Using GMaps

Locating my worlds.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Your GMap - A GMap Tool Review


Tool Name: Your Gmap
Function: You can create a GMap with locations and descriptions accessed with a wide assortment of markers. Your completed map is hosted by YourGMap and can be accessed from your webpage in 2 ways. They provide you a bit of html that will either place a link to your map on their site or embed the map directly on your webpage. In both cases your map is hosted by YourGMap so your latest and greatest map is always the one your visitors will see.

Rating: 5 DiggerNuts
On a 5 point scale with range from 5=Best to 1=Not My Nut
This is a Great Tool !

What Did I Do?
I created a map of the locations of family homes of my mother's ancestors in the area of Eugene, Oregon. I started the project last night and within a short time I had a useable map. The interface is very easy and satisfying to use.

I had a bigger goal of really understanding what I was doing with this new tool so that I can leave tracks for others during their own explorations. You can read my previous posts for a glimpse of me slogging through the bog for this new blog'o'mine.

Here is the finished product.



Tips, Issues & Limitations

TIP: Fitting The Map into Default Blogger Screen

I use Blogger as my blog host, and I am new to this enterprise, as well. So, I am interested in fitting the map into their default screen. My box is a 15" 3 year old Compaq Presario Laptop and I run it with a display of 1400 x 1050 pixels.

Page Width = 400 pixels


  • The map will not extend into region allotted for frames on the right. This allows the frame to be aligned to the top of your page.

Page Height = mine is set to 500 pixels

Caution

If you want to experiment with widths, remember to cut and paste the html provided by YourGMap into you webpage for each change. It contains the expected map dimensions. If the map is wider than the webpage expects, then it will be clipped on the right side. See the Post: Avoid Clipping Your Map to see a clipped map.

Using 2 - Column Format

In this mode you create your map as usual, but you don't control the width or height. The bit of html provided gives you the address of your map at YourGMap. Place the link on your webpage. Visitors click and are redirected to your map. Here is a link to a 2-column map of the Beanery Coffee Houses in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

My Wish List

  1. It would be great to be able to make a copy of a map that I've made so that I can modify it under another name, or make it available as both an embedded map and a linked map. I really like the 2 column format so that all the map info is available to scan at a glance.
  2. Width and height control is not available for 2-column maps. It would be nice to have control of the height so that the initial view of the map can be more closely adjusted to the distance between the top and bottom locations. See the Beanery Map as an example.

The Folks At Your GMap

While I was struggling with building my own understanding of how all these tools work together, Gabor Cselle was very helpful with explanations and made changes to better lead the user. These are top notch folks! There is a User Forum that you can post questions on if you are registered.

Using Google Maps Mania

A Great GMap Resource
For anyone trying to hop on the GMap freight, Google Maps Mania is a great resource. You'll find intelligent posts with up to date information and tips. On the right frame there are scads of links to whatever may interest you about GMaps. My current favaorite is GMaps Creation Tools. Be sure to do a site google search to access previous posts on a subject.

About Using YourGMaps on Blogger



Update 4Jan06: The Info Here is Obsolete

For anyone who has slogged here in hopes of gleaning some nuggets of knowledge, I will leave some notes. See YourGMap Review .

4Jan06: I left this note yesterday as I began to see how things really work
Previous Posts Track My Learning Curve
I've been exploring using YourGMaps as embedded maps on Blogger and I'm new to this whole arena. In my previous posts I slog around in confusion as I learn about posting to a blog and making gmaps. Some of the comments are no longer descriptive of the map that is displayed because I did not initially appreciate the implications of posting a map that is hosted elsewhere. This is, in fact, a benefit because as you modify your map, the changes appear on your webpage when you re-load.


4Jan06: This is still Good Information. See YourGMap Review .
Values For A Good Fit With Blogger Page Defaults

Page Width = 400 pixels



  • The map will not extend into region allotted for frames on the right. This allows the frame to be aligned to the top of your page. My display is set to 1400 x 1050 pixels.
Page Height = mine are 500 pixels


4Jan06: Nope - no more oddness
Odd Behavior


4Jan06: This was an artifact of Operator Error. See Avoid Clipping Your Map
Map Buttons: Map, Satellite, Hybrid



  • If you select Hybrid for your map definition, the buttons are clipped on the right. But, if you begin with Map selected, the set of buttons are shifted to the left a bit and are not clipped.

4Jan06: The 2-column feature is accessible through a link place on your page. The map is viewed from the YourGmap server. The folks at YourGMap fixed up their "Exports Page" so that the user sees directly what their options are.

Page Width less than 728 pixels



  • The initial width setting for your map will be 728 pixels with 2 column format. You can select to embed the map and a bit of html will be provided that you can paste on your webpage. If you leave the width and height settings alone -- I mean, do not fiddle with them at all -- you will get a nice map with a column to the left that contains your locations with their descriptions. The whole package will be framed inside of YourGMaps header. If you narrow the width setting, you lose the 2 column ability and the header. Okay, fine. But, you can't them back by restoring the width to 728 pixels!

Duh -- Da map is stored at YourGMap

I see!
The maps created by YourGmaps are stored by them and when the blog accesses a map, the current settings are used. What I was thinking I was going to show from post to post was a migration of how the settings affect the look and feel of the map. Instead each time I change the settings, the previously displayed map morphs into its new definition... Duh...

Homesteads - 2nd Try

Here is the new map I created with YourGmaps.

The code that YourGmaps supplied to create the map is pasted into the Edit Html tab of the Blogger Post Editor.

Note from 3Jan05
While trying unsuccessfully to recreate the clipped button situation, I realised what probably happened. It was early in my learning curve and I was pasting html and publishing trying to figure the map width for this blog. I think I must have widened the map without pasting the new html - which, of course would clip the new map since the blog held the old width definition. This image is the result of a map width = 450 pixels and an expected width = 400 pixels!!






Map Format Notes

The map format is as I defined it.
1. 2 Columns - the map on the right and the scrollable list of locations on the left.
2. The map is framed in the YourGMap header.

Next Change
1. I want a narrower format to fit on the default width of the Blogger screen.

Using Longitude and Latitude Finder

I'm using Longitude and Latitude Finder to access the decimal equivalent of the degrees, minutes, seconds format from google maps. I'm listing a set of locations that I want to use in a map I'm creating with YourGMaps. They have an option for this function that works well, but I'm having some problems with the final format of the map. I want an independent source before recreating my map with YourGMaps. I'll describe the output format issues in more detail in another post.

My Site List for New Map

The Farm: 44.228510965007246, -123.06871891021728
After The Farm: 44.07566992423739, -123.12692284584045
The Marcola House: 44.17420171791179, -122.860107421875
John Lewis' Saw Mill on Shotgun Creek: 44.2132869677326, -122.82939076423645
The Cemetery in Mabel: 44.213671460557606, -122.82839298248291
Brother Ritter's House: 44.214601922805926, -122.82829642295837