Google Maps and Map Hacking

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Using Google Maps on individual web sites, called map hacking, is a fast and easy way to add geographic information to personal web sites. Listed here are resources to help you understand how to embed Google Maps in your own site.

Google Maps API – Sign Up
In order to embed Google Maps on your own web site, you will need to sign up for a free Maps API key.

Google’s My Maps
Google offers “My Maps”, a tool that lets anybody create Google Map Mashups embedded with YouTube videos, pictures or web pages. These mashups can then be shared with other users. PC World offers a “Getting Started with Google’s My Map” overview for those interested in exploring this new tool.

Google Maps Discussion Forum
Google’s discussion forum for all things relating to Google Maps.

Fun with Google Maps

GeoGreeting lets you send e-card style messages comprised of letter-shaped satellite images from Google Maps. The recipient of the geoGreeting sees a zoom-in animation that spells out the message by finding features on the surface of the earth (mostly buildings) that spell out letters. Click here to see a sample.

Drop Spots
If you like the idea of geocaching but don’t have a GPS unit, this is an alternative to treasure hunting. Similar to the idea of geocaching in which a treasure is hidden and coordinates are provided for clues, “dropspots” are also hidden locations but clues are provided via a Google Maps interface and a description of the treasure’s location. You can search for locations by address or ZIP code or use the simple interface to drop your location onto the map and add a description of where your dropspot is hidden.

Fun trip planning with Google Maps
Jim Huggins finds the hidden fun when planning his journey from Toronto to London, especially with Step #26.

Google Maps Resources

Google Launches Speech Friendly Google Maps
Announced through the Official Google Blog, Google Maps now offers a simple text interface that can be read by speech recognition programs or for quick text-based directions. Called Textual Maps UI is set up for users to type simple English queries with the starting and ending addresses of the trip.

Batch Geocode
Free service put together by Phillip Holmstrand using Yahoo’s new REST geocoding service. It lets you batch geocode addresses not just one at a time. Up to 50,000 per day per IP address.

Creating Your First Google Mashup
There are a lot of exciting and creative applications using Google’s mapping technology. If you are looking to develop your own Google mashup, has a step-by-step article that takes you through the process.

Cool new web 2.0 sites using Google Maps
Google Maps Mania, a blog site that tracks sites using Google Maps technology has a new list out of interesting web sites. Check out the list for neat sites such as OutdoorPhotoOp which is a communty based site for posting location based photography.

Google Maps Mania
Billed as “an unofficial Google Maps blog tracking the websites, mashups and tools being influenced by Google Maps”. This web site tracks trends and new developments in hacking Google Maps.

Hacking Maps with the Google Maps API
Article by Hari Gottipati from on embeding Google Maps. Included is a brief comparision between Yahoo’s and Google’s mapping APIs.

Integrating Google Maps into Your Web Applications
Article by Jason Gilmore on providing an introduction to using Google’s free API to embed Google Maps into web documents.

Using XML to Hack Google Maps
Step by step tutorial from on using XML to creating custom Google Maps applications.

Stylizing Google Maps

October 10, 2010: Google Maps API V3 allows for the customization of Google’s base maps.  Features such as parks, roads, and labels can be altered.  Justin O’Beirne posts examples of how Google Maps can be custom styled.   He provides twenty-five examples altering labels, working with the appearance of roads, and changing the back and foreground colors.  For many of his examples, O’Beirne provides suggested uses for each type of symbology.  My favorite examples are the muted maps, especially the sepia maps (exampled 21) and the grayscale maps (exampled 23).  Each example has a link to the JSON code for that map style.

At the end of the post O’Beirne provides some examples of what not to do, including abusing colors by creating ultra-bright red or blue maps or confusing the viewer with style choices (such as labeling roads but not including the linework).

Road simplification exampled from 41Latitude

Google’s Geo Developers Blog also has a post showing five examples of styled maps plus one honorable mention and a late add of the Team Coco Blimp Tracker.

For playing with different styles, Google offers the Google Maps API Styled Map Wizard.  Tips4PHP has a post on styling Google Maps with JSON.

(Via Google Maps Mania)

The Art of Goography
Alan Noble the Engineering Director for Google Australia and New Zealand has a writeup on Using Google to Teach Geography.  Noble introduces the reader to some basic examples of using Google Earth and Google Maps to create personalized maps and provides samples of Google Maps already out there.  (Via scruzin)

Google Maps Car Chase

For a little fun, watch this animated car chase short video which uses imagery pulled from Google Earth (the description of the video says Google Maps but clearly the opening zoom from the world down to the streets of Manhattan is pure Google Earth).  The video was created by Honest which is the directing team of Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion.  The video is a very short (just over one minute) excursion through the busy streets of New York with periodic car crashes and tread marks burned into the pavement.

Satellite Car Chase from Honest Directors on Vimeo.
Honest directed and animated this short using Google maps images.

It was originally made for Psst! Pass It on 3. check “Omar Hot Pursuit S.E.A.R.C.H” to see the surrounding videos.



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