More Developer Interaction Touted For Google Maps

Freelance Technology Reporter for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

Developers now have the ability to better interact with Google Maps thanks to a new map layer

Google Maps has been updated to include a new maps layer for developers, in order so they can better integrate their data with images in Google Maps.

The innovative DynamicMapsEngineLayer gives developers the abilities to perform client-side rendering of vector data, allowing developers to dynamically restyle the vector layer in response to user interactions like hover and click, according to Jen Kovnats, product manager for the Google Maps API, in a 26 June post on the Google Geo Developers Blog. The new maps layer makes it easier for developers to visualize and interact with data hosted in Google Maps Engine, she wrote.

Maps Integration

“Organisations around the world use Google Maps Engine to host their geospatial data: ecological records used in the fight against habitat destruction, census income and age distributions, and up-to-date store locations and hours,” wrote Kovnats. “Much of this data is available for public consumption.”

Google Maps iOS iPhone LondonThat abundance of information and the need to be able to integrate it into Maps more easily was the reason for the development of the new experimental layer, she wrote.

“To get started making your own maps, check out our developer documentation for DynamicMapsEngineLayer and find public datasets hosted by Maps Engine that interest you in our gallery (if there is a ‘Maps API code’ link below a map, click it and copy the code snippets shown),” wrote Kovnats. “For a deeper dive, also take a look at the Google Maps Engine API, a RESTful web services API that allows developers to read and write data stored in Google Maps Engine, and learn about querying public datasets.”

The MapsEngineLayer and DynamicMapsEngineLayer replace the soon-to-be-removed MapDataLayer, according to Google’s documentation. The MapDataLayer will be removed from the release version of the API on 15 August 2013. “The Google Maps visualisation library provides access to the MapsEngineLayer and DynamicMapsEngineLayer classes, allowing you to import Google Maps Engine vector data into your Google Maps JavaScript API v3 applications,” the documentation states. “These classes give you the power to visualize and interact with Google Maps Engine data that you own, that has been shared with you, or that is public.”

API Engine

In June, Google for the first time released its Google Maps Engine API to developers so they can build consumer and business applications that incorporate the features and flexibility of Google Maps. With the Maps API, developers can now use Google’s cloud infrastructure to add their data on top of a Google Map and share that custom mash-up with consumers, employees or other users. The API provides direct access to Maps Engine for reading and editing spatial data hosted in the cloud, according to Google.

Google unveiled innovative updates for Google Maps at its annual Google I/O Developers Conference in May, including a more interactive look and feel for Maps. The new Google Maps takes a novel approach to how people use online and mobile maps, gaining the ability to instantly respond to user inputs, making recommendations on places to visit and highlighting information that matters most during a map inquiry. The new generation of the Maps service essentially creates maps that are unique to each user and his or her needs, based on the input from the user.

With the new Maps features, users can also now uncover the best local destinations of all types, with detailed labels popping up that provide brief place descriptions and icons that highlight business categories and other useful information, such as which restaurants are recommended by your Google+ friends. The revamped Maps also feature images of destinations more prominently for users, as well as presenting improved directions and tours generated from user-submitted photos.

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Originally published on eWeek.