Plotting the photos from your latest trip on a map used to be a chore, until now.
Many of us enjoy sharing experiences and photographs from our travels with our family, friends, and colleagues. A map can provide a better sense of a trip or experience by showing how the images are related both to each other and to the world. Yet it has always been a challenge to share our photographs on an actual map.
93 Photo Street is a novel photo-mapping tool from Transmutable that helps you to tell your story with maps. It makes publishing maps with photographs about as easy as publishing to your blog, by offering a completely menu-driven, drag-and-drop user interface for building and publishing maps to the Web, as well as a programmer API for those users who want to do more.
As of this writing, it can be downloaded for Windows 2000, XP, or Mac OS X 10.3 or higher for free under a Creative Commons license. You can find it on Transmutable's web site at http://transmutable.com/93PhotoStreet/.
The process of using 93 Photo Street is straightforward. The first step is to find a map to use as a backdrop. 93 Photo Street supports two kinds of maps. It supports detailed, although plain, street maps of the United States (using maps provided online by the U.S. Census "Tiger" project), and it supports using images, allowing you to pick any image file and use it as a backdrop.
In this case, I'd like to share my pictures from a vacation in Hawaii. Using a search engine, I can find a number of excellent base maps of Hawaii:
By saving one of the maps from these searches to my computer, I can import it into 93 Photo Street using the "Map Import Map Image menu item.
Next I open up my collection of photographs and drag my favorite photos from that vacation into 93 Photo Street. The photos then end up in a tray at the bottom of the screen. Although there is a File menu option to load photographs, I prefer to just drag and drop. Figure 1-17 shows a screenshot of this process.
Figure 1-17. Adding photographs to 93 Photo Street
The next step is to set the placement of these photographs. First, you place "pins" on the map indicating where photographs can go, and then you drag each photograph from your tray onto the map. The final result is a collection of photographs pinned to the map at the chosen locations.
The last step is to publish your map. There are two ways to do this. You can just ask 93 Photo Street to build the site locally. Select the menu option "Build images/ent/U2192.GIF border=0> Build with Velocity Templates" to choose from one of the default presentation templates. Figure 1-18 illustrates the process of selecting a presentation template. 93 Photo Street will make an index.html file, associate the images and the map together, and put them all on disk under Documents and Settings93 Photo StreetSites.
Figure 1-18. Selecting a presentation template in 93 Photo Street
Alternatively, you can ask 93 Photo Street to publish the site to your blog automatically. Your blog must support TypePad or MoveableType interfaces, and you will need to have a valid Atom password (often displayed in the personal preferences area of your blog). You may also wish to go to http://www.typekey.com/ to give yourself a globally valid TypeKey, simply for completeness.
As you can see, it would be hard to make an interface that was easier to use than 93 Photo Streetbut wait, there's more! There is an open API for developers to extend the service, including:
The templating system and the publisher SDK are particularly useful together in incorporating map sources that are not freely available for commercial providers. This opens the possibility of merging photo maps with satellite weather images or USGS earthquake maps or any of the other map services on the Web.
Overall the product makes publishing photo maps to the Web "easy enough" that more people may actually do it. Technically an individual could cobble together her own solution, but the ease, convenience, and openness of this tool make it an appealing choice. See [Hack #10] and [Hack #96] for other methods to add photos to a map.