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5 Ways to take your map mashups to the next level

Quick ways to create a online map mashup have already been covered here, but as online maps become more sophisticated, so are the tools used to create them. The following are free tools that have additional functionality beyond point-and-click mapping, but are still relatively easy to use.

UMapper

UMapper has some unique and outstanding features beyond the ability to embed custom Flash-based maps. Map makers can create a GeoDart game in which the user is tasked with pointing to a specific location on a map or use the site to create a map wiki that anyone can edit or share. One of UMapper’s more interesting features is the ability to extract geocoded locations from a block of text or web address. For example, by inputting the URL of the Washington Post’s travel page, UMapper instantly created the map below of all the places mentioned on the site.

Vidmap

Vidmap, previously mentioned here, lets users create maps that work in tandem with online video, displaying the location that appears in the video on an adjacent dynamic map.

The process to create a map is surprisingly easy: upload a video to Vidmap or use one already hosted on YouTube and click the map to create drag and drop markers. The result is a map that has an added layer of dimensionality and visual interest.

Batch Geocode

One of the seemingly daunting tasks about creating a map mashup is plotting a large list of addresses on a map. You could save an Excel spreadsheet as a CSV file and import it into any of the online tools that accept the data format…or you could just let Batch Geocode do the work for you. Simply copy and paste your addresses into the site, make a few selections and in seconds the site will list the latitude and longitude coordinates, which can then be imported into a spreadsheet. The site even maps the addresses/coordinates for you in a linkable map.

MapBuilder

The great thing about MapBuilder is that while the site can be used to easily create a map in minutes, it’s also able to create extraordinarily complex maps that are no more difficult to create. Markers can include text, photos, video, links and HTML, which can be create using the site’s a user-friendly interface. Because the finished product is exported as an HTML/CSS file, the more tech-minded can add customized markers are change the entire look and style of the map by just tweaking a few lines of code.

Several 10,000 Words maps, including “U.S. Newspapers pick the president” were built with MapBuilder.

CloudMade

Developers looking for even more customization and flexibility should consider CloudMade, which can be used to create simple to turn-by-turn directions to complex web and mobile applications backed by programming languages such as Java, Python and Ruby. As an added bonus, designers who are tired of the same old maps available from Google Maps and Yahoo Maps, can choose from a wide range of map designs that are easy on the eyes.


Also on 10,000 Words:

5 Ways to create a Google Map in minutes

8 Beautifully Designed Maps

Explore the Earth with online maps

10 Mind-blowing maps (and 3 ways to create them)

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