Monday, September 12, 2011

Seven Ways to Build Custom Maps Without a Google Account

This morning on Twitter someone asked if there is a way for students to create online maps without a Google Account. The answer is yes and here are seven tools that students can use to build custom maps online. This post is for you Mr. Potter thank you for the inspiration.

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.

Weaving History has gone into hiberation and is not accepting new users at this time. 

is a promising website for history students and teachers. The purpose of Weaving History is to enable users to create timelines matched to maps. There are two basic functions that you need to know about in Weaving History; Factlets and Threads. Factlets are where you create short summaries about an event. Factlets include dates, places, names, and other relevant information. Threads are where you string together a series of Factlets. In the Threads view you can choose between "chrono view" and "geochrono view." Chrono view displays threads in a traditional timeline style with a list of Factlets below the timeline. The Geochrono view displays threads as placemarks on a map with timeline below. Click on any of the placemarks in the Geochrono view to see the Factlets connected to the events at those places.

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.

Build A Map is a new service that allows you to build layers on top of Google Maps. This is different than creating maps in the "My Places" feature of Google Maps. In My Places you can only add placemarks, paths, and shaded shapes. Using Build A Map you can add information from data sets, add shapes, and add custom labels. The service is currently in a private beta so you do have to register your email address and wait for an invitation to try it out. In the meantime you can watch the following video overview of the service.

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. The directions for creating your own GeoDart game are contained in the video below.