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Author Photo Wow, what an amazing week at Google I/O. First and foremost, I really enjoyed meeting many of you, the developers who continue to build great maps, who push the boundaries of what is possible, and who push us to grow and improve our mapping APIs. I am always pleased and amazed at the work you do.

We’re all heading home, tired from the week. We’ll do a more complete wrap-up next week, but I wanted to give you a brief taste before then.

We had a LOT of Google Maps going on this year, with ten sessions on the Google Maps track, the Maps for Good session on the Tech Talk track, and two codelabs. Too many to name them all here, but I wanted to highlight a few that you might have missed. I want to thank all the speakers, the organizers, and the TAs in our codelabs as well.

We also had a bunch of new features launch, including Symbols and Heatmaps for data visualization, a number of enhancements to Styled Maps, and the heavily requested addition of public transit to the Maps API.

The video for every session is being posted to the Google Developer Channel on YouTube, and embedded in the session page on the Google I/O site. All sessions for day one are now available, with the remainder to be added over the next few days.

Since it’s my post, I’ll end with Enterprise Geospatial in the Cloud with myself and Sean Maday. We published our slides this morning.



On a personal note, I’ll be taking the month of July off. I’ll miss you all while I’m enjoying sunny Italy. Have a great summer!


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At Google I/O two years ago we launched Styled Maps in the Google Maps API, which allows you to customize the look of the map in your applications. Today we’re rolling out a number of enhancements to Styled Maps that offer more precise control over both the selection of map features to style, and the ways you can style them:
  • You can now specify a precise color for features as an RGB value in addition to the existing adjustment filters for hue, saturation, lightness, and gamma.
  • You can now style the outline stroke of features separately from the interior fill, and the label text separately from any icon.
  • You can now adjust the width of line features such as roads and rivers, and also the width of feature outlines.



If you would like to try designing a map that would suit your site we recommend that you start with the updated Styled Maps Wizard. Once you are happy with your style you can apply it to your Maps API v3 application as detailed in the Styling section of the Maps API documentation.

Web sites like the Submarine Cable Map and the NY Times already use Styled Maps to simplify or soften a map in order to draw more attention to the data provided. Map of the Dead and The Global Transition to a New Economy restyle their maps to fit the house style or theme of their respective websites. There have also been a few maps that are just a little unusual, such as Fata Morgana.

If you need assistance in using Styled Maps for your site, or have any other Maps API related question, we recommend consulting our developer community and support channels. We look forward to seeing how you take advantage of these new Styled Maps features to make even more beautiful and engaging new Maps!


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The Google Maps API provides a robust platform in which you can add geographical context to your data in a variety of ways. Data visualization is therefore one of the elements at the heart of the Maps API, and today we’re introducing two new techniques for visualizing your data in flexible and dynamic ways.

Symbols

At SXSW Interactive in 2011, I attended a session on geotemporal data visualization that made me keen to make it easier for Maps API developers to build visualizations similar to those discussed. For this reason I’m particularly excited to introduce a simple, yet powerful, new concept to the Maps API v3 that we call Symbols.

Unlike the image icons currently used for marking locations on a map, a Symbol is defined as a vector shape. The size, stroke width, color, and opacity of the shape, are all set by the Maps API application and can be dynamically modified. A small number of shapes, such as a circle, are provided by the Maps API, and custom shapes can be expressed as an SVG path.

Symbols open up a wide range of compelling new possibilities for data visualization and visual effects. For example, the below map illustrates the expansion of the Walmart chain of stores between 1962 and 2006:



In addition to using symbols to represent point features you can also decorate polylines with Symbols. One or more symbols, such as an arrowhead, can be placed at fixed positions on the polyline or repeated along the polyline. Because the polyline that has been decorated does not need to be visible, this feature can also be used to created dotted or dashed polylines, and just as the style of the symbols can be dynamically modified, so too can their location on the polyline:



Heatmaps

Developers often ask how they can represent large amounts of data on a map. Improvements in web browser technology have increased the number of markers that can be rendered by a Maps API application, but above a certain threshold the density of markers can overwhelm the user.

