Google
 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

20 Good Map Creation Tools for Students

A couple of years ago I published a list of 21 online map creation tools. Since then some of those tools have gone offline and new tools have replaced them. Here's my updated list of online map creation tools for students and teachers.


Wikia Maps is a map creation tool from Wikia. Wikia Maps has two map creation options. You can use Wikia Maps to create maps in a manner similar to those that you may have previously created in Google Maps. Wikia calls those maps "real maps." The truly cool feature of Wikia Maps is the option to create maps on pictures that you upload. Wikia calls those maps "custom maps." Custom maps are created in Wikia Maps by uploading a picture or selecting a picture from the Wikia Maps gallery. You could upload a picture of a historical map, a picture from a place that you visited (I'm thinking of my pictures taken from the top of the Empire State Building), or you could upload a picture of a drawing that you made. You can add map placemarks to the image that you upload to use as the basis of your custom Wikia Map.

Odyssey.js is an open source map creation tool from CartoDB. Through Odyssey.js you can create mapped stories in three formats; slide, scroll, and torque. In all three formats viewers will see a location on a map along with the text and pictures of your story. The slide and scroll formats are fairly straight-forward, you click through slides or scroll through a story. The torque format allows you to connect elements of your map to a timeline.

Visits is an online tool for creating a location history timeline by using your Flickr images and Google Maps. The service allows you to select a set of your public Flickr images and match them to your Google Maps history. Visits uses the date information in your Flickr images and Google Maps history to create a timeline. The timeline events are represented as sets of circles.

National Geographic's Map Maker Interactive offers themes on which users can create custom map displays. Within each theme there are subcategories to choose from. For example, you can select the theme Physical Systems Land then choose volcanic eruptions to display on your map. Map Maker Interactive also provides drawing tool and marker icons that you can place on your map. In the sample pictured below I circled Iceland and placed a volcano icon on it.

ikiMap is a free service for creating custom maps online. The service allows you to build custom maps on top of Google Maps, Bing Maps, and Open Street Maps. You can also use a completely blank canvas and upload a map. The maps that you create on ikiMap can be shared publicly or privately. Your maps can be constructed collaboratively on ikiMap. To create a custom map on ikiMap you do have to register on the site and confirm your registration in an email. Once you're registered you can start building a map. The simplest way to build a custom map on ikiMap is to choose a base layer and add custom placemarks. There is a collection of dozens of placemark icons to choose from. If you don't like the placemark icons in the gallery, you can upload your own icons. Each placemark can contain text, images, links, and embedded videos.

Animaps is a service that was built for the purpose of allowing users to create animated Google Maps. The basics of creating maps in Animaps is very similar the process for creating maps in Google Maps. The main benefit of using Animaps over Google Maps is that you can create a tour of your placemarks that plays through according to the timing that you specify. Another benefit is that you can build in colored shapes to expand and contract to demonstrate patterns. You can also import images to your map from Flickr, Picassa, and Facebook. Click here to watch a demonstration of Animaps in action. You do not need a Google Account to use Animaps, you can register on the site or use Facebook credentials to log-in.

Tripline is a service designed to enable anyone to record a trip they've taken or to plan a trip itinerary. What Tripline is really intended to do is to give you a platform to "present" your trips to others. To do this Tripline allows you to add details to each stop on your itinerary, add images, and add music to the presentation of your trip. When completed your map essentially becomes a slideshow tour. There are a few different ways that you can create trip on Tripline. You can use your mobile device to check-in at different locations and have Tripline plot those points for you. You can do that using Foursquare or by geolocating your Tweets. The other way that you can create trips on Tripline is to plot them directly on the Tripline site.

Scribble Maps is a fun and useful application for drawing and typing on Google Maps. Using Scribble Maps anyone can draw and type on a map. All of the zoom options and most of the search options available on Google Maps are available when using Scribble Maps. You can zoom in on an area and then type text, draw a circle or a box around an area, you can even doodle stick figures or whatever you like on your map. Maps created by using Scribble Maps can be shared via email or embedded into your website. Scribble Maps Pro (an upgrade that requires a payment) allows you to import KML files, import spreadsheets, and import SHP files. Importing KML files allows you to add free-hand drawings on top of files that you may have already created for Google Maps or Google Earth. Importing spreadsheets makes it easy to quickly add placemarks to a large number of places. SHP file importation allows you to add custom shapes to your maps.

Quikmaps is a nice map creation tool that allows you to quickly draw, type, and insert icons on a Google Map without requiring you to have a Google Account. You can register directly on the site itself. Quikmaps is similar to Scribble Maps. Placing icons on Quikmaps is a simple matter of dragging and dropping elements. Maps can be shared via email or embedded into your blog or website.

UMapper is a custom map creation tool that allows you to create maps from just about any JPG, PNG, or GIF file. Using UMapper is a simple process of uploading an image and selecting a map service (Google, Yahoo, Bing) as the basis for the map. The finished maps can be embedded into your blog or website. UMapper also offers a platform for creating your own geography game. UMapper GeoDart is a simple game in which players have to locate the places the you specify.

