Winter Olympic Medals

For the AP, I developed this section of a historical overview of the medals won at Winter Olympic Games. The chart components are placed dynamically after the data loads.

A force-directed graph was used to avoid overlapping boxes. Instead of a bounding circle around each node in the graph, I used a bounding box and computed overlap distance between pairs of boxes when relaxing the layout. This yielded a much more efficient “packing” of the items.

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Live Global Storm Tracker

The development of the new AP storm tracking interactive and its underlying map engine involved coordination with the primary data provider and research into competing storm tracking products.

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AP Economic Stress Index

This interactive maps several economic indicators (Unemployment, Foreclosure, Bankruptcy) into a composite index score on both state and county levels. The project was a collaboration across several AP bureaus.

Polygon detail reduction tools developed for the project enable the map engine to animate monthly indicator data at the county level.

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2008 Election Graphics Software

The final version of the 6-column graphic

I was the architect and implementor of the entire software system responsible for generating and delivering the AP election maps graphics for print newspapers.

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Sketch: Artery Graphs

Map 2

These images are early tests for an algorithm that graph flow and movement across geography. It was prompted by a story the AP was writing on the displacement of Iraqis during the Iraq war. The technique is an algorithmic variation on flowlines.

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GIS Tools

For the AP print and online coverage of data sets tied to US geography, I wrote several tools for working with GIS data. These tools were used to create maps for election and economy coverage.

Unemployment interactive created by the AP DC bureau.

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AP Graphics Workflow and Automation Server

Stagedoor is the AP Graphics workflow and automation server software.

Watch folder configuration is done by drag-and-drop.

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Geolocation Database

I’ve developed several database tools at the AP. In this project, I built a tool to aid reporters in geolocating the hometowns of US military personal killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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2006 Election Graphics Software

I developed software to generate results maps for the 2006 general election. This application was based on work I developed as a consultant in 2004.

The data source for the graphics came from AP election data feeds. Results were captured and loaded into a SQL database where they were retreived and processed by my software.

My software then read in pre-designed page templates and colored the map regions based on the results. The final files were exported in a vector graphics format for AP Graphics staff to finalize page layout and copy editing.

This project’s template-based workflow is based on my SuperGraphics framework. This software allows SVG templates to be read into a DOM, modified, and output in a number of formats. SuperGraphics has advanced text handling features such as font and glyph metrics and word wrap with hyphenation.