Cartographic Interaction Primitives: Framework and Synthesis
A cartographic interaction primitive is a basic unit of interactivity that is combined with other primitives in sequence when using interactive maps. The construction of a taxonomy of these basic interaction primitives is considered the ‘grand challenge of interaction’, as such taxonomies provide a consistent lexicon for describing map-based interaction strategies and interface designs, inform the design of scientific experiments to investigate the nature of cartographic interaction, and ultimately lead to design and use guidelines for interactive maps. The purpose of this research is not to offer a new framework of interaction primitives—as there are many in existence—but to organize and synthesize extant strategies for parsing interaction within Cartography and the related fields of Human‐Computer Interaction, Information Visualisation, and Visual Analytics into a logical framework. Norman’s stages of action model provides a useful foundation for conceptualizing interaction primitives, with organisation of extant taxonomies by the model resulting in three dominant approaches for parsing interaction: (1) an objective-based approach, compartmentalizing cartographic interaction according to the kinds of tasks the user may wish to complete with a cartographic interface; (2) an operator-based approach, compartmentalizing cartographic interaction according to the unique cartographic interfaces that make manipulation of a cartographic representation possible; and (3) an operand-based approach, compartmentalizing cartographic interaction according to characteristics of the digital/virtual object with which the user is interacting. Extant interaction primitive taxonomies representative of each of these three approaches are treated in turn, synthesizing key themes within each approach and identifying important concordances and discordances across the associated taxonomies.