Tag Archives: Map of the Week

abbyputinski.com — Google Maps with a twist

We love the teamwork behind AbbyPutinski.com, designed by San Francisco illustrator Abby Putinski, and developed by her husband Adam. In this guest blog post, Adam will walk us through how he worked with Abby to give the map a unique, illustrated look, as well as fun-to-use animations.

Abby is a designer and illustrator living in San Francisco. In building her site, Abby wanted to take users on a journey to discover and explore some of her favorite places in San Francisco, in a way that reflected her illustration style. Taking Abby’s design direction into account, I began building the site, working with the Google Maps API to make the visual experience come to life for visitors of the site. The app is powered by Ember.js, so the application template includes a helper to render a MapView. Custom Overlays are used to take users on a journey around San Francisco.

Designing in Reverse 
To make the map feel like an illustration, Abby used the Styled Maps Wizard to play with colors of the map. By using very few colors and disabling most of the roads and landmarks, she was able to give the map a flat, simple look. After exporting the JSON from the Styled Maps Wizard, Abby worked with screenshots of the map to design the rest of the experience.

Some of Abby’s favorite landmarks in San Francisco

The animated GIF in situ on the map as a custom overlay.

Defining a custom overlay 
To create a fullscreen overlay, the bounds are set to the Southwest and Northeast corners.

Positioning the overlay on the map 
The MapView has two child views. The DOM element for a custom overlay actually needs to reside inside the markup generated by Google Maps, but the overlay is an Ember.View so the MapOverlayView is actually rendered as a sibling of the MapCanvas and then moved into the correct spot later.

Keep the overlay centered while panning 
The default behavior for a custom overlay is to re-calculate the styles when the map is panned, but to build an overlay that stays centered on the map, the overlay should only be drawn once and then pan with the map.

Creating the overlay 
Finally, once the overlay has been created and rendered, resolve a promise letting the application know the map is ready.

Final Thoughts 
This project was extremely fun and was successful due to the collaboration between design and development. The Google Maps API gave us the creative freedom to completely customize the map, while Custom Overlays really pulled the experience together.

Posted by Monica Tran, Google Maps API Marketing

Adam and Abby Putinski are a husband and wife design/dev team located in San Francisco. Learn more about their work at abbyputinski.com

Sun Surveyor shines with Street View

In this guest blog post, we hear from Adam Ratana, a hobbyist photographer and software engineer by day, and developer of the Android and iOS Sun Surveyor apps by night. In this tutorial, Adam talks about his creative implementation of custom polylines on Street View panoramas in the Google Maps SDK for iOS.

 As a photography enthusiast, I’m always looking to capture images at the magic hour. My goal when creating Sun Surveyor was to give users an immersive way of visualizing the location of the sun and the moon, making it easy for anyone to figure out when the natural lighting is just right for the perfect shot.

When I set out to build Sun Surveyor, I knew I wanted to give users an easy way of visualizing the location of the sun and the moon. Sun Surveyor has an augmented reality (AR) feature, which overlays sun and moon paths on top of the device camera’s view. This is useful for understanding how light will change over time at a particular location. While I also created a Map View to show the paths on a Google Map for remote locations, it was not as intuitive as augmented reality.

Visualizing the sun and moon paths in augmented reality and map views

When Street View launched in the Google Maps SDK for iOS in v1.4.0 (July, 2013), I couldn’t wait to visualize the sun and moon paths within an interactive panorama. Street View panoramas bridge the gap between Sun Surveyor’s Map View and AR experiences by giving users an augmented reality experience, wherever they want to go.

Sun and moon paths with Street View panoramas

Implementing a sun path Overlay on Street View
I took a creative approach to working with the Google Maps SDK for iOs.  While polylines can be implemented in Map View, this isn’t yet possible in a Street View panorama. To display paths and other items that move with the Street View panorama, I needed to:
  1. Create an overlay on top of the panorama upon which to draw the items
  2. Synchronize the positions of the overlay items with the panorama as it moves
  3. Determine which data are visible and where on the screen to draw them
For this tutorial, I have provided a sample project that will get anyone started doing the same. Let’s walk through the steps.

I. Creating an Overlay

In our main UIViewController, we add a subclass of UIView for the overlay, make its background color transparent, and place the GMSPanoramaView below it in the view hierarchy.

Representing Overlay Items
We represent the overlay items with a protocol having two methods: updateWithPanoramaView and draw. The updateWithPanoramaView method updates an item’s screen location geometry, while draw draws it to the current graphics context.

We store all items to be drawn in a collection, update their positions based on the panorama position, and draw the collection in our view’s standard drawRect method.

