Panorama visualization toolkit (START HERE)
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Panorama toolkit

Suite of visualization-centric components originally developed for American Panorama, from the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond.

View Examples

The toolkit is designed for use in the creation of historical maps such as those in the American Panorama Atlas. The components within can be installed via npm and integrated into any web-facing project. Panorama also includes a template that can be used as a starting point for projects that aim to use Panorama components. All of the components within that are "views" (meaning they appear in the DOM) are React components.

For a higher-level overview of the architecture of the American Panorama atlas, see: ARCHITECTURE

For various server-side database queries that are outside the scope of the toolkit, but which are useful for preparing data for your visualizations, see: USEFUL QUERIES

Installing components in your project

You might consider starting with the Panorama template. Whether or not you do, please follow these instructions to bring the Panorama components into your project.

Install the correct version of Node.js

Ensure that your Node version matches that present in .nvmrc. nvm is the easiest way to do this, especially when using projects that require multiple versions of Node (see the nvm repo for installation instructions):

$ nvm install
Found '/Users/foo/src/stamen/panorama-template/.nvmrc' with version <0.12.7>
######################################################################## 100.0%
Now using node v5.9.1 (npm v3.7.3)

NOTE: you'll need to run nvm install (or nvm use) in each shell instance.

Ensure your npm version is > 3.0 (v2.7+ required for support of npm scoped packages, v3.0+ recommended for dependency resolution):

npm --version

If <= 2.7.0, update npm:

sudo npm install npm -g

Install the toolkit

Then, install the toolkit:

npm install @stamen/panorama


The Panorama toolkit comprises a number of components that can be used individually, or wired together with the Panorama Template as a starting point. Below is a list of the components available in the toolkit. Component examples are available here.






















Developing components

Developing new components and modifying existing components requires intermediate knowledge of JavaScript and React, as well as basic familiarity with npm. To get started, clone this repo, cd into the root directory, and install all necessary modules via npm install.

All components live in folders that match the name of their npm package; examples of components are in the _examples/components/ folder. Note that Panorama components are written in ES6 and use Babel to transpile to ES5 JavaScript. Luke Hoban offers clear examples of features new in ES6, and Mozilla Developer Network provides a solid reference.

1. Add the component

To create a new component, add a folder with the name of the component, e.g. mycomponent/. Within, create the following file/folder structure:

  • ./es6/: The folder that holds your component's ES6 source files (.js/.jsx); will be transpiled to ES5 in the build step
  • ./es6/index.js(x) The entry point for your component (Note: if your component is not a view component, it does not need to use React; just create a vanilla JavaScript (.js) file. See HashManager.js for an example.)
  • ./_style.scss: Any required styles for the component (optional)
  • ./package.json: The component will be published to npm on its own, and therefore needs a (minimal) package.json. Use the package.json of another existing component as a starting point, but be sure to drop the version to 0.1.0 before publishing, and update your dependencies.
  • See "#2. Add an example and documentation"

When you are ready to test your component, expose its module to the toolkit bundler by adding it to ./index.js. Follow the export pattern used by other components in index.js.

A note on component design:

As a general rule, React components should be stateless, and should derive their state from this.props. This article describes the pattern in more detail. Be sure to specify a static propTypes block at the top of the class that both documents and enforces the public API of your component. As much as possible, avoid using state (either React's this.state or property instances, e.g. this.someVar). This ensures maximum flexibility and reusability of your component, and minimizes state-related bugs; state will always flow into the component from the component's parent (usually the root App.jsx file).

Try to avoid adding any but the most basic styles to your component's _style.scss file. Consumers of your component should be able to customize appearance as desired, so avoid being overly-specific with your CSS rules, and add classes to any elements that might be styled by an end user so that they can be selected in CSS.

2. Add an example and documentation

Add an example for your component to _examples/. Create a React component in _examples/components/ that will load and display your new component. Pass any required and optional props into your new component from this file. Then, import your example component into _examples/app.js.

Add documentation for your component as a within your component's folder (./mycomponent/).

3. Build

To test your component on the examples page, fire up a local development server by running npm start from the root directory. The server runs on http://localhost:8888/; open a browser to that page to see the examples page.

