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CommunityWalk Blog

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Local Voices

Brett Atkins, who runs AccessLocalNet, has been using CommunityWalk to create maps of local communities. I was just looking at one of these maps and stumbled across a great little widget that he puts into his maps that have the voice of the store owner describing their store. I love this. It really brings the whole thing to life.

You can check it on his map, Access Franklin

You can get use these widgets for yourself at AudioAcrobat.

A little better printing

I am continuing to make little improvements in printing. This time I've made it so that the numbers on the icons print properly. I want to make this sync up with the printed descriptions of the icons, but unfortunately it's not there quite yet. It will be soon though.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Little More Control

I've been receiving requests for the ability to control the order of the markers as they appear on the map for some time now. I've been wrestling with exactly how to accomplish it and, in lieu of a better solution, I simply decided to add it in for the time being.

So now there is an "Order" field that is accessible from both the marker balloon (at the bottom when editing a marker) and the bulk edit. For existing maps I highly recommend using the bulk edit to change the order of the markers as editing each individual location is quite a pain.

I'll be keeping an eye out for a better interface for manipulating the order (drag and drop is at the top of the list), but for the time being at least the functionality is there.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Significant Performance Upgrade

I just released a performance upgrade that improved map performance times by as much as 10x depending on the browser. I rushed the upgrade out just a bit as I found out that Google is going to be doing quite a bit on their end as well to make loading a map with a few hundred or thousand markers faster. So I will likely be pulling this performance upgrade out of the system if Google integrates it directly into their code. That said, if you find bugs with anything in the meantime please do report them. I am not sure when Google will be releasing their enhancements, so my upgrade may be in place for a while.

The upgrade also gave me a chance to change around the numbered markers a bit. Maps with numbered markers will notice a significant improvement in the load time of their maps because they are no longer downloading one image per marker. Rather I've overlayed text on top of the image, so there is only one image per marker color.

At the same time I changed the numbering scheme to be more traditional, instead of using letters and numbers the markers now just use numbers.

Again please report any bugs that you find and I will address them right away.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fixing Up Bulk Edit

Many thanks to all of the users out there that reported bugs in the Bulk Edit functionality. It helped me a great deal. There are still a few issues out there that I know about and I'm sure there are a few that I do not know about (please report them if you find them), but I was able to fix quite a few today. These include:

- Exporting the website and directions fields
- The ability to clear a field (e.g. delete the description)
- Dealing with unresolved addresses better
- Handling photos better (required adding fields for the height and width of a photo)

Again please report any other issues you find. It is an enormous help.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Some Minor Printing Enhancements

Improved printing continues to be a high priority for the site. I just released a few minor enhancements to make the maps a bit more printable (there is still a ways to go).

1) Drag titles around. If you want to display the titles when you print but the titles are overlapping you can simply drag them to where you want them to be.

2) Hiding the titles and descriptions of markers not shown on the map. Now when you are zoomed in on an area of the map only the titles and descriptions of the markers shown on the map will print out.

I realize that these are minor enhancements, but they are part of a larger vision I have for improved print capabilities. Hopefully the rest of the vision will be realized soon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Improved Internal Linking

I might be the only user that takes advantage of internal links because they are so hidden in the application, but they are a powerful feature that I think more people would find useful if it was easier to figure out. The idea is that you can create a link in a description on your map that changes the state of the map. You can cause the zoom level to change, the tab to change, the map to recenter, etc. Personally I use it on almost every single map I've ever created.

In an effort to make it a little more user-friendly I've added in a control panel that shows up when you click "Options" after clicking "Link to this view/marker". The control panel allows you to specify which parts of the map state you want to change. This way you can change the zoom level while leaving the map type alone.

I realize that this is still a little confusing. It is intendended for advanced users. I would like to make it even easier to use, but for the time being this will have to do. Hopefully it is enough to allow more users to take advantage of it.

The map of places I have lived is a great example of internal links in action. They can be placed in marker descriptions as well as the map description and provide total control over the map.

An Example Internal Link:
internal_link('This is an internal link', '01@02180000')

Monday, July 10, 2006

A New Tab

I've just released a new tab for listing off the markers on a map. It displays a photo for each marker that has photos, making it easier to see which markers have which photos.

When a map is first created this tab is now the only default tab, but you can change this to add back in the old tabs. For older maps you will have to edit the settings and choose the new tab, "Markers".

You can see the new "Markers" tab on the Torino Winter Olympics Map.

I've also made it so that if there is just one tab the tabs do not display at all to save space. You can see this on any new map.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The New Map Page

For some time now I've been frustrated by the fact that having controls on the bottom of the screen causes too many people to turn away from CommunityWalk not understanding how to use it. So, with the fantastic help of Arena Reed ( I decided to redesign the map page to try and make it more intuitive.

Included in the redesign are areas on the page that are dedicated to displaying the map title and description and map comments (on the bottom of the map). I think it makes sense to break these out so that the tab area can be used to list of markers exclusively.

The old design can still be seen by replacing "map" with "oldmap" in the url for any given map (eg. becomes

I'm going to continue to make changes to this page and would love to hear feedback from people. Also please report bugs as I've already found a few.

This doesn't affect the various iframe solutions that the site offers, including the commercial map ones. I will likely leave these views alone for the time being, except maybe to round the corners of the tabs. If people want to see changes in these please let me know.

Redesigned Map Page

I just released a redesigned map page that flips the navigation around to the top and left. The idea is to make it easier for first time users to find the controls (this has been a big problem). You can still see the old map page at map id)


More about the switch in just a bit (I've already found a few bugs that I need to fix).

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Photo Support In Bulk Edit

I've added in limited support for importing photos into the bulk edit functionality. You can't upload photos, but you can reference photos on another website like Flickr. For the time being you can only reference one photo per location, but I hope to expand this and make it essentially infinite in the near future.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Integrated Bulk Import/Edit/Delete

I've been testing the bulk import/edit/delete feature quite a bit over the past few weeks, using it to create a few maps very quickly (like this one (below) I created from an article in the New York Times in order to get a better idea of where everything was that the article mentioned). I think I worked out the majority of the bugs, but I'm sure there are still some hanging around. So if you find any please let me know.

Regardless I think it is ready for integration into the actual application, so you can now access the bulk functionality from the configuration page and the map page by clicking "Bulk edit".

CommunityWalk Map - South End of Boston