New Aspects of the Google Maps API

It’s been an active few weeks for the Google Maps API team. They’ve announced a number of interesting new additions, and the community has discovered a few more. We can’t possibly hope to cover everything in great detail, but we do hope to work these changes into any future revisions of our book. Until then, here is a summary of what we’ve learned in the last little while.

Automatic Clustering

On November 7th, the API team announced a Marker Manager would be included in the 2.67 release of the API. The weather example they have in the blog post is quite cool, however some comments on the newsgroup suggest it’s not a perfect solution to many problems yet. From what we’ve seen, this would make an excellent addition to many simple maps where markers are never removed from the list and are instead only hidden by the marker manager.

The techniques in the second part of our book (for managing hundreds of thousands of points) are still entirely valid, only now we could add an example that uses the marker manager to ease the transition from a few dozen points, in chapter 4, to thousands in chapter 5. We encourage everyone who’s worked through the second part of the book to take a look at the marker manager and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Lastly, in the tradition of chapter 8, we expect that the marker manager will eventually (within in a year or two) replace much of the custom code we work through in the second part of the book. However, even then, our examples and explanations of each strategy should help new mappers understand what is going on behind the scenes, which is important when building maps that go beyond the “hobby” level.

It just keeps getting better and better.

Over the last little while, Google has added quite a bit more data to their offering. We won’t go into too much detail on each one since they’re fairly self explanatory.

  • Brasil: Google added road and landmark data for the entire country. Geocoding works to the city/town level and it is expected that street-level geocoding can’t be that far away.
  • Japan: Google added zoom levels 18 and 19 to the street data in Japan. It’s extrordinarily cool to see individual buildings and the locations of street lights marked right on the default map. It looks like Google was able to get a better-than-average set of data from Japan. I might even venture to say that it’s cooler than the US and Canada’s data…
  • Africa: The indespensible Google Maps Mania offered up the scoop on the fact that large parts of the African continent now have map tiles for at least the major streets. Awesome!

Easy Come, Easy Go.

Google Maps Mania first alerted us to this post over at the Mapperz Blog. For a little while, it appeared that UK Geocoding was on the horizon. Then, Google reversed the functionality for contractual reasons.

RIP Version One

We all knew it was coming, however Google officially shut down version 1 of their API when they released version 2.67. Most of the maps coded before version 2 should still work and any JavaScript calls that still use v=1 will actually be served the v=2 code. Google has provided an upgrade guide to help anyone whose map broke in the transition.

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