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Google Businesses The Internet

Mapping Google Maps 442

Posted by timothy
from the topography dept.
jgwebber writes "Google Maps is starting to cause a bit of a stir as Google makes the browser do still more backflips than most expected. In the tradition of dissecting Google Suggest and GMail, I've done a little dissecting of this newest service."
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Mapping Google Maps

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  • by garcia (6573) * on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:13PM (#11621070) Homepage
    What I would like to see them add is something like what GPSVisualizer [gpsvisualizer.com] does. It will allow you to upload a GPX or LOC file of waypoints (from your GPS or various other programs) and plot them on a map. Because GPSVisualizer requires the SVG plugin (or native support) it would be nice to have an advanced application like Google has that doesn't require such support yet is as smooth/speedy as Google Maps is.

    It would be awesome if Google could completely take over the commercial mapping software application market (ie Streets and Trips/Mappoint and Street Atlas) by enabling routing/directions between the points on the map. Hell, allow us to then download the planned route back to the GPSs via a GPX and that would really rock. I mean web-based applications such as maps.google.com and maps.yahoo.com have already taken over from older programs like Automap which just gave text directions and simple maps. Why can't they add even more features? I don't know anyone that asks for directions anymore. Everyone just uses the web-based software.

    For now I'm just happy being impressed by the pretty scrolling. I'm excited to see what comes of this after the finish up the Beta.
    • by Moby Cock (771358) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:19PM (#11621126) Homepage
      Remember that Google purchased Keyhole a while back. They are a satellite imaging firm. I wonder (or hope) that somehow this technology could be merged with the excellent Google maps. Imagine a "See Photo" button once you have found the location of whatever it was you were looking for. Now that would be cool.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:20PM (#11621143)
      Have you tried usaphotomaps from JDMCOX [jdmcox.com]?

      USAPhotoMaps downloads aerial photo and topo map data from Microsoft's free TerraServer Web site, saves it on your hard drive, and creates seamless maps from it. You can:
      1. See the latitude/longitude
      2. Add waypoints, routes, and text
      3. Jump to any waypoint or latitude/longitude in the U.S.A.
      4. Transfer waypoints, tracks, and routes to and from most GPS receivers
      5. See your GPS location
      6. Scroll and zoom

      And it's free.
    • It would be awesome if Google could completely take over the commercial mapping software application market (ie Streets and Trips/Mappoint and Street Atlas) by enabling routing/directions between the points on the map. Hell, allow us to then download the planned route back to the GPSs via a GPX and that would really rock.

      While I've fiddled with it and found the interface to have it's up-sides and down-sides (not really very big considering it's a web app.) I think you're looking for functionality at a wh

    • Kinda like what Endless Pursuit [endlesspursuit.com] has done? You upload you waypoints/tracks, it overlays them on a topo you view from your browser. Dont think it needs any plugins, as the overlay is done by the server and is output as a normal image.

      I once had an idea of doing this, and might eventually get around to finishing it. I just dont have the map library to do the overlay. All I could do is draw the tracks. Image librarys (like gd) make drawing the tracks easy, and overlaying just as simple. Getting a library of

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @04:11PM (#11621774)
      For now I'm just happy being impressed by the pretty scrolling

      I scrolled right for a long time but Europe never came into view.
    • In addition to that, (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jdgreen7 (524066) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @04:13PM (#11621801) Homepage
      Imagine if they started using this for real estate searches, too. Just link all the local back-end MLS listings to whichever region you're searching in and end up with an MLS service that's better than what most realtors pay for. By partnering with some of the larger realty companies (Century 21, Remax, etc.), they could probably take over a good chunk of the industry in a matter of a few years and make it much easier for individuals to shop for houses without the assistance of a realtor...

    • t would be awesome if Google could completely take over the commercial mapping software application market

      So what you are saying is that you want Google to have a monopoly?

