As a Geographer and map geek one of the hardest lessons I have learnt, and what many in the web mapping field still need to learn is…
Eds law of mashups..
“The map is important, but not as important as the data you are publishing on top of it”
Yes the expensively created, well drafted work of art you have struggled to produce following years of effort, is actually just providing a background or context to the location of pizza restaurants or free car parking places.
You might not like that, but is true !
A number of web mapping companies have over the last few years experimented with a few different colour pallet tile sets, but last week rather buried by the other Google I/O announcements, the latest enhancements to the v3 Google Maps API was announced in the form of “Styled Maps“.
Rather than just present a few fixed tile sets, styled maps allow you to dynamically create a map based on a custom colour palette so there is a huge range of possible map styles available to you.
Styled maps may be used to;
- Make the background map less intrusive..
- Conform to a website design, A orange map for easyjet ?
- Make some features “invisible”, – remove minor roads for example !
So this is not a full computer cartography tool yet, but these enhancements we meet the needs of many map developers to make their maps unique.
Those in the know will realise this represents a whole new way of rendering maps online, the definition of a “map style” is stored as JSON matching map feature types to styles defined by hue, lightness, saturation, gamma, inverse_lightness and visibility.
To make life a little easier there is a rather neat web tool to define your styles.
Remember one day, no two Google maps will be the same…
Written and submitted from the Google Offices, London (51.495N, 0.146W)