Hacking Google Maps

A new book in the popular O’Reilly “Hacks” series shows you how to find and create your own mashups, overlaying all kinds of interesting information on Google maps.

Google Maps Hacks, by Rich Gibson and Schuyler Erle, provides one of the best resources I’ve seen if you’re interested in thoroughly exploring the rich features available with Google maps.

Like the other books in O’Reilly’s Hacks series, this book offers up seventy “hacks” that range from descriptions of features or websites, to detailed scripts that require more than a passing understanding of programming to make sense.

The book begins with an overview of Google maps, illustrating all of the features and capabilities that are comparatively easy for anyone to use. Want to bookmark a map, send it in an email, or even put it on your own web site? The instructions are here.

The real fun begins with a discussion of the Google Maps API (application program interface), a free set of tools that Google has made available for anyone to use to combine Google maps with just about any type of content or information imaginable.

While these hacks assume a certain knowledge of JavaScript programming, many also are fully implemented on the web, allowing you to simply visit and play around with them without having to do the heavy lifting yourself.

Some examples:

These are just a few of the many examples that are fully functioning mashups that have well-documented code so you can peek under the hood and see how they actually work.

In addition to creating interesting mashups combining Google maps with other sources of online web pages, a number of hacks show you how to integrate Google maps with other web services. For example, if you’re a photographer, several hacks show you how to geotag your photos on Flickr, browse your photos by shooting location, or even set up a guided tour of your own community.

The last part of the book is designed for readers with both programming skill and the interest in really pushing the Google Maps API to extremes. That said, it’s very well written, so even if your eyes glaze over while reading code, seeing what’s possible with a bit of creativity and elbow grease makes for fascinating reading.

If you like using Google Maps and want to a relatively easy way to get more out of the service, Google Maps Hacks makes an excellent addition to your searching library.

Google Maps Hacks
by Rich Gibson and Schuyler Erle
O’Reilly, $29.99
ISBN: 0-596-10161-9

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