Author Topic: Google Mapping - basic lesson, tips, tricks and suggestions  (Read 1779 times)

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Offline OldSchool_IsCool

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Google Mapping - basic lesson, tips, tricks and suggestions
« on: March 27, 2011, 05:43:02 am »
I use Google Maps to generate planning maps to help keep riders up to date as routes, photo ops, places to eat and sleep change.  This topic is intended to offer up a basic lesson on how to make and publish such maps using Google Maps.  Please feel free to add your tips, tricks and suggestions about using Google Maps here.  If you use another mapping tool, GREAT!  But please, let's keep this thread focused on Google Maps.

The Basics:

Step one is to create a Google account if you don't have one already.  It's free - just needs a valid email address.  Look for the "Create" or "Sign In" link in the upper right of this web address:

Once your account is created, up will come a display similar to the Google Maps you have come to know and maybe even love.  Notice on the left that there is a "My Maps" link.  click that.

Now click "Create New Map"

The map won't change, but notice that there are three tools at the top now.  A hand, a placemarker and a line draw tool.  

Hand:  Use the hand to move the map around

Placemark: Click this tool and your mouse will turn into a pin.  Drop the pin wherever you want by clicking on the map.  Use the pop-up dialog to give the pin a title and description.  If you click on the pin's icon (upper right of dialog) you can change the pin's shape using the options provided.  You can click on the placemark and drag it around if you want it placed somewhere else

Line draw: There are three options under this tool.  By clicking on the down-arrow next to the tool, you'll see the three options.
 - lines: used to make straight lines between points A and B
 - follow Roads: Use roads to drive from A to B (more on this in a sec)
 - Shape draw: Use this to shade in an area to highlight it.

Follow Roads:  This is prolly the tool you will use the most.  What I do is first decide on my Point A and Point B.  I typically choose the day's starting point and draw to the next overnight.  Select the Follow Roads tool and draw that line by clicking on A and ending it with a double-click on B.  Don't worry that it favors highways and such, we'll fix that in a minute. Label the route, give it a description and click the icon to change its color, thickness and opacity (see through shading).

To bend the route to the roads of your liking, simply place your mouse on the section of road you want to move and drag it to where you want.  It's a bit tricky and takes some practice, but you'll soon master it.  Zoom in and work on small segments one at a time.  Notice that it keeps track of the total distance as you go.  Handy it you want to maybe include a photo op and need to know if you are within your daily mile budget.

Now that you have your map, or are at a point that you want to put it away for a bit, click on the "Done" button on the right side of the map.  This will save your map for future edits and/or publishing.  Click "My Maps" and notice that your new map is now listed in your map list.

Time to make changes?  From your map list, click on the map you want to work with,  Now click "Edit".  This will bring you back to your map and you can add, delete and change the map as you wish!  

Making it pretty: Notice that as you have been adding placemarks, routes, lines and shapes that a list has been building over on the left.  If you want to change the order of that list, while in EDIT mode, simply drag the label up or down into the position you want.  Scale the map to the size you wish.  Usually this means getting point A and point B on the screen with not much boarder.  Click on Done.  

Ready to publish?  Over on the right at the top of the map is a small menu bar.  You can print, send or generate a link to your map.  When wanting to drop a link into a SOHC4 forum post, click on "Link".  Two URLs will be displayed.  I typically copy the top one (starts with http) and paste that into the post.

You can now edit your map as ideas for routes, photo ops, places to eat or sleep come in.  No need to re-publish your map as anyone who clicks on the link you pasted into your posts in the past will see the up-to-date edited map as you work with it!

Advanced Stuff
:  There are links for RSS feeds, Collaboration and account options (star shaped icon by your email address upper right).  I haven't played with these much, but look like they may have some neat features!

Happy Mapping!!
« Last Edit: March 27, 2011, 06:03:07 am by OldSchool_IsCool »
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Offline scottly

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Re: Google Mapping - basic lesson, tips, tricks and suggestions
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2011, 11:47:15 am »
Don't fix it if it ain't broke!
Helmets save brains. Always wear one and ride like everyone is trying to kill you....