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Learn what you can do with Google Map Maker and get started with building your first map with this book and ebook

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by Limoke Oscar | May 2013 | Web Development

In this article by Limoke Oscar, authors of Instant Google Map Maker Starter [Instant], we will show you how to perform one of the core tasks of Google Map Maker—mapping the places you love and know. Follow the steps to create your own map features, which will be the basis of most of your work in Google Map Maker.

(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)

Common issues in Google Map Maker

Before we get started, it's worth taking into consideration some of the known issues with Google Map Maker:

  • Map Maker interface does not usually come fully translated into all languages at the same time. UI translations are usually rolled out gradually and are a part of another community-driven effort. This project is accessible at http://www.google.com/ transconsole/giyl/chooseProject. Note that some of the languages—for example, Urdu despite being translated completely—still are not available in Map Maker UI.

  • Map Maker has not been verified for compatibility with Internet Explorer 7 and earlier versions of IE.

Google Map Maker is accessed by firing the URL http://www.google.com/mapmaker. To access and get started with Map Maker, you must have a Google Account in order to start making and submitting edits. A Google Account is a unified sign-in system that provides access to a variety of free Google consumer products such as Gmail, Google Groups, Google Maps, Google Wallet, AdWords, AdSense, and so on. Think of a Google Account as a single Google sign-in, made up of an e-mail address (any e-mail address, does not have to be a Gmail) and a password of your choice, that gives you access to all the Google products under your own profile.

Create your Google Account by visiting https://accounts.google.com/SignUp if you would like to use another e-mail address. If you already have a Gmail account, please sign in from the left pane when you visit http://www.google.com/mapmaker, as shown here:

The Map Maker interface during the first visit

The Map Maker interface

The Google Map Maker interface is simple, intuitive, and easy to use. It has standard graphical icons that help you navigate around the tools and functionalities. Let us take a closer look at it:

A first-time login to Map Maker starts by displaying a tutorial to quickly take you through the key features of Google Map Maker. You can navigate your way through the quick tutorial by going back and forth using the respective forward and back arrows. You can close the quick tutorial and get started with making edits right away by clicking on the X icon on top. Don't worry, you can always access the tutorial later, as will be explained later in this book.

The Map Maker UI

Let us take a detailed look at the Map Maker interface, I have tried to subdivide it based on the main functionalities and purposes of the tools. Key tools/sections that you need to know are highlighted and clearly labeled as well. I have named them based strictly on the functionality and this is by no means the conventional way of doing so.

Let us take a quick deep dive into the tools and see what each section serves:

Search

The search area allows you to search and fly to places you want to in Map Maker in an instant. It works just like Google Search, only that it returns a map zoomed to the area/business you queried. Try it. Type the name of your city and hit Enter. This comes in handy when, on visiting Google Map Maker, the default load is not defaulting to your current location much as it should or just when you want to make edits and/or reviews in some other area you are familiar with or just to view and visit places. Take a look at the following search query:

Review area

This is the area that displays your own recent edits as well as displaying edits happening within your neighborhood that you created or are based on your location. You can switch between the tabs based on the functionality that you want; the different tabs are explained as follows:

  • Everything: This tab is like a channel stream or timeline. Shows the recent activities in terms of new edits, reviews, or comments by you and other mappers within the neighborhood view of the map, that is, the current location of the map that is in view. See the following example:

    An Everything view

  • To Review: This area only highlights the edits whose reviews are pending.

  • Recently Published: Streams all those recent edits, which have been approved and published. You can, however, still contest these edits or correct them if they are incorrect.

  • Filter by Category: Just next to the Recently Published tab, you will find a three-dot tab that allows you to expand this section. This section is the filter section and gives you the power to filter by categories the actions, places, and edits you would like to perform. For instance, you may just be interested in (re)viewing road and line features or the chronological order of the edits being made in the locale.

    Filter by Category

Map view area

This is the area where the Google Maps loads in order to allow you to perform the operations and edits that you want. The map view usually defaults to your current location when you visit

http://www.google.com/mapmaker.

Map controls

These tools allow you to control the view of the map. They allow you to pan, zoom, and view Street View for supported cities. Let's take a look at what and how each of the tools comes in handy:

Map controls

Edit control

This is the area that allows you to make new edits to Map Maker and correct existing ones as well. You can create new point, line, and polygon features by exploring the Add New tab. Note that the tools will change according to the main tool selected. You can also edit existing point, line, polygon, and direction features by exploring the Edit tab. We will take a deep dive into this section a little later in this book.

Personal/User area

I call this the personal area, because it allows you to personalize your Map Maker through custom settings and adding labs (experimental features that are still under testing and development). Labs allow you to extend the normal functionality of Map maker. This section also allows you to share your edits, directions, and maps with your friends by generating a unique URL for it. Create and make changes to your Map Maker profile, access Help and discussion forums, report a bug, and as well as submit feedback to the Google Maker team by using these tools.

Personal user area

View

The View section allows you to switch between the different layers of Google Map Maker—Satellite and Map. In a Map view, you only get to view the map details created by users, whereas in Satellite view, you can see the map elements overlaying the satellite imagery provided to Google by various satellite imagery providers and partners. This is the best layer to use when making edits as it allows you to draw/trace over the edits from the satellite imagery to creating the features in a process called digitization in Cartography terms. It is actually the backbone of this community-driven project. Users have to align everything from satellite imagery to points feature, line features, and polygon features for better accuracy; otherwise their edits may be denied or delayed in the reviewing process. You can add more layers such as photos, which will display edits /features alongside the photos uploaded among other features. To switch between and add layers, simply click on it and the Map view will be populated with the layer(s) of your selection.

Different views in Map Maker

Contributors

The Contributors' segment displays all the contributors who have made a substantial number of edits on the area of the Map view. It displays the contributors' preferred nicknames (set during the signing-up stage). If you click on any nickname, it takes you to their respective Map Maker profiles showing their edits and badges earned.

Scale

This section will show us the display scale of the map as we zoom in and out.

Summary

This article explained in detail how we can use the different features of Map Maker to our benefit. It also explained the different interfaces used in Google Map Maker.

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Instant Google Map Maker Starter [Instant] Learn what you can do with Google Map Maker and get started with building your first map with this book and ebook
Published: March 2013
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About the Author :


Limoke Oscar

Limoke Oscar has been a member of the Google Map Maker community since 2009. He completed his undergraduate studies in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Geomatic Engineering and Geospatial Information Systems from the Jommo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Nairobi, Kenya. He hopes to pursue a postgraduate degree in the same field in the near future. He has worked as a Google Apps Technical Support Associate at Google Kenya and is currently a Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) Consultant running a geo solutions firm that he cofounded—Geoglobal East Africa Ltd. He is an avid user and contributor to Google Map Maker and other Google Geo tools and has made extensive contributions to Google Map Maker. In 2011, he was awarded a Distinguished Map Maker certificate by Google. He believes in giving back to his community through knowledge and technology as tools of empowerment. He does so by volunteering for the Wikimedia Foundation and the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Foundation.

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