Simon Willison’s Weblog


52 items tagged “google-maps”


You know Google Maps? What I do is, like, build little pieces of Google Maps over and over for people who need them but can’t just use Google Maps because they’re not allowed to for some reason, or another.

Joe Morrison

# 29th December 2020, 8:32 pm / google-maps


Google Maps’s Moat. Gorgeous essay by digital cartographer Justin O’Beirne, exploring how Google Maps has evolved over time and how the fantastically useful “areas of interest” feature (where commercial corridors and business districts are automatically highlighted) uses data derived from a combination of Street View business data and 3D building outlines derived from aerial imagery.

# 23rd December 2017, 9:35 am / google-maps, cartography


Is there an open source (or freely accessible) database of geofence coordinates for common places, such as cities or national parks?

Take a look at Flickr’s openly licensed shapefiles:

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Does the Google Maps API let you remove details of the map such as street names to focus on pins on the map?

Yes—you can do this with map styles (which allow you to set the visibility if road labels, among other things):

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Web app: what programming knowledge do I need to create a goings on app?

For this kind of application a much more important question than "how can I build it? is "where will I get the data from?"—If you don’t have a good answer for that building the app is a waste of your time. The world is littered with local events listings apps that no one uses because they don’t have good data.

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Why is everyone so obsessed with picking faults with Apple’s new maps on the iPhone?

Because this is actually a really big deal. For a lot of people (especially those who live in a big city like London or New York) the maps app is one of the most-used apps on their phone. The new iOS maps are a huge regression, not just in terms of map quality but also in terms of search results. On iOS 6 (at least here in the UK) you can’t even type in a simple address and trust that your phone will show you a pin in the right place.

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Google Maps and Label Readability. Obsessively detailed analysis of exactly what makes Google Maps so readable when compared to Yahoo! and Bing.

# 3rd December 2010, 5:08 pm / cartography, google-maps, recovered

How come Google Maps provides so many more local Wikipedia entries that GeoNames?

My guess is that GeoNames just uses the latitude/longitude fields from Wikipedia (you can see them in the top right corner of most pages that describe a place), whereas Google actually do some text analysis and attempt to geocode articles themselves, even if they don’t have an exact latitude longitude assigned to them.

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Diffable: only download the deltas. JavaScript library for detecting and serving diffs to JavaScript rather than downloading large scripts every time a few lines of code are changed. “Using Diffable has reduced page load times in Google Maps by more than 1200 milliseconds (~25%). Note that this benefit only affects users that have an older version of the script in cache. For Google Maps that’s 20-25% of users.”

# 11th July 2010, 12:19 pm / diffable, google-maps, javascript, performance, steve-souders, recovered commit dae961a... I’ve finally added an OpenStreetMap tab to—here’s the diff, it turns out adding a custom OpenStreetMap layer to an existing Google Maps application only takes a few lines of boilerplate code.

# 10th July 2010, 12:22 pm / getlatlon, google-maps, javascript, openstreetmap, projects, recovered


Cartographer.js. “Thematic mapping for Google Maps”—which means an easy way of adding heat maps (aka chloropleths), pie charts and point clusters as a layer over a Google map.

# 1st November 2009, 1:20 pm / google-maps, google, catography, maps, mapping, heatmaps, piecharts, graphs, infographics, visualisation, chloropleths

Static Maps API v2. The new version of the Google Static Maps API (static images generated using arguments in a URL, no JavaScript required) adds support for paths, areas and automatically geocoding addresses to specify locations of markers and the centre of the map.

# 26th August 2009, 9:01 am / google-maps, google, staticmapsapi, mapping

Making Image Overlays Easy with GGroundOverlay and GGeoXML (via) Surprisingly, there doesn’t appear to be a good online tool for helping align an overlay image with a Google Map and exporting the result as a KML file. This is the best I could find—Yahoo! used to have a tool called MapMixer but it doesn’t seem to exist any more.

# 30th July 2009, 10:58 pm / maps, google-maps, overlays

Hack Day tools for non-developers

We’re about to run our second internal hack day at the Guardian. The first was an enormous amount of fun and the second one looks set to be even more productive.

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Announcing Google Maps API v3. Sounds like a complete rewrite, with performance as the key goal. Only a developer preview at the moment, but my favourite feature is that API keys are no longer required.