If we want to make sure these items are drawn in a certain order that might change based on the data, we can add z-indexes to them and then sort the collection by z-index after we update them and before drawing.

II. Syncing the Overlay with the Panorama
To make sure this overlay view stays updated as the panorama moves beneath it, we can update the view’s data in an implementation of GMSPanoramaViewDelegate’s didMoveCamera method. We can use a CADisplayLink to ensure the overlay view is redrawn at regular intervals, and use a flag to make sure it is only redrawn when necessary.

CoreGraphics can be a bottleneck. [UIBezierPath strokePath] and [NSString drawAtPoint] are expensive as you can see by profiling with Instruments. For performance intensive applications, an alternative is to use OpenGL. Avoiding overdraw is always a good idea, so the first optimization, if needed, is to carefully examine what is being drawn to the screen, and draw only what is necessary.

III. Mapping data to the panorama view
The GMSProjection class has a pointForCoordinate method that returns the screen pixel location for a coordinate on the Map. This is useful for overlaying elements on top of a GMSMapView, and is used in the Sun Surveyor Map View to draw text related to sun and moon paths on top of the Map.

GMSPanoramaView has a similar method, pointForOrientation. This method allows us to query the panorama for a screen pixel location given a GMSOrientation (bearing and pitch tuple) relative to the panorama location, where the camera is stationed, at ground level. This is useful to make sure an item we overlay onto the view remains in the same location relative to the scene, even as the camera moves and the view shifts.

Because the camera has a Field of View that determines what is visible on the screen, some orientations are not visible (such as behind the camera position). pointForOrientation helpfully returns NAN (not a number) for such orientations, so we know the given orientation is not visible.

With sun path data already expressed in terms of orientation relative to the ground level of the viewer, drawing corresponding paths with screen pixel locations is easy. We map our data with pointForOrientation, and draw what is visible by checking the result for NAN.

The sample project uses a panorama of Sydney, Australia, looking west, with a sun path for 12/20/2013.

Bonus: altering the Field of View
Version 1.4.1 of the SDK added support for changing the GMSPanoramaCamera’s field of view (FOV). The field of view determines how much of the scene is visible on a device screen, as well as how much distortion around the edges of the view is present. Smaller values for FOV are the equivalent of having a telephoto lens on a real camera: it brings distant objects closer.

Left: FOV of 60 degrees. Middle: 90 degrees (default). Right: 130 degrees.

Street View Panoramas are awesome and easy
The Street View panorama viewer in the Google Maps SDK for iOS is an example of a great API. The GMSPanoramaView class is simple to understand and use. In the course of a weekend, I was able to deliver a fun, interactive and highly requested feature to Sun Surveyor’s iOS users. I can’t wait to see what people are able to do with this new Street View Panorama feature in my app, and I look forward to seeing all the other implementations that others develop!

Stonehenge, as seen from a Street View panorama in Sun Surveyor

Posted by Monica Tran, Google Maps API

Sun Surveyor visualizes the sun and moon in a variety of ways for photographers, filmmakers, solar industry professionals, architects, homebuyers, gardeners, and anyone needing to predict or understand the movement of the sun and moon.

Adam Ratana is a Carnegie Mellon University graduate living in, and loving, Pittsburgh, PA. He produces dance music as a member of Pittsburgh Track Authority, enjoys photography, traveling with his wife, and writing fun software in his free time. Adam also enjoys attending the Pittsburgh Cocoaheads chapter meetings.

Map of the Week: Orbitz

In today’s guest blog post, we hear from Monika Szymanski and Mike Kelley, of Orbitz' Android engineering team, who recently migrated from version 1 to version 2 of the Google Maps Android API

About Orbitz
Nearly 30% of Orbitz.com hotel bookings are now made via mobile devices, fueled in part by the growth of the Android platform. The recently released 3rd-generation update of the Orbitz - Flights, Hotels, Cars app for Android brings major speed and ease of use improvements along with the latest Android UI design patterns to the app. The Google Maps Android API v2 is also integrated into the hotel search experience. Read on to find out how we did it, with tips and sample code along the way.

Migrating from v1 to v2 of the Google Maps Android API 
While users of the Orbitz.com Android app will notice some changes to the app’s user interface for maps, the changes to our code are more than skin deep. New classes offered in v2 of the Google Maps Android API like MapFragment and SupportMapFragment, the transition from ItemizedOverlays to Markers, and the addition of a well-supported info window pattern have made including a Google Map in an Android app much easier.