      Well since it's Google - they can be fully trusted - lets give it to them.............
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I find this interesting because Google's response, if you load maps.google.com in safari, isn't "we don't care about your platform, bugger off", it's a short, apologetic note saying that they don't work in Safari yet but you can try one of these other browsers. This seems to indicate the problem isn't with Google's javascript, it's with Safari, Google's javascript is more than Safari can handle.

    Hell if I were a browser company I'd pay Google a small consulting fee just to find bugs in my browser. You know,
  • by aaron240 (618080) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:16PM (#11621097) Homepage
    Google is bravely doing fantastic thing with client-side programming...something many websites have given up on because of cross-browser incompatibility. My money is definitely on Google being very aggressive with Mozilla/XUL based on this work. That's going to be good times!
    • I'm hoping they decide to ship it. There are several very inventive features. And solves some of the issues mentioned in this thread.
    • by bcmm (768152) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:35PM (#11621352)
      Have you seen this [google.com]
    • by ad0gg (594412) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @04:06PM (#11621719)
      You forgot to thank Microsoft for going outside of the standards and implementing XMLHttpRequest in IE5.0. Got so popular everyone started copying it. You see how gmail and google maps can change the content page without loading up a new page? Thats XMLHttpRequest, non standardized browser object.
  • backflips? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quasar1999 (520073) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:17PM (#11621104) Journal
    Either the browser supports it, or doesn't... stop personifying software... it does what it designed to do. Just because other pages out there don't use certain features doesn't mean the browser is doing some amazing task by supporting features.
    • by Shadow Wrought (586631) <shadow.wroughtNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:33PM (#11621311) Homepage Journal
      ...stop personifying software...

      I agree, software hates being personified.

    • Re:backflips? (Score:5, Informative)

      by TedTschopp (244839) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:34PM (#11621339) Homepage
      Trust me, getting PNG transparancy / Alpha Channel support in IE is a backflip.
      • It has been well-documented and well-known for ages how to do PNG alpha channels in IE. The stereotypical slashdot whine is about it not being done automatically with just the standard tag (not a huge complaint for the ambitious, the extra piece of code needed to make IE work with it does not interfere with other browsers that worked already).
        • Re:backflips? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hey! (33014)
          Well, sure, but that's just one point among many.

          You put everything together, and creating a consistent cross browser experience with something that plays so many tricks with the browser is like jumping into a pool full of crap, swimming a lap, and coming out smelling like a rose.

          Looked at one way, the application's features are rudimentary. Looked at another, the means used are pretty extraordinary.
    • by JPelorat (5320) *
      A metaphor for accomplishing a difficult or complex task that the object or system generally wasn't thought of as capable of doing.

      Settle down, Beavis.
    • wow, someone's being a little bit crabby today, huh?

      What's the matter? Feeling left out of the fun?

      By the way, complaining that people are being clever really just implies that you happen to lack that quality.
    • Only some browsers do. It won't work in konqueror. So it's sort of impressive that they've persuaded IE and gecko to behave in the same way when it's a non-standard thing they're doing.
  • Combination (Score:2, Interesting)

    by augustz (18082)
    Google:

    - Nice company
    - Cool services
    - Sweet interfaces

    That is a rocking combination.

    The fact that they seem to be making stuff available under Firefox as well is also great.

    • While I'll give you the last two, I do have to question the term "nice company". The "niceness" of a corporation depends upon your point of view.

  • Whoa! (Score:5, Funny)

    by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:20PM (#11621147) Homepage
    Find: insufferable whiners in Washington, DC

    Not bad, Google!

  • From the article:

    Each tile URL is of the following form:
    http://mt.google.com/mt?v=.1&x={x tile index}&{y tile index}=2&zoom={zoom level}
    I'm not sure what the 'v' argument specifies, but it never seems to change.


