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We’ve been using Google Maps for years now, ever since it was first released. I find the Ajax interface to be very easy to navigate, and I’m happy with the results. One of the great things about Google is that they are always adding new features. The problem is, that sometimes these new features slip in and as a regular user you have no idea. Granted, their new Street View feature (see real images and navigate 360 view at the street level) is getting a lot of news in the past weeks because of privacy issues. However, there are plenty of other features available, and I recently discovered two I didn’t previously know about.
For example, did you know that you can look at a Google Map and see traffic flow (real time)? How’s that for last minute planning! Did you know that you can save common addresses and even make your own address a default starting location?
I highly encourage you to read the Google Maps User Guide so that you can see what you’re missing. Learning keyboard navigation and knowing simple things like your mouse scroll wheel can zoom are going to make things easier for you.
So what two things did I learn? First, that they’ve now added the ability to Add Destinations to your directions. This means you no longer have to go from Point A to B and then from point B to Point C on two different sets of driving directions. You can go from A to C via B. Real nice for multiple destination travels.
The other thing is the really awesome ability to create your own map! These can be public, such as America’s Highway: Oral Histories of Route 66, or they can be private (non searchable). Being private doesn’t mean you can’t give out the link to other people —
— such as Directions to Our House. Now, I didn’t add any nifty pictures or video, because that would just be overkill… for now at least…
Now you have a link which takes you to a fully interactive Google Map that I created. You can click on our house, and have all the regular Google Map features, such as ‘Get Directions to this Point’. Or you can simply print it out and have the information to come visit us! Wanna see something really cool? Follow the link to our directions and then switch on Satellite View. Now you can see the actual streets AND our house. If you get lost now, it’s really NOT my fault.
(Edit: 6/13/07 — I removed the link to the house directions for privacy concerns. There are other public maps available for you to get the idea, and if you are particular friend/family who could actually USE the directions to our house, I’ll be glad to forward the link along to you)
Google Map Mashups are a whole separate post, but I’d want to pointout Wayfaring.com, which is a pretty slick one that I’ve used before. It takes all the features of the My Maps functionality and extends it into the public area. This way multiple people can add points of interest and leave comments, etc. Imagine, for example, a map with all the locations of SCA groups in NJ.. or even finer, just the members of Tadcaster and their relation (distance) to each other.