Say hello to the 3rd generation of Orbitz - Flights, Hotels, Cars app, using the Google Maps Android API v2

Featuring Fragments 
Prior to the introduction of MapFragment (and SupportMapFragment)  in v2, we had to write a lot of code to manually show/hide the map view in our app. Only one instance of MapView could be created per activity, so we had to be overly clever about persisting that instance in our Activity. Lack of proper Fragment support was a common pain point for developers integrating v1 of the Google Maps Android API in their application.

When Fragment support was added in v2, we essentially rewrote our map code to take advantage of the new features of MapFragment. Let’s start by taking a look at our hotel results Activity layout:

You’ll notice that we’re not including the actual fragment in the layout - we add the Fragment at runtime, because we don’t want to pay the cost of the fragment transaction and add all the markers on the map, unless the user requests it.

You’ll also notice a bit of a hack at the bottom of the layout. In testing, we found that the MapFragment would leave a black box artifact on the screen on certain devices when the user opened our sliding menu navigation. Adding a simple FrameLayout “above” the map seems to fix the problem.

Extending SupportMapFragment makes it much easier to separate the map display logic from our Activity and list fragment. Our SupportMapFragment (and its inner classes) is responsible for:
  • Adding markers representing each available hotel 
  • Customizing the GoogleMap UI options 
  • Centering and animating the map to show the added markers 
  • Showing an info window when a marker is clicked 
  • Launching an Intent to display more details when an info window is clicked 
Next up, we’ll talk about how we add markers to the map and keep memory usage down.

Managing Markers 
One of the challenges in migrating from v1 to v2 of the Google Maps Android API was figuring out the best way to know which hotel’s info to display when a marker is tapped. To solve this, we place each <Marker, Hotel> pair in a HashMap when adding the markers to the Google Map. Later, we can use this HashMap to look up a marker's corresponding hotel info.

The code snippets below illustrate how we do it.

This HashMap allows us to look up the selected hotel in our InfoWindowAdapter, enabling us to display more information about it.

We place quite a few markers on the map for hotel results and each marker can have a different custom image. It's really easy to run out of memory and we were getting quite a few OutOfMemoryExceptions early in development. To manage memory more effectively, we made sure we didn't create a new new Bitmap and BitmapDescriptor for every marker placed on the map. We also ensured that the resources were recycled after we were done with them.

When the user taps a marker, we want to show more information; that’s where info windows come in handy. 

Introducing Info Windows 
Aside from simply viewing the location of all available hotels on a map, users are typically interested in the name and price of the hotel. The architecture for implementing this information window changed considerably from version 1 to version 2 of the Google Maps Android API. 

Before: Info windows in the Google Maps Android API v1
When using v1 of the Google Maps Android API, our app displayed more detailed hotel information in a custom info view when the user tapped on a hotel marker. That custom view displayed the hotel name and price, and triggered a custom animation when the view was added to the screen. This animation made it appear that the view was growing from inside the pin on the map.

We achieved this effect by setting the LayoutParams to MapView.LayoutParams.BOTTOM_CENTER and MapView.LayoutParams.MODE_MAP, which centered the bottom of the custom view on top of the tapped hotel marker.

With the introduction of the Google Maps Android API v2, MapView.LayoutParams.MODE_MAP was removed, so we explored alternative treatments to show the hotel information when the user clicks on a result. For our purposes, the best alternative was to use the new info window interface. 

After: Info windows in the Google Maps Android API v2
Creating an InfoWindowAdapter is pretty straightforward. The API provides two ways to populate the info window; either by supplying the contents of the info window (shown in the default window stylec) or creating a full View. Because we wanted to have a custom window background, loaded from a 9-patch, we opted to build a complete View for the info window by overriding the getInfoContents() method to return null, and by returning a custom View from getInfoWindow().

Here’s a sample of our code:

We could further simplify this code by having our HotelView take a Hotel model as a parameter in the constructor. 

A caveat with info windows is that even though they are populated by the returned View, the info window is not treated like a *live* View object. The system will call the view’s draw() method only once, then use that cached rendering as the user continues to interact with the map. Our existing animation didn’t work in the Google Maps Android API v2, but we decided to be consistent with the platform and remove the animation rather than try to hack around this limitation.

We <3 Google Maps Android API v2
Upgrading from version 1 to version 2 of the Google Maps Android API was virtually painless and fun to do! The introduction of MapFragment helped us separate the map display logic from the rest of the code and made code reuse much easier. Using custom info views was very straightforward with the new info window interface. We look forward to adding even more Google Map features to our app.

