Google Maps

Google released an interesting application the other day called Google Maps. Apart from the fact that it’s very well designed and very easy to use, there’s some fun stuff going on in the background that I really want to tinker with. More information concerning the actual tech behind the site can be found in this article.

One of my favorite commands back with Google Local was being able to search for ‘*’ near a location, this would give you a list of results that are immediately close to you. The same thing has carried over to Google Maps, with one exception: The data is now semi-available in a easy to parse XML format. For example:

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=*+near+rochester,+ny&output=xml

will return a list of everything closest to the center of Rochester. And to make things even easier, you can use the URL:

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=*+near+rochester,+ny&output=js

to import the data straight into your web application. This is a very cool thing.

One of the features that I wanted to do with one of my projects a while back, Google Local Social Network (GLSN), was to provide results inline to the user – now it seems as if that’s possible, in a big way. This is because another feature is available in XML format: Directions! Using just another form of the URL above you can get a nice, parseable, set of directions to navigate to your destination, for example:

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=buffalo,+ny+to+rochester,+ny&output=xml

I can’t wait to play around with this some more, but whenever I get the time, GLSN is definitely due for an overhaul.

Posted: February 10th, 2005


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