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The Google Maps Problem

As you might be aware from reading my travel site, Google maps did an update and it broke a lot of embedded maps. Major features were lost, and Google maps was never that great to begin with.

Let me explain.

I used Google maps for years. I had all the Thai Travel places listed, and embedding a view onto the map with the relevent place selected. Google maps was the best of a bad bunch. I could add multiple places, and embed a view onto the map with one place highlighted, but the view would have badly chosen zoom.

I've simulated what it use to be like:

google-maps-old-simulated.gif

Not perfect, but at least you could point to a place and say 'here it is'. Which is surely what maps are about! Pointing to a place and saying 'here it is'!

With the new maps update, this is what the user sees:

Google-maps-new.gif

How are they supposed to know which point on the map is the one I am referring to? Google have lost the "here it is" functionality! The cornerstone of any map!

Ideally the view onto the map would be chosen with more intelligence, or done per embedded map. So that a better view could be chosen. Something like this:

google-as-it-should-be.jpg

The user can always zoom out with this view and see the bigger picture, but the way Google has it now, they cannot zoom in, because they don't know which point to zoom into.

Below is the new maps editor. You get to it by clicking on the search bar, a hint drops down saying 'My Maps', which you click. In other words they hid the feature. Why? To then edit this map, you click 'Go to Original Map'. Why is it not called edit? Its like they want to remove this feature and are making it difficult for people to get to.

plot-lost-here.gif

So now suppose I add a map location, selected as above, and embed the map onto my site. I add the point, by click on the map while in the point-adding-mode. So which mode am I in now?:

which-mode.gif

That slightly darker marker might mean I'm in point-adding-mode? Well lets select a different mode, which mode am I in now?

which-mode-2.gif

I could be in the 'hand' mode, or I could be in one of the line add, or area add modes. The only thing I'm sure of, is that I'm not in point-adding-mode. Unless I take screen shots of each and then compare them to spot the subtle difference, this highlight method is useless to me.

Next I enter the description. A few paragraphs explaining what is here at this location. I notice is that we've lost the ability to add line breaks to the text. Pressing the enter key takes us out of edit rather than start a new line. So now a few paragraphs become 1 paragraph! Why the limitation?

I see we've also lost the ability to add rich text. Now the URL gets pasted into the text itself, well that's annoying but liveable.

So lets embed this map. I click 'share', is the option there? No. It's hidden under the ... menu as 'Embed on my site', Sharing is only passing a link now.

The end result of that work, to recap I embedded a map location to Google's HQ, can you see it?:

1 map has only 1 view onto it. So either I create separate 200 maps for separate 200 places, or 1 map which the user cannot see the selected place.

At the bottom a link says 'Switch to Maps.google.com here', I click this, it does not take me to maps.google.com.

I select 'switch back to classic maps', and then the link that says 'always' to make it permanent. Yet when I return, the new maps is back, and the new maps are still embedded on my site no matter what.

I select 'general feedback' to explain this to Google, it asks me to provide my password again, and then does nothing. Each time asking me to provide my password, but never letting me complain.

Things are not going well in Google.

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