Monday, March 24, 2014

The Autocomplete Map Maker

I'm sure you've seen at least one of the popular autocomplete maps that have been doing the rounds over the last few months. These maps use Google search autocomplete to show what are the most popular search terms for locations around the world.

Well now you can create your own with the Map Channels Autocomplete Map Maker. I promise you that you are going to have a lot of fun playing with this, as you can enter any search terms that you want and almost instantly view the results on your own map. You can even embed your created maps in your own website.

Using the Autocomplete Map Maker you can create your own map in a matter of seconds and using whatever search terms you want. The wizard allows you to enter any search terms (both suffixes and prefixes) and then automatically creates your map built on Google autocomplete suggestions.

So, for example, you can enter 'Why is' as your prefix and 'so' as your suffix and you will get your own map of the world, displaying all the popular search entries for the countries in the world - Why is America so violent?

There are some very clever things going on with the Autocomplete Map Maker. The map automatically retrieves the autocomplete search results for your own terms from Google search. It then adds labels to a Google Map showing the results. You can select to view either the results for countries or for US states. You can even use your own KML of locations to customize the map to show the results only for your own locations (for example here is a map I created using a kml of some of America's cities).

The labels on the map are displayed using an enhanced version of the Google Maps label library. Map Channels has enhanced the library so that the labels don't overlap. Where two labels might overlap on the map, one is removed and is only shown as the user zooms in. This is a great enhancement to the map label library and I'm going to try and persuade Map Channels to release the code on Github.

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