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Amid the height of “March Madness” from the NCAA basketball tournament in the US and the end of the spring break, it’s a good time to look at campus maps and how students are getting around these days. As universities continue to grow, finding the location of a class is becoming more difficult. Fortunately for today’s students, our Geo APIs can help make campus navigation a lot easier.

Northeastern University

Northeastern University’s campus map is great example of a highly immersive Google Maps and Earth experience. Using the Google Earth Plug-in, users can ‘fly’ in animated 3D from one building to another. The entire campus is custom modeled in 3D (which can easily be done using Google SketchUp). The map also features custom icons, integrated directions, custom balloons with pictures, and even a page where users can see the locations of Northeastern students studying abroad.

University of Washington

This map is a great example of a seamless custom imagery overlay on top of the Google Maps baselayer. Buildings on the custom UW map are clickable and clicking on one of the buildings brings up a custom styled info window with links to departments held within the building. UW also provides a shortened URL for the building for easy sharing. On the left hand side of the map there is a navigation bar for noteworthy locations such as computer labs, parking, or libraries. Selecting one of the categories will populate the map with a corresponding custom icon. Extra credit points for a custom styled and easy to use UI, both in and around the map.

University of Ottawa

Going to school at the University of Ottawa presents some unique challenges, namely that it can get really cold in the winter. According to the City of Ottawa’s visitors site, the average temperature in January is -10 degrees Celsius! This map aims to make life easier for students by providing integrated direction with two options: shortest route and warmest route. Buildings at uOttawa are interconnected, so students can choose to go between buildings or to brave the cold outside. This map also features custom overlays, custom icons showing the locations of overpasses, and custom info windows.

University of California - San Diego

Waiting on your bus can sometimes be huge time sink, which is especially troublesome if you happen to be in the middle of finals. The University of California - San Diego has taken the guess work out of campus transportation by tracking the real time location of all their shuttles on a Google Map. Using the map above, students can see route maps, travel times, and shuttle locations. There’s also an integrated trip planner to help students get around the greater San Diego area.

University of Notre Dame

In addition to being a great looking and easy to use full screen map, the University of Notre Dame has added filtering tools to highlight the relevancy of certain buildings at a given time. For example, clicking on the “Game Day” overlay button will highlight Notre Dame stadium (where the games are played) and Bond Hall (where the marching band plays traditional game day concerts), as well as a few other buildings active on game day.

Mobile Campus Maps
As mobile devices and smart phones become more common amongst students on campus, schools like Missouri State University are taking advantage of mobile optimized Google Geo APIs. In February 2010, Chad Killingsworth, Assistant Director of Web & New Media at Missouri State University, posted a story here on the Geo Developers Blog about how his school created a mobile device optimized map for campus buildings, parking and real-time transit system information


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Last Fall we released the lost archives of the Google Geo Developers Series. Today, we are proud to announce two new videos by stars of the Google Maps API world.

First up, we have John Coryat. In 2007, John gave us Creating Custom Maps, one of our more popular videos in the Google Geo Developers Series. Today, we’re proud to present his latest, Simulating Markers with Tile Layers. A follow-up to Creating Custom Maps, this video presents advanced techniques in creating clickable tile layers. The techniques he describes are actually similar to those used by Google, for instance for rendering KML or Fusion Table Layers. This video talks about how to roll your own.

In our second video we have Chad Killingsworth. Chad presented with me at Google I/O last year in our session Map once, map anywhere, and is an official commiter to the Google Closure project. Fittingly enough, his video is on Using the Google Maps API with the Google Closure Compiler.

So enjoy these videos by these luminaries of the Google Maps API world.


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I’m a window seat person. If given the choice on a plane, I will always take the window seat, and not just so other passengers need not climb over me while I sleep. It’s also because I love the views during take off and landing. Whether it’s flying out over Sydney Harbour, or coming in to land over the Houses of Parliament in London, the view from a plane is a unique perspective on the world below.

Starting today you can bring that perspective to your Maps API applications with the launch of 45° imagery in select cities around the world. 45° imagery offers a superior perspective of city skylines than an overhead view. Tall buildings stand out from those around them, and iconic landmarks such as St. Mark’s Square in Venice are instantly recognisable. In addition you can rotate the map to look at buildings from all four sides:

You can track the cities where 45° imagery is currently available on this map. When 45° imagery is available a submenu option is added to the Maps API Satellite button. Right now the overhead imagery remains the default view for these areas. However in three weeks time this will change to match Google Maps, and the 45° imagery will become the default Satellite view where available. If you do not wish the behaviour of your Maps API application to change in this way, update your application now to add the following to your MapOptions object:

tilt: 0

In addition to 45° imagery we are also bringing the Overview Map Control to v3. This is a small interactive thumbnail map that shows an overview of the area around your map location and is attached to the bottom right of your map. The Overview Map Control can be minimized, which collapses it down to a small expand icon. To add the Overview Map Control to your map today in it’s opened state, add the following to your MapOptions:

overviewMapControl: true,
overviewMapControlOptions: {
  opened: true
}

In three weeks the Overview Map Control will be added by default to all Maps in its minimized state. If you do not wish the control to be added to your map at this time, add the following to your Map Options today:

overviewMapControl: false

We hope the addition of the Overview Map Control and 45° imagery to the API helps your users navigate around the world and see it from a new perspective. We’re continuously adding more 45° imagery, so keep an eye on the coverage map to see when it’s added for your city!