Mapfaire is a free tool for quickly creating maps that contain simple placemarks. Using Mapfaire you can create a custom map that highlights places you specify. To use Mapfaire just sign in with your Google Account then name your map and start adding placemarks. To add a placemark all you need to do is enter a location then label your placemark. You can publish and edit your maps at any time.

Target Map is a service that allows anyone to create mapped displays of data sets. Users of Target Map can importa and map their own data sets, use data sets from other users, use data sets found online, or manually input data onto a map. When I created my sample map, I choose to manually input data. Target Map allows you to map data for a country, a region, or for the whole world. You can customize the display to make borders appear faint or bold and alter the look of data points. Although at first glance Target Map's user interface might not appear to be terribly intuitive, it is actually quite easy to use if you follow the directions. Target Map is free to use if you agree to publish your maps to the public gallery. If you want to keep your maps private you can do so for a small fee.

World Map is a free program developed by the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard University. World Map is designed to enable creation, visualization, and exploration of geographically referenced information. In other words, you can build some great mapped data visualizations on the service. To create a map on World Map you can use the more than 1800 data sets that are stored in the service or you can upload your own data sets. The majority of the data sets in the World Map library have abstracts explaining a bit about the purpose and scope of the data. There are five default base maps that you can choose to build upon. Alternatively, you can choose to create your map completely from scratch and upload your own base layer to build upon. Maps that you create on World Map can be embedded into a website, printed, or viewed in Google Earth.

GeoCommons provides excellent tools for creating and sharing map-based data visualizations. Users can select a from twelve base maps to build upon. After choosing a base map users can select from more than 49,000 public data sets or upload their own data sets. Map creators can add more than one data set to their maps. To complete the visualizations users can specify colors, shades, shapes, and apply numerous filters to determine what is or is not displayed from their chosen data sets. Completed maps can be shared as KML files or embedded into blogs and websites.

Map a List turns Google Spreadsheet information into Google Maps placemarks. The finished product is a Google Map of the information you've selected from your Google Spreadsheets. To create a map from your spreadsheets you need to register for a Map a List account and give it access to your Google Docs account. Map a List then walks you through each step of selecting a spreadsheet, defining the parameters for your map, and choosing placemarks. Just like in Google Maps you can customize the placemark icons that are used in your Map a List displays. Your maps can be shared publicly or privately. Your maps can be downloaded as KML files to use in Google Earth.

Heat Map Tool is a tool for easily creating heat maps or incident maps from a CSV file. To create a heat map all you need to do is upload a CSV file then specify your desired display attributes like scale, colors, and opacity. You can edit the display attributes of your map whenever you like. If you're wondering how to create a CSV file you can do so by exporting from a spreadsheet in Google Documents or exporting from an Excel file. Click here for directions on exporting from Excel. The free version of Heat Map Tool allows you to have up to 100 data points on your map and up to 500 hits per day on your map.

MapFab is an excellent free map creation tool built on top of Google Maps. MapFab offers a few advantages over Google Maps, but the most notable advantage is that you do not have to create an account in order to create your custom maps. To start creating custom maps on MapFab just head to the site and enter your starting location. Then select from the menu of custom placemarks and enter a description. There is a variety of font colors to choose from when you label your placemarks. That same variety of text colors can be applied to your map title too. Just like on Google Maps you can draw polygons and circles on your maps. Also like on Google Maps you can draw lines, but on MapFab you can change the colors of your lines.

Google Maps Engine Lite allows you to go beyond manually adding placemarks to your Google Maps by uploading a spreadsheet of locations that will be displayed on your map. You can import up to three spreadsheets per map. You can also draw custom lines and shapes on your maps. Like any other Google Map you can invite others to collaborate with you. You can share your map by embedding it into a website. Click here for directions on using Google Maps Engine Lite. 

Last fall Google introduced Google Earth Tour Builder which made it easier than ever to create tours in Google Earth. To create a tour with Tour Builder you need to install the Google Earth Browser Plug-in and you need to have a Google Account. Once you have those two things and you're signed into Tour Builder just follow the clear Tour Builder directions to build your tour. The first step is naming your tour and adding a cover image. Next you will search for your first location then click "add to tour" to add the location to your tour. You'll then be prompted to add images, videos, and text to your placemark. Each placemark can have up to 25 images and videos. The images and videos will be displayed as a gallery rather than as a linear stack of images as is the case if you edit placemarks in Google Maps or Earth. Repeat the process of adding locations and placemarks until you finish telling your story. Click here for directions for creating a tour in Tour Builder. 

The Thematic Mapping Engine provides users with a very simple way to create Google Earth kmz files. Thematic Mapping draws on data provided by the United Nations to create maps depicting all types of development data and environmental science data. Users select a statistical indicator category, select a year or range of years, and the manner in which they would like the data displayed in Google Earth. If you're using a Windows computer you can preview your files before downloading them.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...