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Tobler's Flow Mapper

Geographical movement is of crucial importance. This is because much change in the world is due to movement; the movement of people, ideas, money, or material. One way of depicting and analyzing geographical movement is by way of geographical maps. A convenient and rapid method of displaying movement data on such maps is therefore very useful. A flow mapping program is one approach to this objective. For in depth information see:

About Flow Mapper
In 2003 CSISS supported an effort to produce an interactive flow mapping program. The result is an updated Windows-based version of a program originally designed and programmed by Waldo Tobler in 1987. Tobler's original application was updated by David Jones using Microsoft Visual Basic .Net and SVG (Scaleable Vector Graphics) for map rendering. It requires as input locational coordinates and a table of interaction between places. Additional input may include place names for the location coordinates and a file of boundary coordinates (the background map). The user has several menu options for producing a map. The program allows for the production of a total movement map shown by volume-scaled bands, net movement given by scaled arrows, or simultaneous two-way moves.

Flow Mapper Functionality in ArcGIS Flow Data Model Tools consist of several ArcGIS 9.x VBA macros. The prototype software integrates the functionality of Flow Mapper into ArcGIS, and allows ArcGIS interaction with the Flow Data Model. Source code and further information.

Flow Mapper Requirements

  • Microsoft Windows 98SE, ME, 2000 or XP
  • Microsoft Dot.Net Framework Installed
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer (Required to display maps properly)
  • Scalable Vector Graphics Support for Internet Explorer: Adobe SVG Plugin 3.x or higher
  • C:\temp folder

Installing Flow Mapper

  1. Remove any existing version of Flow Mapper (Start > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs).
  2. Verify that your operating system meets the requirements above.
  3. Install the .Net Framework if necessary. Many newer Windows XP machines already come pre-installed with it. Go to Start > Control Panel, the .Net Framework Management Icon will be visible if it is installed (you may need to look in Administrative Tools.) If not visible you will need to Download and install the .Net Framework (21MB)
  4. If you you have not done so previously, install Adobe SVG Plugin. If you are unsure, install it again.
    Download and install Adobe SVG Viewer (2.4MB)
  5. Make sure C:\Temp (c:\temp) exists, the application uses this directory to write temporary files.
  6. Download and install Flow Mapper (22MB), unzip the files o temporary directory and run setup.exe. Flow mapper will be installed and a shortcut will be placed in the Start Menu under Flow Mapper and on your desktop. The documentation, and Data_Sets will be automatically installed and links placed in the Flow Mapper folder.
  7. After installing Flow Mapper, Download the Documents and Data update (8.5MB, 7-19-05) and unzip it to your installation folder (the default folder is C:\Program Files\Tobler\Flow Mapper).


Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Example 4

Example 5

Example 6

Example 7

Example 8

Example 9

User Contributions

Boundary Files from GeoDa to FlowMapper PDF

Please send questions and comments to Waldo Tobler

Tools Clearinghouse: Kevin Konty
Search Engines: Eric White
This page updated December 12, 2001