As I mentioned in the April newsletter, as a part of our new Malaysia coverage I'm looking to better integrate Google Maps into Travelfish.
In the past, I shied away from Google Maps primarily because the resolution wasn't good enough. While this is still an issue in Laos and Cambodia, and, to a lesser extent Vietnam, for Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore the maps are very good.
So, I've made a demo page for the thriving metropolis (that is a joke) of Kangar in northern Peninsular Malaysia.
You can see the demo page here:
Scroll down a little and you'll see the map running lengthways across the page.
As you'll see I've marked a few pointers on it -- a couple of hotels and the bus stations (stopped short of marking KFC) and you'll see you can click on each icon to get a bit more info. There's also an illustrative route to Kuala Perlis -- I more just put that in to see how it works -- I've no idea what road the bus actually takes!
You'll also see you can zoom in and out and also pan around the map to other areas -- believe me, you can waste lots of time surfing through Google Maps.
The big thing I'd love to go, but haven't figured out how to is to mark the actual hotel name on the map without you needing to click on it to see it.
Obviously where there isn't a useful map (eg Attapeu in Laos) we'll continue to use our in-house efforts, but using Google Maps lets us make the maps far more interactive etc -- which should be useful for you. And, it also frees up me to do other stuff!
So, any suggestions or wishlists are much appreciated!
GREAT idea, I love google maps and have google earth with all my markers on.
This map seemed to work fine and I think is really handy when looking at a new place you haven't been to before. You can see where your hotel is in relation to the shops/beach/brothel etc..
Let me know if there is anyway I can help you mark locations on the Bangkok map, or Chiang Mai map.
Jon_Mak_Mak - thanks -- may take you up on your generous offer. I'm still working on how the final map will look (I want to show the names of places without you needing to click on them to fins out which hotel etc -- but I'm still learning how it works, so it is taking time!)
Will post another version when I got something new to brag about ;-)
Very nice. Thanks! I can see how this will make getting oriented to a new location sooo much easier. Really fun to scroll around, zoom in and out, etc., just like you said too.
As for wishlists? Perhaps when you get really good at this, you'll link some of the popular how to get to .... feature stories with the maps, showing the routes. That would be really cool. Cheers.
Thanks exacto -- agree there's a lot of ways we could use the maps to help make things easier to understand.
I've made a new version of the same page, and again am looking for feedback. Following are the changes:
a) different icons -- one for accommodation, one for orientation, one for transport etc
b) mouseovers -- you no longer need to click on the bubble to see what it is -- just mouse over and you should see a colour-cided snippet saying what it is
c) legend -- there is a legend to the right -- obviously I'd need to make this scrollable on most maps as all the points wouldn't fit in.
d) Links out -- click on the bubble for the Sri Garden Hotel and you'll see there's a link that, when clicked on, takes you to the full review on Travelfish. At the moment it opens in the same window, but I'm thinking it would be better in a new window (so you don't lose the map) any thoughts?
e) How much info would you want on the map? For example, with the bubble for the bus station I could easily put the bus timetable info into the bubble... too much info perhaps? perhaps just a link to the relevant section on the travel section?
You can see the map here: Kangar isn't going to know what hit it ;-)
As always all suggestions and input much appreciated!
PS exacto -- how is the trip planning coming along? you going to make it to Bali?
Since it is the capital of Perlis, I think this type of attention to detail for Kangar is long overdue anyway. ;-)
This is excellent. I particularly liked the links out option. It is like one-stop shopping. A quick visit to the map helps me identify two or three places I might like to stay, and gives me a general overview of where they are relative to where I'll arrive, etc.
d. I could see why you'd prefer a new or pop up window for the links out section, but it wasn't too bad just hitting the back button from the link to the hotel. As I recall, it dumped me right back into the map.
e. I'd suggest links to the additional info rather than clogging up the bubbles with things like bus times, prices and opening/closing times for museums, etc.