Posted by Monica Tran, Maps Developer Marketing

Monika Szymanski is a Lead Engineer on the Android team at Orbitz, where she works on apps that are friendly, fast, and easy to use. In her free time, she enjoys outdoors, running, red wine, and anything chocolate.

Mike Kelley is a Software Engineer at Orbitz, where he works on Android travel tools to help people travel smarter. He's a Michigan grad, transportation and technology enthusiast and craft beer buff. Some of Mike's ideas and projects live online at theelfismike.com.

Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE: OWW) is a leading global online travel company that uses innovative technology to enable leisure and business travelers to search for, plan and book a broad range of travel products and services including airline tickets, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and vacation packages. Orbitz Worldwide owns a portfolio of consumer brands that includes Orbitz, CheapTickets, ebookers, and HotelClub. Also within the Orbitz Worldwide family, Orbitz Partner Network delivers private label travel solutions to a broad range of partners including many of the world's largest airlines, and Orbitz for Business delivers managed corporate travel solutions for corporations.

Interactive Map of the Paris Metro

Interesting Maps API Components used: Geometry Library, KMLLayer, Styled Maps, Polylines, InfoWindows, Symbols, Markers

This week we are featuring a sample app by the French web development house Medusis. They have put together a custom directions application that guides you between Paris metro stations. It is available in both French and English. It is a beautiful app that uses several interesting features of the Maps API, some of which may not be immediately obvious.

The map is centered, naturally, on the city of Paris. The Paris Metro network is shown using a KMLLayer object. That way they can load in a large amount of unchanging data. You’ll also notice that the base map is styled to mute it to emphasize the metro lines, while preserving access to the Google base map data.

To find directions you can either use the drop down boxes in the top left or simply click on the stations. Notice that a couple of things happen. The KMLLayer that loaded the original layers switches to a grayscale KML file, to allow the use of Polylines to emphasize only the routes needed.

Each station also gets an InfoWindow that has the icons of the Metro lines serving that station. Each trip can be made of more than one Metro line. The portion of the line used in a particular trip is highlighted by using a Polyline. Markers for hubs and the origin and destination are highlighted using a Circle Symbol.

The map uses its own algorithm to compute the best route, using our Geometry Library to calculate distances to find the correct route.

This is a great demonstration piece on using the Google Maps API to show custom data. Well done Medusis.

Posted by Mano Marks, Maps Developer Relations Team

Map of the Week: Hill Mapper San Francisco

Map of the Week: Hill Mapper San Francisco

Hill Mapper San Francisco uses the Elevation API to show how steep streets are in San Francisco.

Streets that go uphill, relative to the current location of the marker, are red, and downhill streets are blue. The opacity of the color represents how steep the hill is.

If you drag around the marker, the Polylines change color, as the marker’s elevation changes the relative elevation of the streets.

It’s particularly powerful if you view it with satellite imagery.

If you want to search for a particular location, the search box uses Places Autocomplete to help you find it.

All around, this is a nice, innovative use of our APIs to show off useful information.

Posted by Mano Marks, Maps Developer Relations Team

Map of the Week: Monarch Butterfly Migration Explorer

Why we like it: This is a classic mashup style map, using the Google Maps JavaScript API with the Flickr API to create HeatmapLayers of photos tagged as Monarch Butterflies.

You can see in the 2012 migration season there were many pictures taken of the Monarchs all over and many of them made it up to Canada. And in 2013 that number dropped off considerably, possibly due to the increased use of pesticides.

The map defaults to a satellite map type, but if you click on “Map” it changes to our roadmap map type. You can see the map uses the Google Maps visual refresh.

We really like how this map uses these two APIs to discover and display trends that neither of the APIs were designed to do. We also like the great use of Google Maps for data visualization, and hope we see more from this developer.

Posted by Mano Marks, Maps Developer Relations Team

Map of the Week: Portsmouth History Photo Map

Why we like it: The Portsmouth History Photo Map is a great demonstration of combining old maps and photos with Google Maps.

You start by viewing the 1896 map of Portsmouth on top of a Google Map. The old map is overlayed on top of the Google Map using an ImageMapType.

You can choose to look at standard Google Maps base map by clicking on Modern map, which reverts you to the road map.

The featured markers, such as this one for Charles Dickens, are created using a standard Marker with a custom icon and size.

Instead of the standard InfoWindow, the developer created a Custom Overlay that allows for a more dynamic experience, allowing for a gallery of photos to be displayed in the overlay.

Finally, to control what’s showing on the map, the developer created a custom div that sits on top of the map and controls it with onclick events.

All in all a great custom implementation of our API.

Posted by Mano Marks, Maps Developer Relations Team