If you haven’t been to Google Maps yet,

  1. Get yourself some better RSS feeds
  2. Go to http://maps.google.com/

Here are some cool things I’ve noticed about Google Maps. I think this is going to be one of those posts I update a lot in a day.

  • The URLs are fairly clean. You can look up an address from your location bar by putting “http://maps.google.com/maps?q=” before it. For example: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield
    You can also specify the latitude and longitude by passing ll=$LAT,$LON where $LAT and $LON are decimals. That means you can make a bookmarklet that would show you the location of a blog based on it’s GeoURL. In fact, I did just that: Map GeoURL
  • They use semi-transparent PNGs for routes over street maps (do they get this to work correctly in IE?). That means they only have to dynamically generate route images, all the map images can be static.
    Also, they’re using XSL on the client side, from a brief glance it looks like app uses XMLHttpRequest to query the map server, then rendering the result with XSL (but I could be completely wrong). Update: as simple as possible, but no simpler has an in depth look at the mechanics.
  • Google Local searches are based on what’s on the map by default. For instance, search for your address, clear the search box and search for pizza. Since the map is centered on your address, it will search around you. If you double click somewhere on the map to recenter and search again, it will use the new map center.

  • You can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move around the map. + and - zoom.

  • On the driving directions, you can click on the step number to see a cool zoom of what you need to do for your turn.

  • Google owns Keyhole, who make a really cool product with pictures of the world. Hopefully those pictures will get integrated real soon.

  • Ted Mielczarek has written a Firefox extension to load the current Google map into Keyhole. I don’t have Keyhole (there’s a free demo, but not for the Mac) so I haven’t tested it and can’t vouch for it.

6 responses to “Cool stuff I noticed about Google Maps”

  1. Ben says:

    Along the lines of current traffic, I think it would be nice to have an option on a driving directions map that offers alternative routes, or allows a user to filter out highways (like if I want to get directions for a walking, bike or scooter route where a highway isn’t an option.)

  2. Duane says:

    Transparent PNGs in IE can be accomplished using a .htc kludge. Check out http://www.meyerweb.com/ and search for “pngbehavior.htc”

  3. I thought the same thing about Keyhole. I wrote a quick Firefox extension to load the current Google Map location in Keyhole. You need to have Keyhole installed, but the free trial works.
    Google Maps to Keyhole 0.1

  4. Jacob says:

    Another cool Google maps trick: append “&output=xml” to any query for one of the best web services I’ve seen in a long time…

  5. Lindsay Keir says:

    FYI: Google maps also includes Canada; not only that, the search goes cross-border (just don’t forget to include ‘…,canada’ and ‘…,usa’)

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