Is Google Maps the best way to do this?
March 11, 2013 8:08 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to link different locations in an online map to PDF's hosted on our website. Is Google Maps the best way? What do I need to learn to be able to do this?

We have several cultural surveys & guides about many different historic structures in our community. Ultimately I'd like an online map of these places with markers by them, which when you click on the marker, would give you the option to open up the survey (PDF).

I am new to doing anything with Google Maps besides viewing them, and don't even know if this is the best way to do this?...AutoCAD?
posted by dukes909 to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Would OpenStreetMap and Leaflet work for you? I'm not sure you're allowed to embed Google Maps in PDFs. With OpenStreetMap, as long as you give proper attribution, you can do pretty much anything.
posted by stereo at 8:28 AM on March 11, 2013

Do you actually need the zoom in/zoom out/pan around features of Google Maps? Because if not you could just use an image of a map and normal hyperlinks.
posted by XMLicious at 8:45 AM on March 11, 2013

Response by poster: I thought about a static image of a map but there are more than 500 site surveys to be included. I would think if I went this route I'd have to use at least 4 or 5 maps to get the granularity of being able to see every location.
posted by dukes909 at 8:50 AM on March 11, 2013

Best answer: There are many, many ways to do this, most of them involving writing a little Javascript code. But that's probably more work than you want to do. A simpler thing would be to use Google My Maps or Google Fusion Tables to take a simple list or spreadsheet of lat/lon pairs along with URLs and put them on a map. Another option would be to use Google Earth as a visual editor to produce a KML file, then link people to a Google Map displaying that KML file.

I'm sorry I don't have a link to a tutorial for any of these methods, but with a bit of searching on those keywords you should find they are well documented.
posted by Nelson at 8:56 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'd do this with a KML file overlaid on Google Maps. I generally do this using the OpenLayers JavaScript mapping library. If you publish this as a KML, people can double-click on it to open in Google Earth, you can overlay it on your favorite map system, or whatever.

Here's one of my early tests on displaying KML files using OpenLayers, note that on that page you can show it on OpenStreetMap or Google Maps tiles. Feel free to copy and paste JavaScript from "view source" as necessary.

You can look at the KML file directly, and probably just use that as boiler-plate to copy and paste stuff in to, and if you put the URL of a KML file into Google Maps, you get it displayed on the Google Maps page.

For instance, here's that KML file displayed in Google Maps itself.
posted by straw at 8:59 AM on March 11, 2013

Response by poster: It looks like there is a 1,000 feature limit in Google MyMaps...if I ended up going over 1,000 is there a way to export the information to another format?
posted by dukes909 at 9:19 AM on March 11, 2013

MIT's SIMILE 3.0 javascript framework looks like it does maps with either Google Maps or OpenLayers.
posted by XMLicious at 9:41 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you have over 1000 features it gets a bit more complicated; the server wants to break the data up so it doesn't send all 99,999 features (or once) to the viewer, just the ones that are on the map at the moment. It's easy to code this kind of thing up in Javascript (I'd use Leaflet or the Google Maps API), but I'm not sure if there's an off-the-shelf tool to do this for you. Fusion Tables might.
posted by Nelson at 10:23 AM on March 11, 2013

I'd note that I've had some experiments where I accidentally ended up with 70-80 thousand features in a Google Map using OpenLayers, and it dogs quite a bit, but I think I decided that limiting to ten or twenty thousand was still in the "you asked for it, so here ya go" territory. Also that performance was quite different between Firefox and Chrome, and that hardware and JavaScript interpreters are only getting faster...
posted by straw at 10:30 AM on March 11, 2013

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