Google does it again - with maps

8 Feb 2005 - 10:54am
9 years ago
11 replies
651 reads
Steve Mulder
2004

Once again, Google takes an existing feature set and raises the bar on
interaction. This time it's maps:
http://maps.google.com/

Click-and-drag panning is addictive.

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Steve Mulder
Senior Consultant, User Experience
Molecular.
smulder at molecular.com

Comments

8 Feb 2005 - 11:09am
Dan Saffer
2003

On Feb 8, 2005, at 10:54 AM, Steve Mulder wrote:

>
> http://maps.google.com/
>
> Click-and-drag panning is addictive.

The panning is nice. If only there was more direct manipulation of the
map (zooming in and out specifically) instead of having to use the
controls, that would be cool.

Cooler still would be if the final zoom went down to an A9-style street
level view... Maybe one day. :)

Dan

8 Feb 2005 - 11:31am
DeleteMe
2005

On Tuesday 08 February 2005 12:09 pm, Dan Saffer wrote:
> The panning is nice. If only there was more direct manipulation of the
> map (zooming in and out specifically) instead of having to use the
> controls, that would be cool.

You can -

- Drag the map aound directly with the mouse
- Use the keybaord arrow keys to move the map
- Use Page Up/Down, Home, and End to pan out
- Use the + and - to zoom in / out.

There is no real need to use the controls at all, or even touch your mouse.

> Cooler still would be if the final zoom went down to an A9-style street
> level view... Maybe one day. :)

Don't know what you mean hereby "A9 Street View", but if I zoom al the way in
I get a full street map.

And all this is nothing compared to the other features- check out the driving
directions potion. It is by far the most advanced I have ever seen for a
mapping site. Clicking on any of the Turn-By-Turn steps adds an info bubble
to the map with a zoomed in look at that area.

Also, you can enter any random search term, and it will use Google Local to
find those items in the area, and add info bubbles to the map!

You really need to play with this site for a bit to see all it has to offer.

--
If you wait by the river long enough, eventually
you will see the bodies of all your enemies float by.
- Sun Tzu

8 Feb 2005 - 1:32pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Feb 8, 2005, at 11:31 AM, Jason Keirstead wrote:

> You can -
>
> - Drag the map aound directly with the mouse
> - Use the keybaord arrow keys to move the map
> - Use Page Up/Down, Home, and End to pan out
> - Use the + and - to zoom in / out.
>
> There is no real need to use the controls at all, or even touch your
> mouse.

This might be a matter of preference. I like being able to directly
manipulate the content I'm working with without moving to a control
panel or keystrokes. Yes, they are useful for certain activities, but
is it easier to click with a mouse on an area to zoom in on it, or to
use the arrow keys?

>
>> Cooler still would be if the final zoom went down to an A9-style
>> street
>> level view... Maybe one day. :)
>
> Don't know what you mean hereby "A9 Street View", but if I zoom al the
> way in
> I get a full street map.

Play with

http://a9.com/optical?a=oyp or, say,

http://www.amazon.com/gp/yp/B0004BOLPK/104-9668639
-2715935?%5Fencoding=UTF8&n=3999241&ref=sr%5F35%5F9&qid=1106908623&sr=35
-9

and you'll see. It shows street-level snapshots of the actual buildings.

>
> And all this is nothing compared to the other features- check out the
> driving
> directions potion. It is by far the most advanced I have ever seen for
> a
> mapping site. Clicking on any of the Turn-By-Turn steps adds an info
> bubble
> to the map with a zoomed in look at that area.

It's certainly well done; don't get me wrong.

Dan

8 Feb 2005 - 3:12pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

I like it!

I was very impressed with being able to click on the turns and see the
detail. I did find myself wanting to see a little more area on couple of
them.

I was most impressed with the directions it gave to my house. It didn't
keep the driver on the numbered streets as long as possible, the way Yahoo
and Mapquest do, but sent me the way I go myself. (*Almost* the same way,
that is. My variation is about 50 yards longer but allows me to park on
my side of the street.)

I do agree with Dan, though -- I wanted a way to zoom in on a specific
point on the map. What I had to do was change the zoom and then pan the
map to where I wanted it.

Also, it's too big (they're assuming very high res!), and I would prefer
to have at least three options for map size.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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8 Feb 2005 - 3:45pm
DeleteMe
2005

On Tuesday 08 February 2005 4:12 pm, Elizabeth Buie wrote:
> Also, it's too big (they're assuming very high res!), and I would prefer
> to have at least three options for map size.

The map's size and resolution is dynamic, it changes along with your browser
window, and the site does not load non-visible map portions. Therefore, you
can make it any size you prefer. If you make the window smaller, the map is
smaller, and loads faster.