# 28th May 2009, 1:22 am / google, api-keys, google-maps, googlemaps3, mapping

Google Maps Data API (via) I’m disappointed by this one—it’s really just a CRUD store for the KML files used in Google MyMaps. It would be a lot more useful if it let you perform geospatial calculations against your stored map data using some kind of query API—a cloud service alternative to tools like PostGIS.

# 20th May 2009, 9:07 pm / postgis, google-maps, google-maps-api, googlemapsdataapi, gdata, apis, gis, kml

AJAX APIs Playground. Ferociously useful collection of executable and editable example code for all(?) of Google’s JavaScript APIs, including Google Maps and the increasingly interesting Visualization API.

# 22nd January 2009, 6:38 pm / google, javascript, ajax, google-maps, googlevisualization


FOWA London—Beyond GoogleMaps. Andrew Turner’s talk at FOWA was the most information dense presentation I’ve ever seen, and discussed a huge number of cool geo projects that I’d never previously heard of. Andrew links to the full slides and video, well worth a watch.

# 17th October 2008, 2:01 pm / fowa2008, andrew-turner, geo, maps, google-maps, presentations

Google’s Wikipedia and Panoramio layers are now available in the API. I really like their use of reverse domain style identifiers for the layer IDs: map.addOverlay(new GLayer(“org.wikipedia”));

# 2nd October 2008, 11:59 am / google-maps, wikipedia, javascript, panoramio, glayer

Capital Radio’s London Guide. Worth pointing out: the search / map interface on this page is one of the best examples of progressive enhancement I’ve ever seen. Try disabling JavaScript and see what happens. It seems like most developers just can’t be bothered with this kind of attention to detail these days, which disappoints me.

# 29th August 2008, 1:48 am / capitalradio, londonguide, progressiveenhancement, unobtrusivescripting, javascript, accessibility, google-maps

MapIconMaker. Extension API that lets you programatically construct a Google Maps bubble marker icon with a custom size, gradient and stroke colour. Under the hood it uses the Google Chart API with the (undocumented?) “mm” chart type.

# 11th August 2008, 8:48 am / google-maps, googlechartapi, markers, mapiconmaker, javascript

HeatMapAPI (via) Cool (or should that be hot?) API for adding heat maps to any Google Maps application.

# 19th July 2008, 11:46 pm / google-maps, heatmaps, mapping

Capital FM London Traffic Map. We launched this today at GCap (née Global Radio). I’m particularly impressed with how well the team handled clustering the traffic cameras on the Google map.

# 27th June 2008, 6:22 pm / gcap, google-maps, clustering, traffic, capitalfm, london

Google Maps now shows photos and Wikipedia articles. Click the “More...” button. My first thought was “how do they get so many photo markers on the map?”—Firebug shows that they’re generating tiles on the server containing multiple photo markers, then when you click on one an Ajax call checks which photo is in that particular spot.

# 14th May 2008, 7:10 pm / google-maps, javascript, ajax, wikipedia

KML: A new standard for sharing maps. Google’s KML format, which is already supported by both Microsoft and Yahoo!’s map software, has been accepted under the wing of the Open Geospatial Consortium and is now an international standard.

# 14th April 2008, 6:36 pm / ogc, kml, google, google-maps, maps, mapping, OAuth and Fire Eagle

I’m pleased to announce It’s a simple site that does just one thing: show you a list of the five Wikipedia pages that are geographically closest to your current location. It’s designed (or not-designed) to be used mainly from mobile phones.

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Google Maps Without the Scripting. Google Maps has finally added a simple API for retrieving static map images.

# 4th March 2008, 11:54 pm / staticmaps, mapping, google-maps

Google Maps Clusterer. I’ve looked at a few clustering libraries for Google Maps, but this one seems to have the nicest API.

# 28th January 2008, 3:07 pm / clustering, google-maps, maps

The Art & Science of JavaScript. The JavaScript book I contributed to is now shipping! My chapter describes how to build a Flickr / Google Maps mashup entirely using client-side code (via JSON-P).

# 12th January 2008, 7:05 pm / javascript, writing, books, flickr, google-maps, jsonp, json, sitepoint, theartandscienceofjavascript

Google apps for your newsroom. How the LJ World team use online tools like Google Spreadsheet, Swivel, ManyEyes and Google MyMaps to collaborate with the newsroom and build data-heavy applications even faster.

# 7th January 2008, 9:24 pm / news, journalism, ljworld, django, manyeyes, google, mymaps, google-maps, google-calendar, google-docs, newsroom, collaboration, matt-croydon