That's just one opinion of course. Others may have different ideas. But I definitely would have enjoyed this type of feature when I was doing research on Soppong and Pai and a few of the smaller Mekong river towns in the Isan. One-stop shopping. Awesome improvement. Thanks.
Speaking of which, yes, the trip planning is going well. I've got my flights sorted, arriving in BKK late November and departing in late January. I was planning on spending the bulk of the time in Thailand, exploring those few places in the north (and elsewhere) which I haven't visited yet, plus spending a big chunk of time along the Mekong. I'm afraid I won't get to Bali this trip (unless there is more airport-related unhappiness and I need a place to escape!), but I was thinking of a quick trip into southern Laos at the end of the journey following the river, just before heading back to Bankok for the flight home.
I've also got long layovers in Seoul/Incheon on both legs of the trip, which will be enough to get out of the airport and have a quick look around. Too bad it will be so cold in Korea then, but I'm still really looking forward to that bit as well. Cheers.
The bed icons are cool, don't like the car for a bus station tho. ;)
The (i) symbol I thought would be an information type place but it was a post office! Bit strange.
Scrolling down the list on the right and the icons showing up is a GREAT feature. Would work really well for a location like Bangkok that has 10000000's of hotels.
Hey Exacto, I will be in Thailand in January. :)
OK, another incarnation -- this one is close to final.
As suggested, have changed the icons where appropriate -- unfortunately the choice I have to work from isn't ideal (for eg there's no "@" which is what I'd normally use for an internet cafe) and while it is possible to roll my own icons, I think I'll leave that for next wet season!
As promised, the legend to the right now scrolls, which should make it easier when there are stacks of hotels to deal with, or in big cities (eg Phnom Penh).
Also, you'll see when you scroll over the legend items the popups are different colours -- I'll fine-tune the colour chart later!
Lastly, you'll see there's a strip at the bottom where you can turn the various sets of icons on and off. This should make it easier in densely iconified (don't know if that is a word, but you know what I mean) maps.
So, saving any last minute suggestions, I think we'll go with this.
You can see the map of Kangar in all its glory, here:
PS exacto -- there's a whole pile of new research on the way for Pai, Soppong and surrounds - being typed up as I speak.
Cool map of Phnom Penh! What an excellent way to present information... all the things you need to know on one page.
Quite time consuming to do though I expect. How long would it take to do one for Bangkok?
Just a quick note that I'm adding in the shells of Google maps for all the destinations on Travelfish at the moment. They'll all just have the map (no added extras, unlike say the Phnom Penh map), but we need to make a layout change on the location pages so I need the maps in there before I change the layout.
Doesn't make sense? Don't worry about it -- I'm mentioning this only so that people don't need to email me to say hey there's a map on the Don Dhet page but nothing is marked on it ;-)
I appreciate the icon 'dropping' in all those maps would be immensely time consuming.
Could you please open up a post site so that we could give feedback where a place is wrong, or not mentioned, etc.
Perhaps it could be a sticky in/under Trip Reports.
For example, I noticed the bus icon in Luang Nam Tha. This is only for local tuk-tuk 'buses'. The main bus terminal for buses leaving LNT for Huay Xai or OudomXai or Boten (etc) is in highway 3, on the LNT side, and between the yellow road going to (old and new) LNT and the little set of streets to the west of the Nam Tha River.
The icons on the LNT map are not ours -- they're Google's and come baked into the map. If there is no legend in the right column (like on the Luang Nam Tha map you mention) then we haven't marked it up.
I understand, NOW.
But that isn't made clear.
Where you have written...
"Get orientated with our interactive map of Luang Nam Tha, Laos" for example, you may like to add something that alerts the reader, such as (for example).
Get orientated with
our this interactive map of Luang Nam Tha, Laos (we will soon be completing the details to Travelfish standards).
strike out being to remove, underline to add.
I'm thinking that if people rely on a map assuming its to Travelfish's standards (as per Phnom Penh), then implications follow.