4. Export

There are a few ways to make your component available to other projects, listed below.

Note that each component is packaged and published in two places: one, on its own (e.g. @stamen/areachart) and as part of the toolkit bundle (@stamen/panorama). You can import either individual comopnents (e.g. import AreaChart from '@stamen/areachart') or the entire toolkit (e.g. import { AreaChart } from '@stamen/panorama') into your project, whichever you prefer.

Note also that regardless of how you export, component styles (./_styles.scss in each component folder) must be manually @imported into your project. See panorama-template for an example.

A. npm link

This is the best option for developing a component locally alongside a project that uses it. Link one local project directly to another via npm link. The procedure is explained here; basically this involves setting up a system-wide pointer to your local install of @stamen/panorama (or of a component within) and then symlinking to that install from your application using the toolkit.

If your downstream project is written in ES6, you can import your component by pointing directly at the ES6 entry point and bypass package.json:

import MyComponent from '@stamen/panorama/mycomponent/es6/index'

One tricky part about npm link: it also symlinks dependencies from the node_modules folder within your linked project, and this can cause conflicts between / multiple copies of dependencies in the toolkit and in your application. Therefore, you'll want to be sure to remove installed dependencies from your linked project (@stamen/panorama or an indivdual component) before building your downstream project. A sure sign of duplicated dependencies in our little React world is the dreaded Invariant violation ... you have multiple copies of React loaded error. If you build your downstream project with sourcemaps enabled, you can look through the source in the browser's debug tools to determine from where the additional copy is being loaded.

B. Push builds to GitHub

You can point a project's package.json to a GitHub repository in order to pull down and use the HEAD of that repo as the dependency. To do this with the Panorama toolkit, you would add this to the package.json of your project (not to the toolkit itself!):

"dependencies": {
    "@stamen/panorama": "stamen/panorama",

To point directly at an individual component:

"dependencies": {
    "@stamen/areachart": "stamen/panorama/areachart",
C. Publish to npm

Once you're satisfied with the state of your new component, and you have a working example in place, it's time to make it available to the npm-using public! The toolkit has scripts (run from the root directory) set up to ease this process. Here's a quick overview of the process automated by those scripts.

npm run publish-module <foldername>

Be certain you know what you're doing and are sure the component is in working order before you run this script! Publishing broken code can break other people's projects if they run npm install, and then you will get angry emails from unhappy people 😢😡

*Before running this script, you'll have to be logged into npm with an account marked as a 'collaborator' on the package you're publishing. Contact a @stamen/panorama administrator to set this up. Login via npm login.

This script will automatically bump the toolkit version and publish the repo in its current state to npm. It runs _build-config/, which does these things:

  • build the component (transpile ./es6/ into ./es5/)
  • patch the component version (M.m.p -> M.m.(p+1))
  • commit and push those changes to GitHub
  • publish to npm

The script is fairly robust, but if you see any errors, you may need to run these steps manually. They're all visible in the script.

Note: at the time of this writing, the component build script bumps the component version in its own package.json, but you need to manually bump the version in the toolkit's dependencies in order for the toolkit to pick up those changes.

npm run publish-modules

The same warnings apply here as in npm run publish-module <foldername> above. Be careful and avoid 😢😡

This script will automatically bump the toolkit version and publish the repo in its current state to npm. It runs _build-config/publish-modules/.sh, which does these things:

  • build all of the components (transpile ./es6/ into ./es5/)
  • patch the toolkit version (M.m.p -> M.m.(p+1))
  • commit and push those changes to GitHub
  • publish to npm

The script is fairly robust, but if you see any errors, you may need to run these steps manually. They're all visible in the script.

npm run publish:examples

This script updates the examples page. It runs _build-config/, which simply builds and deploys the examples. There's not much to it, and it's much less risky than npm run publish-modules.

Note: at the time of this writing, the components are built with Gulp, but the examples are built with Webpack. Sorry! I couldn't easily get Webpack to iterate over each component folder, but the examples Webpack build was already in place from the previous iteration of @panorama/toolkit.


American Panorama is created by the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond. Stamen Design designed and developed the initial maps and this toolkit. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the University of Richmond have generously provided funding for American Panorama.