    Maybe "v" is the version number, which is why it never changes. Version .1 makes sense for a beta.
  • by Saxton (34078) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:22PM (#11621177) Homepage
    All you people complaining about Safari compatibility... For some reason I can't get my maps to scroll after they've been printed. I've tried using Epson and Canon printers. If anyone can help let me know.
  • by prakslash (681585)

    For some reason, if one enters an address in Google Search to find a location on a map, the resulting search results still point to MapQuest and Yahoo!Maps. (See example) [google.com]

    They need to update that.

  • Too bad the graphics don't appear on that page when using Firefox. I checked the code and the page uses ' rather than " when coded for the image src. For example:

    <img src='http://innuvo.com/users/joel/map.gif'>

    Maybe that's the way XHTML is supposed to be but since I'm not one who does web design for a living I don't know.
  • by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info@@@devinmoore...com> on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:26PM (#11621223) Homepage Journal
    I'd like to see a MMORPG ported for this, like a web-enabled version of ultima 1 that shows where everyone's looking, and we can all interact. How awesome would that be? Totally.
  • ... when it figures out where I live. Mapquest knows. map24 knows. Google doesn't... and so it doesn't (yet) pass the simplest smell test for my nose.

    I look forward to it getting better.
    • Well, where do you live? I plugged my address in, and not only did it find where I live, but that also that my street doesn't go all the way through (there's a some road, a big bunch of trees that you have to go through two intersections for.) I also really dig the little balloon thing that comes up when you click on a particular direction (turn right onto 5th St or whatever). I'm definately going to start using Google Maps over Mapquest.
  • Do a phone number or address search from the main page, and Google suggests you can look at Yahoo! Maps, and MapQuest for directions, but not their own service.
  • Endless pursuit (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tmack (593755) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:28PM (#11621256) Homepage Journal
    Kinda like what Endless Pursuit [endlesspursuit.com] has done? You upload you waypoints/tracks, it overlays them on a topo you view from your browser. Dont think it needs any plugins, as the overlay is done by the server and is output as a normal image.

    I once had an idea of doing this, and might eventually get around to finishing it. I just dont have the map library to do the overlay. All I could do is draw the tracks. Image librarys (like gd) make drawing the tracks easy, and overlaying just as simple. Getting a library of map images that would allow you to use it for this sort of thing would be the hard part.

    tm

  • by Anonymous Cowdog (154277) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:29PM (#11621268) Journal
    Google is hitting a lot of the obvious sweetspots for improving the user experience. Some of them are obvious only in retrospect. But we know their competitors have smart people, and they do UI research, and they have resources. Why does Google come out with innovation after innovation?

    I have three answers. I wonder which ones are valid:

    1. Laziness
    2. Encumberance with legacy political and business issues (is feature x threatening to partner Fooinc, how can we hang ads on this, etc.)
    3. Focus on fancy-pants analysis of numbers (data mining to try to optimise, rather than revolutionize), leading them to be blind to simple measures like using Javascript and caching lots of content in the client.

    What other reasons are there?

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:34PM (#11621324) Homepage
    It's not quite AI, yet Google comes closer to realizing the fantasy of Isaac Asimov's Multivac than anything else I've experienced before. It's very weird: the impression that Google gives is that it does NOT understand your question, yet it DOES manage to find the answers you want.

    It's not quite user-interface, in the sense of elegant widgets or consistency or any of that stuff. Google's traditional search features could almost run on Lynx on a green screen. Maybe they can. Google Maps is visually spiffy by comparison to Mapquest, but it's nothing we haven't seen in standalone programs years ago.

    It isn't really "search." Or at least, if it is, with every new thing they roll out, Google does an amazing job of expanding my notion of what "search" means. What does it mean to "search" on "250 pounds in kilograms?"

    Something that Google seems to share with Apple is some sort of courtesy or kindness or service orientation to the end-user. It just works. And unlike Microsoft or Apple, Google's services seem to come with fewer strings attached.