This whole site is very sophisticated. Remember, there is no Flash or ActiveX
or other native code here - it is all done with JavaScript, DHTML, and image
map magic.

--
If you wait by the river long enough, eventually
you will see the bodies of all your enemies float by.
- Sun Tzu

8 Feb 2005 - 3:47pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Jason wrote:

<<The map's size and resolution is dynamic, it changes along with your
browser
window,>>

Then why did it cause a horizontal scroll bar to appear in my browser?
Very frustrating!

I wonder if maybe it changes along with my *screen* resolution...?

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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8 Feb 2005 - 5:00pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

Jason Keirstead wrote:

> This whole site is very sophisticated. Remember, there is no Flash or ActiveX
> or other native code here - it is all done with JavaScript, DHTML, and image
> map magic.

Just imagine where they could take this product if they did build a more
robust client for it.

And so people don't dismiss that notion out of hand... One doesn't
consider dropping the web browser version obviously, but scale the
product offering. It can start at the high-end with a robust client app
that has richer printing and presentation interfaces for things like
driving directions, map sharing and collaborative map tasks. Then it can
have a thin-client that really doesn't require an installable download
as the content is coming from the web so the app loads really fast for
the purpose of adding slightly more robust desktop experiences without
going the full download approach. And finally it has the version you see
currently inside the context of a web browser and is the baseline user
experience.

Why on earth would Google want to do that? Well, for one, a real
client/thin client app could be designed so it works optimally either
inside a normal computer environment, on a mobile device or inside a car
as an on-board navigation system. If planned and executed properly with
an eye towards as much interface consistency as possible while
exploiting the benefits of device its used on (a mouse and keyboard for
computers, a stylus for PDA users, the driving wheel and fingers in a
car, keypads on phones, etc.), Google can design the interface for this
product that creates a more consistent experience through all various
touch-points one needs to use maps.

And that just feeds back into the brand and can help create more
business. If done right, it would also be an example of great design
across a variety of systems and contexts.

If designers want to help business and be more core to the critical
decision making process, I'm of the opinion we need to make sure we
drive product design discussions in this fashion, not just point out how
cool something is because it was done with only DHMTL, image maps and
JavaScript inside a browser framework that in all honesty was not wasn't
designed for such a task. (Not that you are Jason, but your message
seemed like a good opportunity to make a side point.) One of my first
managers at Adobe wrote the HalfBrain spreadsheet application back in
1999 when no one was doing that sort of thing at all. It was
extraordinarily cool, but in the end people saw it was just a
spreadsheet application. The question became how would they use it.

One thing I do love about the product... Thank goodness they use clean
map graphics. It still annoys me to no end how other companies have
gotten away with such crap graphics for so long.

Andrei

8 Feb 2005 - 8:11pm
DeleteMe
2005

On February 8, 2005 04:47 pm, you wrote:
> Jason wrote:
>
> <<The map's size and resolution is dynamic, it changes along with your
> browser
> window,>>

I don't know. When I expand / shrink the window, I never get a scrollbar. And
changing the window size causes the map to re-load at a different resolution.

I am testing with Firefox.

--
Jason Keirstead
http://www.keirstead.org

8 Feb 2005 - 8:19pm
Manu Sharma
2003

Andrei:
"Just imagine where they could take this product if they did build a
more robust client for it."

Google does have such an app.

Late last year Google acquired Keyhole* which does most of the things
you describe. The kind of detail/ animation that Keyhole provides is
mind boggling.

But I guess they do understand its limitations as well and therefore
the browser version.

Manu.

* http://keyhole.com/

9 Feb 2005 - 5:20pm
Anirudha Joshi
2003

Noah Mittman>
For kicks, I decided to "fly" west from my home in Brooklyn (start at
decent height above street level and hold down the left arrow), but by
the time I got bored I hadn't even made it out of New Jersey.

Reminds me of a nice project called the Drift Table I saw in CHI last
year. Here is a link:
http://www.equator.ac.uk/Challenges/Devices/Drift%20Table.htm

Anirudha Joshi

9 Feb 2005 - 9:45am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Jason Keirstead wrote:

<<When I expand / shrink the window, I never get a scrollbar.>>

The horizontal scroll bar is there for me regardless of how much I
expand/shrink the window.

<<And changing the window size causes the map to re-load at a different
resolution.>>

Yes, for me too. But the scroll bar stays.

Netscape 7.2, Mac OS X 10.3.7

Elizabeth

--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This is a PRIVATE message. If you are not the intended recipient, please
delete without copying and kindly advise us by e-mail of the mistake in
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bind CSC to any order or other contract unless pursuant to explicit
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