Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Tim Hortons Google Maps Mashup

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A Double Double Mashup!

Tim Hortons may well be the most recognizable brand in Canada and this Google Maps mashup may well become the most popular in Canada (Next to the Beerhunter of course). Tim Hortons is the national donut and coffee shop named after Tim Horton, an x-NHL hockey player. The chain serves millions across Canada and in some northern US states. In some cases there are many, many locations in one city satisfying the cravings for that next "double double" (That's "Canadian" for coffee with double cream and double sugar and yes, there's a wikipedia entry for it)!

Pentura Solutions, experimenting with the Google Maps API, have created a Google Maps mashup for every Tim Hortons location in Canada. Using a mapping interface as your starting point coffee cup map markers plot each Tim Hortons location. As you pan the map more cups appear as the database automatically repopulates based on the area shown. Clicking a cup will display location address details, along with how that store is equipped to serve you (Drive through, lunch menu and dining area). Quick links to major Canadian cities are included in a drop down menu from the top and a full screen view is also available for a better look.

Tech description: On the backend of this mashup Pentura uses a 'Spatial DataBox' (SDB) to serve the hundreds of map pins at a rate of up to 10,000 clients per second. Apparently the SDB can serve AJAX map mashups faster and more economically than any other database. The SDB runs as a servlet within a Java web server. They use Tomcat but Websphere could be used. Above the SDB is a JavaScript connector, which gives any AJAX application a high-level programming interface through which queries are sent to the SDB and replies are received. Custom AJAX components sit on the top to coordinate the application. Data for this mashup has been screen scraped from the publicly accessible Tim Hortons website.

To locate a Tim Hortons location in the USA or by specific street or intersection, try the Tim Hortons Store Locator tool which makes use of MapQuest --> :( . Hopefully Tim Hortons HQ will consider taking on Pentura's app to replace this non map friendly app that is currently in place! :)

Wikipedia: Tim Hortons
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