It's been bouncing around the net, but if you haven't seen it, you need to go check out Google Maps. I am, frankly, in awe of this software. Their user interface is incredible. You can switch back and forth between map view---which is already better than mapquest or any print media out there---and satellite view, which for major metro areas is of sufficiently high resolution that you'll be able to see your car in your driveway.
But, this user interface! First of all, it's drawn well and antialiased, which makes it a helluva lot easier to read. It includes neither too many roads and town names nor too few; zooming in will show you more. Movement can be accomplished by arrow keys or by dragging a location from where it is to where you want it; double-clicking puts it in the middle. All of this is as responsive as dragging a window around your desktop. Rather than a flat star to mark the location in question (and obscuring it), it draws a "pin" that only intrudes by a few pixels at the location, with its head further up (and casting a shadow). There is a little speech balloon also, which prints the address and has links to get directions for it. The directions dialog goes within this balloon, without jarring you out into a different page.
Then, it shows the path with a blue line on the map (which has no other blue features). The map remains zoomable, so you can move around and see the questionable areas. And even while you're in directions mode, you can switch to the satellite view, zoomed in as close as you want, to see what the actual roads look like, still with the blue line showing you the route. And you can click on either endpoint pin to get a speech bubble with a zoomed-in map of just that part, while the main map stays zoomed out. And the zoomed map in the speech bubble can switch between map and satellite view, and zoom in and out, independently of the main window.
Google is like a case study in what to do right. I hope they stay good.
"I am happy, and you should be as well. Let us pray together with joy." --Pope John Paul II, on his deathbedPosted by blahedo at 2:12pm on 5 Apr 2005 | TrackBack