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As public WiFi becomes increasingly ubiquitous, we spend more and more of our time on shared networks. This can expose our personal data to third parties if the sites we access are not secure. Many sites use Google services to store and manage Google data. In response to this, Google is today announcing improved support for SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) across many APIs, and recommending that any application that manages user data switch to using SSL.

We want to ensure that applications using the Google Maps API are free to follow this recommendation. As such we are happy to offer free access to the Maps API v3, Static Maps API, and Maps API Web Services over HTTPS to all developers from today. To load the Maps API v3 over HTTPS, the API must be loaded from the hostname maps-api-ssl.google.com. For the Static Maps API and Web Services, please use maps.googleapis.com.

In addition to offering access over HTTPS, all of the Maps APIs (with the continuing exception of the Places API) will continue to be accessible over HTTP, and we recommend that sites that are using the API purely to display public data, such as store locations, continue to use HTTP for optimal performance.

Please also note that although SSL access is now available to all developers, the terms of the Maps API have not changed. If your site uses SSL because you charge for access to your application, or because your application is not publicly accessible to all users, you must still purchase a Maps API Premier license. For more information on Maps API Premier, please contact the Maps API Premier Sales team.

We hope this change assists in making your users feel safe and secure using your applications. If you have any questions or concerns about this change, please post to the Maps API v3, Static Maps API, or Web Services forum as appropriate for the service you are using.

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When looking at a Google Map it’s not always easy to get a sense for what the area looks like on the ground. Satellite imagery can indicate the terrain, whether it is urban or rural, desert or mountainous, and Street View can help in built up areas. But to convey the beauty of more scenic locations you really need a photograph.

For this reason we’re happy to make available the Photos layer from Google Maps to Maps API developers. The Photos layer adds thumbnails of geotagged photos to the map, which are sourced from Panoramio. They are a great way to add additional context to a map, and an on the ground perspective. Photos can be added to an API map using the PanoramioLayer class of the new Panoramio library. We have also added some additional flexibility to enable you to customize both the behaviour of the layer and the thumbnails shown by your application.

Firstly, applications can listen for clicks on the photo thumbnails and obtain information about the thumbnail concerned, which can then be used to load the photo using the Panoramio Widget API. Secondly, applications can also restrict the thumbnails shown to those of a particular user, or those with a particular tag. This allows you to only show thumbnails for photos that you have uploaded to Panoramio, or only show photos relating to a specific subject, such as beaches. You can try experimenting with different tags in the example below:

For more information on using the PanoramioLayer, please take a look at the Maps API documentation. As always, if you have any questions about using this or any other Maps API feature, we recommend the Maps API forum. We hope this new layer will help to brighten up your maps, and help your users get a better sense of the landscape you are mapping.

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KML and Earth had a really great year in 2010. Toward the end of the year, we added a bunch of new stuff, and wanted to recap it to let you know what we’ve been up to.

New in KML

Google Earth 6.0 was launched on Nov 29th, and with it came a whole host of new features. Trees, a new Street View mode in Earth, new measuring tools. But along with the product features, it came with some new KML extensions as well:

New in the Earth API

  • In the Earth API, we added the ability to enable/disable building selection and highlighting through mouse input in GEOptions.
  • New class KmlViewerOptions, to set global render state (Historical Imagery, StreetView, and Sun).
  • Added ability to enable/disable street view in GENavigationControl.
  • Added ability to enable/disable automatic transition to ground level view in GEOptions.
  • Added ability to enable/disable 3D tree rendering through new layer LAYER_TREES.
  • Added altitudeOffset functionality to KmlLinearRing and KmlLineString. This allows ability to set altitude for all vertices through a single function call.
  • Added copyAsLookAt and copyAsCamera conversion to KmlAbstractView.

Of course you can also check out the KML reference, check for things marked New!, and the Earth API release notes for more info.

Posted by Mano Marks, Geo APIs Team

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[Cross posted from Google Enterprise blog]

The integration between Google Fusion Tables and Google Maps API Premier makes it extremely easy to visualize thousands of locations on a map. Fusion Tables is a powerful, cloud-based database with geospatial smarts; you can attach a location to any record and then execute geospatial queries to find the relevant records. Organizations that need to map sensitive or private data will appreciate our new Protected Map Layer. For Maps API Premier customers, simply pop in your client ID into Fusion Tables and voila, you can visualize your data in your Maps API Premier implementation (and ONLY your implementation) and your underlying data tables are kept entirely private.

The marriage of Maps API Premier and Fusion Tables enables a true cloud-based location platform: no servers to stand up, no database applications to install - just upload your data and display it on a map. Dead simple and keeps your data safe - just as it should.

Posted by Daniel Chu, Enterprise Geo Product Manager