Hack 51. Make a Fullscreen Map the Right Way

Map too big? Map too small? Flex those pixels into shape!

Imagine you're the proud new owner of a big, shiny 21-inch flat-panel display, and you surf to your favorite Google Maps web siteonly to find it still confines you to a tiny little 3-inch-square map. It's an embarrassment, to say the least. Likewise, think about those poor fellows with small monitors who are scrolling until their fingers fall off to get around your gigantic 1600 x 1200pixel map. Such sites ought to come with warning labels about claustrophobia.

A good Google Map stretches itself to fit comfortably on your screen. In this hack we'll investigate a simple two-step approach to make your map always take up the whole window, then build on the technique to include a fixed right-side panel, similar to the maps.google.com web site. We'll also point out some tricks to help you avoid common pitfalls that unsuspecting web developers stumble into when trying to make auto-sizing maps.

6.2.1. Making a Map Take Up the Full Screen

The first step is to include the following style declaration in the head section of your page. If your map div is named something other than map, you'll need to replace #map with the appropriate name (e.g., #mymap).


The width and height declarations cause the map container to fill the entire document body, and the body to take up all the available window space. Make sure you don't have any inline width or height attributes on your map element that could override these. The overflow:hidden line hides any scrollbars the browser would otherwise display, and the margin and padding lines get rid of the white border that is shown by default around a document. This leaves us with a map container that stretches to fit all the available window space in the browser (minus that reserved for the toolbars, status bar, etc.).

The Google map automatically takes up this whole container when you instantiate it, and most web developers stop here, thinking all is well. However, somewhat less obvious is the fact that the map doesn't detect when its container has been resizedat least, not as of version 1 of the API. Resizing a map that isn't aware when its container size changes can produce some misleading effects, which you can see by going to http://www.googlemappers.com/articles/fullscreenmap/bad.htm.

When you enlarge the browser window, you'll see more of the map revealed and might be tempted to think it is stretching to fit your window. But what you are actually seeing is the "off-screen" portion of the mapsurrounding tiles that have been preloaded, but aren't supposed to be showing on your screen.

If you open the web page in a very small browser window and then enlarge it enough, you'll run out of off-screen tiles and will start to see the gray background shown in Figure 6-1. Additionally, double-clicking the map will make it pan the point you clicked to the old center of the window, based on its dimensions at the time it was created.

Figure 6-1. A full-screen map done the wrong way

To make your map resize and re-center properly, you need to let it know when its container has resized. To do this, we make use of an undocumented Google Maps API method called map.onResize(), calling it whenever the window dimensions change. Include the following JavaScript code, after you create your map object:

	if (window.attachEvent) {
	 window.attachEvent("onresize", function( ) {this.map.onResize( )} );
	 window.attachEvent("onload", function( ) {this.map.onResize( )} );
	} else if (window.addEventListener) {
	 function( ) {this.map.onResize( )} , false);
	 window.addEventListener("load", function( ) {this.map.onResize( )} ,

This is the final step needed to obtain a properly working fullscreen map. You can see the complete implementation of these two code snippets at http://www.googlemappers.com/articles/fullscreenmap/default.htm. You may want to check there for the most up-to-date example of the fullscreen map.

6.2.2. Adding a Side Panel to the Map

It's easy to add a fixed-width panel alongside an auto-sizing map. Here we show the code needed for a fullscreen map with a panel 300 pixels wide docked to the right side of the screen.

Replace the style declaration used in the head section with the following one:


The map's right margin is set to the width of the panel, plus another 2 pixels to account for its left border. The overflow:auto attribute in the right panel causes it to show scrollbars if the content is too big to fit in the panel. The border and padding are added just to make things look cleaner.

It's important that the padding-top and padding-bottom attributes for the right panel be 0px, or the panel's scrollbar will extend underneath the window's status bar, as shown in Figure 6-2. This has to do with a bottom margin the Google Map API internals add below the map, which unintentionally makes the browser think the window content extends slightly below the screen.

Finally, in the body section declare your side panel right after your map div.


Figure 6-2. The unfortunate effects of including top and bottom side panel padding

That's all there is to it! You can fill the side panel with any information you'd like. You can see an up-to-date example at http://www.googlemappers.com/articles/sidepanel/default.htm, which is depicted in Figure 6-3.

Figure 6-3. A properly configured side panel

Richard Kagerer

Google Maps Hacks
Google Maps Hacks: Tips & Tools for Geographic Searching and Remixing
ISBN: 0596101619
EAN: 2147483647
Year: N/A
Pages: 131
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