Building an Animated 3D Globe With Blueshift

This guide with walk you through the process of creating a 3D globe showing foreign trade flows as animated dots.

The world trade data is available on UN Comtrade. Click here to download as a CSV file.

Upload and Geolocate

Begin by uploading the world trade data by pressing the New Dataset button.

Once the data is uploaded, you will be redirected to a page displaying it as a table. The dataset contains two columns containing country names. The first step is to geolocate them, which will allow the data to be visualized in a map. The process is shown in the video below.


Press the orange button Geolocate button to bring up the geolocation screen. Select “Countries” for the geography type. And select “origincountry” as the column containing country names. Then press Geolocate.

Once the searching is complete, all of the origincountry columns should appear orange, which means the geolocation was successful. Had it not been able to find any of the locations they would appear at the top of the list, colored red.

Next. Repeat the process for the “destinationcountry” column. You should then see both columns appearing with orange boxes, representing the geographic data associated with each country name.

The data is now ready to be visualized. Go to the Map Builder page, which is linked in the navigation bar at the top.

Load the data into the map builder tool and use it to style the map

Once you’ve brought up the map builder page, press the Add Layer button. In the Dataset box, you should see two items. One is the international trade data you just uploaded. The other one, labelled “World,” was added by default when you registered. It will serve as the backdrop, showing international borders.


Add this data by selecting “World” as the dataset, “Country” as the location data, and “Polygon” as the layer type. You should then see the world borders appear. Next, add the foreign trade data as a layer. Select “international-trade” as the dataset, “origincountry” as the location data, and “Point” as the later type. Each row in the data you uploaded is now represented by a single dot on the map.

The controller in the upper left corner allow you to style various properties of each of the two layers. In this case, we are going to start with the point layer.

Follow the video below to set the color of each dot according to category of item. Then set their size according to the total dollar amount traded. Next, use the position property to animate the dots flowing from country of origin (exporter) to destination country (importer).

All that remains is to set the colors of the countries, the background color, and to show the world as a globe, rather than as a flat plane. The video below shows these steps.

Once you’re finished styling the map, press the Publish button at the top to generate a shareable link.