An alternative approach is to use a heatmap, and to enable this approach we’re launching support for browser rendering of heatmaps by the Maps API using the new Heatmap Layer. Your Maps API application can define the colour spectrum, intensity range, and behaviour of the heatmap when the map is zoomed. Here’s the Walmart example from above, but this time visualized as a heatmap:


If you have any technical questions about these new features, we recommend engaging with our developer community online, or joining our regular Google Maps API Office Hours. If you’re at I/O come see us in person at Office Hours in the Google Maps developer sandbox. We’d love to to meet you, hear how you’re using the Maps API, and answer any questions you may have!

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Google Maps API now enables developers to add Transit data, including public transit directions, to their maps and apps.

Whether you're planning a trip from your computer or on the spur of the moment from your mobile device, Google Maps helps you find directions in more than 475 regions around the world. Today we're pleased to announce that public transit directions are now available in the Google Maps API.

Public transit has been one of the most requested features by Maps API developers, and you can now use it in both the Google Maps Javascript v3 and the Directions Web Service. It's simple for you to update your apps to also offer routing by public transit in addition to driving, bicycling, and walking. The transit route responses include the number of stops, direction of travel and more. It will also tell you what type of vehicle you will be travelling on. Everything from a typical subway train to a funicular!




To support the launch of routing by public transit we're also adding the Transit Layer to the Maps API. For example if you are a retail chain, the Transit Layer allows you to show all the bus major transit lines that run past each store. The Transit Layer can be displayed by enabling the TransitLayer(), it’s as simple as that!

If you're using a Google Map, you can now use the Directions API web service to add this useful and helpful transit data to your map. As always, if you have any questions about public transit in the Google Maps API, we recommend posting to our sponsored tag on Stack Overflow, or if you’re at Google I/O swing by at the Google Maps Developer Sandbox. Happy commuting!

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Since launching the Google Maps API seven years ago, we’ve been awed by the many ways developers have used the service to build great mapping apps. As you may know, last year we introduced limits on the number of free maps that developers could show daily through the Google Maps API. Since then, we’ve been listening carefully to feedback, and today we’re happy to announce that we’re lowering API usage fees and simplifying limits for both Styled and regular maps. Here are the details:
  • Changes to pricing. While the Maps API remains free for the vast majority of sites, some developers were worried about the potential costs. In response, we have lowered the online price from US $4 per 1,000 map loads to 50¢ per 1,000 map loads.

  • Simplified limits. We’re eliminating the previous distinction between Styled Maps and regular unstyled maps. The same usage limits and pricing now apply to applications using Styled Maps and the default Google Maps style.

We’re beginning to monitor Maps API usage starting today, and, based on current usage, fees will only apply to the top 0.35% of sites regularly exceeding the published limits of 25,000 map loads every day for 90 consecutive days. We aren’t automating the application of these limits, so if your site consistently uses more than the free maps allowance we’ll contact you to discuss your options. Please rest assured that your map will not stop working due to a sudden surge in popularity.

Based on questions we’ve heard during regular conversations with developers, we’d also like to remind you of the following facts.
  • To monitor whether your site might be affected by the Maps API usage limits, use a Google APIs Console key with your applications. Daily usage reports will then be generated in the console.

  • If you are a high-trafficked site, please consider Google Maps API for Business, our enterprise offering with technical support, a service level agreement, and additional benefits.

  • Non-profit organisations aren’t affected by the Maps API usage limits and can also apply for a free Maps API for Business license through the Google Earth Outreach grants program.

  • You can generate revenue from your Maps API application using AdSense for Maps, which enables you to display relevant ads on or alongside your map.

We hope the changes we’re announcing today will help you continue to deliver the most innovative maps experience to your users. If you have any questions or concerns please post to the Google Maps API forums or contact the Google Maps API for Business Sales team using this form. We look forward to helping you build great Maps applications for many years to come.

