Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Using Maps on the Web 1: Maps with added Web.

Patterns: Reading this useful advice from Mano Marks and Chris Peters for NGOs thinking of using GeoWeb tools set me thinking. I've long been a fan of the O'Reilly book 'Designing Interfaces' by Tidwell. One concept it uses well is 'patterns', e.g. a list view with expandable items is a pattern and is how folders in windows explorer and email programs work; they both share the same pattern. With Google making it easier to embed GEarth, GEarth tours and GMaps in a web page I thought it worth exploring 3 Geo related patterns:
  1. Map with added Web
  2. Web with added Map
  3. Virtual Globe
I adopt the basic structure she uses in discussing the patterns. Today, I'll tackle the first of these with the other two in later posts.

Maps with Added Web

Screenshot of Pop up balloon of Crisis in Darfur project from USHMM.

Content that is mostly in a map form but which accesses web page material such as photos, videos, text or links to other websites through use of pop up balloons.

Use When: When the most important thing about your content is location but when it is helpful to include links to other websites and html like content. This separates it from other the geo patterns I've suggested such as Virtual Globes where it a feature of the Virtual Globe such as the 3D topography view is the driver for choosing that format. In the case of 'Web with Maps' the web presentation takes precedence over the spatial presentation.

Why: Location sometimes is the most interesting thing about your content. In the case of the Darfur project above the pattern of the placemarks puts over the sheer scale of the crisis. Classic examples would be a website following an expedition or a set of photos where their location is important.

How: You can either choose to publish your material as a KMZ file so that it can be opened with Google Earth or embed a GEarth or GMaps plugin in a web page with no other material on it except for maybe a key. The Google Earth route is easier to produce without programming skills.

You may wish to provide linked web pages but the overall point is that the map represents the 'spine' of the content.


WaterAid promotes its work in developing nations with a Google Earth file which has text and photos in pop up balloons.

Public land for sale is a similar example

A Sound Map from Wild Sanctury:
this uses web based audio files, the map is the organising system so it is map with web IMHO.

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