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CommunityWalk Blog

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Another Round of Features

We're going to start developing another round of features on Monday, so things might be quiet for a little while. Once we finish this round though, we'll be poised to really do some damage. So stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

New Beta Commercial Maps Program

It's been a long time coming, but CommunityWalk is finally ready to begin offering a beta program for commercial maps.

The commercial product comes in two flavors, both with the same functionality as the free versions without the ads:

1) With Tabs
2) Without Tabs

Each product is available through a code snippet that can easily be added to any website. The maps are still created on the CommunityWalk website.

For the duration of the beta program the commercial maps will be offered for free. When we have a credit card processing system set up all members of the beta program will be given an additional month to decide whether or not to pay. The price will likely be between $9.99 and $29.99 a month. (Update: it is now looking like the price will be based on number of markers on the map instead of the number of maps - (eg. $19.99 a month for up to 100 markers)).

If you are interested in participating in the beta program please email me at I will respond as quickly as I can.

CommunityWalk is still in development. I personally respond to all customer service requests as quickly as possible, but it is important to note that we are still developing the product so it may occassionally have bugs.

We will also be enhancing the commercial products as we go. This blog will carry all news about future enhancements.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Opening Up

Over the past few days I've put in place a number of enhancements to allow people to create maps without ever signing up for the service. All you need to do now is click "Create A Map" and build away. As long as the browser stays open you will be able to edit it.

Once you close the browser the map will still be viewable but you will no longer be able to edit it. If you want to save the map you can simply login before closing the browser and the map will be assigned to your user account.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A Little Spring Cleaning

For some time now the "My Communities" page has completely intimidated me. I've really struggled with figuring out a good design for presenting all of the options clearly. Today I became fed up and just decided to try my best to get it cleaned up as much as possible.

Along with renaming it to "My Maps", I also broke out each map's settings onto a different page so that there was less information to try and digest on that one page. This is likely not the final design for this page, but it does help organize things a bit better. Hopefully it will be a little less dorky and intimidating for new users as well.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Ghost Markers

A couple of weeks ago I put in place a performance enhancement that made is so that only markers that were in the current viewable area of the map were placed on the map. This meant that if you were zoomed in you would not have to deal with the performance degradation that comes with having a large number of markers on the map.

Unfortunately there was a side effect. If you moved around enough, zoomed in and out, and switched tabs you could find yourself in a situation with ghost markers. These markers would just hang out on the map, not attached to anything, not clickable, and not removable.

So I've pulled back that enhancement and brought it in for another round of testing. I realize that there are some maps out there that are getting very large, and getting those maps to perform well is currently the highest priority. Hopefully we'll have a more stable performance enhancement ready soon.

Friday, April 07, 2006

New Map Controls

There are a lot of obvious changes that need to happen to CommunityWalk (eg, the "My Communities" page really needs to be cleaned up). For a while now I have been wrestling with how to improve the map page as I think it is also in need of some work. I haven't been able to find a solution I am happy with so I keep pushing it down the priority list.

Recently, though, I received a recommendation to just put a marginal improvement into the control at the bottom of the screen to, at the very least, help people figure out the software a little easier.

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and give it a shot. So I did. The result is on every map page now at the bottom of the screen and will hopefully clear up any confusion people might have about what these buttons do!

New CommunityWalk Controls

Please report any bugs that you find with the new controls. Also I would love to hear feedback about them!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

It's Your Map!

For some time now I have received fairly consistent requests from people who want more control over the descriptions on their map. They want to embed videos, show images, etc. Then, today, I read a review of CommunityWalk on LifeHacker that also made a point to say how unfortunate it was that users could not display videos on their maps.

Well that was the last straw. After much thought I decided to throw caution to the wind and open up the descriptions on all locations and the maps to whatever valid html (excluding javascript) that you want to display. I've also created another special function that lets you display embedded media alone in an infowindow.

Check out an example of this on my Guanajuato Mexico Vacation map:

I'll work on a tutorial for this, but in general any html goes. You should be warned as if you get too funky you run the risk of having it display incorrectly on a different browser, so be careful. The special functions are still the best way to go to ensure that you're content looks good across browsers. Here is what I did in the Mexico Map:

I basically used the media special function to wrap an image in a link to the larger media file, which is a flash file from YouTube. The image and the flash file are wrapped in single quotes. I realize that this is a little complicated so you might want to stick to basic html until I can put together the tutorial.

International Geocoding!

Want to make a map of Paris? Well we just made it a little easier. CommunityWalk now supports international geocoding (you type in an address and we show you where it belongs on the map) for the following countries:

Canada (this was there before but we lost it for a while)
Great Britain

I don't know exactly how accurate it will be, so let me know if anyone has any problems with it. Also this feature may end up costing us some serious cash so hopefully we can support it for the indefinite future (we'll have to start making some money soon :). Just in case you should probably make use of it now while it is definitely here.

P.S. I am also fixing a bunch of bugs, so please keep the bug reports coming in.