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Map of the Week: The Global Transition to a New Economy
Why we like it: This map is a great way to discover NGO projects from all over the world. The info-graphic style of the site is a well designed way to catalog a large amount of information, that’s easy to access and understand. Additionally, by using Styled Maps to simplify the color scheme of the map, the color coded markers really pop out.

In the run-up to this year’s United Nations’ Conference on Sustainable Development 2012 (Rio+20), the New Economics Institute launched the Global Transition to a New Economy. As described by the organization, “The Global Transition to a New Economy maps innovative projects that challenge business as usual ... Together, these projects create a world that prioritizes human well being, within environmental limits.”



Promoting activism on a global scale is a very complex task. This map aims to make things easier by cataloging the efforts of many different NGOs on and around the map.

The map employs several design elements to create a very focused message. For example, the color of the map fits in well with the branding of the site and there’s even the ability to turn political labels on or off, which is a creative way of using styled maps to show that the problems we face in future are not exclusive to any boundary.



It’s great to see another example of the Google Maps API being used to promote good causes in the world. We hope visitors will use this map to discover great organizations around the world and help solve the environmental and economic problems we face.

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Google I/O is around the corner, and I’m really looking forward to all the great sessions and meeting many of our great developers. There are ten sessions scheduled scheduled for Google Maps, plus three codelabs. OK, now I’m getting nervous thinking about everything that has to be done before then!

Anyway, the whole Google Maps Developer Relations Team will be there, as well as several engineers, product managers, and at least one vice president. For those of you who will be there, please introduce yourself, we love meeting Maps developers. If you can’t make it to Google I/O, you can still participate through Google I/O Extended, and all the sessions will be recorded.  OK, now it’s time to get ready!

To help warm us up for Google I/O, on Tuesday, Susannah Raub and Marcelo Camelo from the Google Maps API team in Sydney will join me in the next Google Maps API Office Hours. Susannah is the tech lead for the Google Maps API, and Marcelo is the tech lead for the Place API. The three of us will talk about our upcoming sessions at Google I/O and answer your questions. For more information, check out our Google+ Post. Susannah and Marcelo are fun so it should be a great conversation. I look forward to having you there.

Speaking of Office Hours, Yesterday I sat down with Thor Mitchell and Chris Broadfoot for our latest Google Maps API Office Hours, at a Sydney friendly time. Chris and I talked with Thor about his favorite subject, the Google Maps API. We had a wide-ranging conversation about the Google Maps API V3, the coming end of the deprecation period for V2 and general thoughts about the future of Google’s mapping technologies. You can check out the video here:



Posted by Mano Marks, Google Maps Developer Relations Team

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Last week, I mentioned in my Fab Friday post that it’s been two years since the deprecation of V2 of the Google Maps JavaScript API. In those two years, we’ve seen the number of sites using the Google Maps API grow from 350,000 to 800,000, and we have happily seen many sites switch from V2 of the Google Maps API to V3. As we have less than a year before the end of the deprecation period for the Maps API V2, it’s time to remind  everyone else to upgrade to the latest version of the Google Maps API.

With that in mind, Thor Mitchell, Product Manager for the Google Maps API, will sit down Thursday night 18:30 Pacific Time with me and Chris Broadfoot to discuss the benefits of V3, how to migrate from V2, and any other questions you might have about the Maps API. We’ll answer any questions you post on Google Moderator and join us live in the hangout. For those of you not able to join, you can view the video later, which we will post to this blog and to our Google+ Page.

We will also be conducting regular office hours every week, alternating between Sydney and Mountain View friendly times. You can ask your questions about upgrading or anything else related to Google Maps. Just keep an eye on our Google+ Page for more information.

What do you get with V3? Here’s just a few features that are only available in V3:

Styled Maps
Distance Matrix
Places Library
Geometry Library
Weather Library
Circles and Rectangles
Marker Animation
And much more

So we look forward to seeing you in office hours, online, and at Google I/O!



Posted by Mano Marks, Google Maps Developer Relations Team

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Map of the Week: Nature Valley Trail View
Why we like it: This map has a lot of great qualities. In particular: It’s a great example of custom Street View panoramas in the Google Maps API and it’s a great example of using the Google Maps API as the centerpiece of a interactive marketing campaign with a positive goal.