    One of the things that delights me about Google is a certain kind of freshness I haven't seen elsewhere as often as I'd like. They have the characteristic you used to see in innovative software that when you describe the latest Google feature, it doesn't sound all that new, yet when you use it you get that feeling that something unexpected has been revealed.
  • by RCulpepper (99864) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:34PM (#11621333)
    I see some features that will tie in well with this. It already makes Local Search a lot more handy. I could see Google using aggregated GSM phone locator signals to forecast traffic patterns and then, after asking you when you intend to start and end your trip (so it can route you around traffic), estimating when you'll want to eat lunch, etc, so that bricks-and-mortar restaurants, gas stations on the selected route can pay for advertising - it's one segment of the economy Google has not yet touched.
  • Google's maps has a very slick interface. I like it. ONLY the name of the street I live on is WRONG in the map. My street is Lincoln, and its says Dodge Road. I know that I'm not looking at the wrong location, my location is easily identifiable and the other streets nearbye are correctly named, and when I do a search for my address it goes directly to Dodge Street. (maybe Google knows something I don't?)
  • by joestump98 (320730) <joe&earth,care2,com> on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:37PM (#11621372) Homepage
    It doesn't support iframes and (as the article clearly states) iframes are a big part of how this application works.
  • I took Google Maps up on its offer to take a tour [google.com]. I found that their example, "Manhattan to Brooklyn" in the "single search box" (or even in their "Get directions:" form field) instead gives me a map of Brooklyn with (a few) businesses there with "Manhattan" in their name. I know it's a beta, but doesn't anyone test these demos before announcing them? The "tour" guide has buried a very interesting app under bad demo instructions.
  • I would like to see a real-time live traffic map with maps.google.com like Yahoo!'s Maps.
  • by xutopia (469129) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:44PM (#11621445) Homepage
    The ECMAScript (Javascript) code used for this is pretty standard except for a few else{} to acomodate Internet Explorer (unfortunately you cannot do without). I realize people want things to work in their favorite browser but shouldn't they check that their favorite browser follows standards before blaming Google?
  • by brandonp (126) * <brandon...petersen@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:45PM (#11621464) Homepage
    Of course, will this bother some people who are fanatical about Privacy issues?

    John Smith in New York City, NY [google.com]

    Depending on how the results are categorized and obtained, this seems like it could be a hot issue.

    Brandon Petersen
  • by Anonymous Custard (587661) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @03:58PM (#11621623) Homepage Journal
    From TFA [blogspot.com]:

    Probably the most striking thing about Google Maps is the very impressive (for DHTML, anyway) graphics. Now, I'm sure that many of you old JavaScript hacks out there have known this sort of thing was possible for a long time, but it's very cool to see it (a) actually being used for something real, and (b) where normal users will see it.

    Back in the Summer of 2000 iWon.com [iwon.com] released the Prize Machine [iwon.com].

    They didn't want people to need a plugin to use it, so they wrote it in JavaScript.

    It's a slot machine with moving prize images. You click the arm and it pulls down and starts spinning. It talks to the server to see if your spin won a prize or not, and spins the wheels accordingly.

    Nifty little app, actually.
    • Although this doesn't talk to a server while it's running, it's still the most impressive DHTML app I've ever seen: DHTML Lemmings [snesorama.net].

      Really opened my eyes to the possibilities of what JavaScript/DOM can do. Glad to see Google, iWon, and other sites finally starting to make use of it.

  • Google uses XUL (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fulldecent (598482) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @04:03PM (#11621675) Homepage

    Here's the big secret:

    Google uses XUL to develop all their rich websites. For example: Gmail, Maps, Groups and others on the way. This natively XUL interface is then converted to HTML/CSS/JavaScript that we can see and run. This conversion is done by a program Google wrote a while ago and the conversion is very simple. Of course, it's not perfect and needs to be loked over by hand. This is how Gmail is compatible now with all the other browsers.

    In the future, when they decide it is time, they will publish their XUL interfaces side-by-side with their current interfaces. I'm not trying to give any hints, but this is related to a large push that Google is going to make to support XUL technology and will happen by the end of this year or early 2006.

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