Hack 4. Get the Bird's-Eye View
Maps are good, but a picture is worth…
Maps show what the mapmaker chooses to show. Google Maps, like most of the online map services, shows maps that are designed primarily for getting around in a car. In America, we
One neat feature of Google Maps is the ability to flip between viewing a map and viewing satellite imagery. In Figure 1-8 we see a map of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, with an odd little shape
Figure 1-8. Upper West Side Manhattan
The aerial view in Figure 1-9 provides a lot more context! You can see the
Figure 1-9. Aerial view of the Upper West Side and the 79th Street Boat Basin
The satellite imagery's level of detail varies by where you're looking; some places have much more detail than others.
1.5.1. Is It Really There?
You can use the aerial imagery as a
Figure 1-10. Looking for cheese in all the wrong places
To visit Rouge et Noir Cheese Factory (http://www.marinfrenchcheese.com/), you could click on the link on the right side in the list of results, zoom in a bit, and flip to satellite view to get the view in Figure 1-11.
Where's the cheese? It doesn't look like it is there. Could it be in that circular compound on the right-hand side? Maybe, except I happen to know that this isn't the case. It seems that there's a disconnect between databases at Google. The business listing for Rouge et Noir puts it at 7500 Red Hill Road, Petaluma, CA 94952, but the map pointer is 4.5 miles northeast. Of course, this is beta software!
Entering the address, rather than the business
Figure 1-11. Cheeseless in Marin
Figure 1-12. Thar be cheese!
1.5.2. Hybrid Vigor
Now, as if that weren't enough, Google has added a Hybrid mode to Google Maps. The Hybrid mode takes a version of the original street map tiles with transparent backgrounds, and then lays them over the satellite tiles. The result is pretty fantastic, as you can see from Figure 1-13, making it much easier to identify what's being shown in the satellite image.
Figure 1-13. Manhattan's Upper West Side, in Hybrid mode
The ability to flip between maps and satellite imagery is amazingly cool, and is just a hint of what (I assume) is coming. There is plenty of room
What could Google add? How about a link to terrain or elevation data? Or a current weather overlay? Thanks, Google, may I have another?
The KML Handbook: Geographic Visualization for the Web
Beginning Google Maps Mashups with Mapplets, KML, and GeoRSS: From Novice to Professional (Expert's Voice in Web Development)
Beginning Google Maps API 3 (Expert's Voice in Web Development)
Map Scripting 101: An Example-Driven Guide to Building Interactive Maps with Bing, Yahoo!, and Google Maps