Launched in March 2012, Nature Valley Trail View uses custom Street View panoramas to take viewers through select national parks in the United States. What really impressed us is the number of custom Street View panoramas. Taking DIY to a whole new level, the developers of this site even created their own cameras to build upon the imagery that’s already available in the Google Maps API.

According to Nature Valley, the site is about supporting the causes that are important to its customers. This site is part of larger partnership between Nature Valley and the National Parks Conservation Association, a nonprofit group that supports national parks in the U.S.



In using the Google Maps API, Nature Valley Trail View has proven that it’s possible to create marketing collateral that provides real value to a customer. Below is a short video from Nature Valley explaining the origins of the projects.



Above all, this Google Maps API implementation reminds us that many images can be shared as a Google Street View like experience. So if you would like to have your own Street View panoramas (to share with the world or just a small group of people) it’s possible to pick up a camera and create your own great imagery.

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Next Thursday, at 6:30pm Pacific Time, Thor Mitchell, Product Manager for the Google Maps API, will be sitting down with myself and Chris Broadfoot for a Google Maps API Office Hours on Google Plus. Thor will be discussing and taking your questions on a variety of subjects, but one of them in particular is upgrading from Google Maps API V2 to V3.

A little over two years ago, we announced that the V2 API was deprecated and V3 was the new production version. The three year deprecation period will be up next May, and the three of us will discuss ways in which developers can move their remaining V2 applications to V3. We’re even starting a new hashtag, #GoV3.

To watch the office hours live, check out our Google+ Page post. As always, the video will be posted to Google+ and YouTube later.

In other news, I stumbled on a couple of open source libraries that might be fun to incorporate into Google Maps API applications.

The first is chronoline.js, which is a library for making a chronology timeline out of events on a horizontal timescale.  It doesn’t have a specific mapping function but would be good for creating time based mapping apps.

The second is also not a mapping app, but allows you to use gamepad controllers in JavaScript. I haven’t tried Gamepad.js, but it looks pretty cool. I’d say it would be particularly useful with the Google Earth API, but might have applications in Street View and Maps as well.

Posted by Mano Marks, Google Maps Developer Relations Team

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Map of the Week: London Calling
Why we like it: This map is a great way to promote a city and share its history. A brilliantly designed UI, that includes info windows with map cutouts. Additionally, it’s an elegant use of Styled Maps.

In honor of a big year for the city of London, the BBC Australia has created “London Calling” as a way to explore and celebrate London. For those of you who know your way around London, there’s a ‘drop-the-pin’ challenge, where users answer geography questions by placing a pin on the map in the right place. If you get stuck with particular questions, there’s also the option to reach out to the “London Calling” team.

For those that just want to explore London, the map is a great way to learn more about the city that has been getting a lot of attention in light of the Queen’s Jubilee and the upcoming 2012 Olympics. There’s even a chance to win prizes just by exploring the map!


From a design standpoint, this map is really great to look at. Two things about this map really stand out to us. Firstly, Styled Maps has been used to add a sepia effect that reflects the rich history of the city of London. Secondly, this is one of the first use cases where we’ve seen a custom info window that includes a cutout to reveal the highlighted feature below. A clever design choice that’s great to look at!


Overall, we’re honored that the Google Maps API was part of the BBC’s efforts to celebrate a great year for London!

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Happy Friday and greetings from the bustling metropolis of Sao Paulo, where Andrés Ferrate and I recently presented at MundoGeo connect. You can check out my slides from yesterday’s session “The Future of Maps?” We had a great time meeting developers from Brazil, and had the chance to see some great Maps API sites.

While here, I published a screencast on the MarkerClusterer utility library, which helps you simplify your maps applications by clustering your markers into larger ones (by the way, the library was developed by my teammate Luke Mahe).


Also while here, Andrés and I held our Google Maps API Office Hours from the Sao Paulo office, where we talked about Epungo, Brazilian real estate site that has an interesting interface. We also discussed some of the topics from my talk on the future of mapping.




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