Recent Google developments

Just when I didn’t had time to blog, Google decided to announce a series of new developments and features.

It started with the O’Reilly Where 2.0 conference, where Google announced the Google Street View and Mapplets.

The day after Where 2.0, Google had organized a Developer day in 10 cities around the world, where a lot of developer related stuff was launched.

In this post I’m highlighting some of the new stuff I find interesting, like new Google Maps API features, Mapplets and the Mashup Editor.

Where 2.0

There was a lot of interesting stuff going on at the Where 2.0 conference, but I think the Google Street View got the most press coverage.

Does somebody know if there’s a European equivalent to the Where 2.0 conference, because the US is a little bit too far for me just to attend a conference.

I asked Gina Blaber, O’Reilly’s Conference Director, if O’Reilly is ever going to organize such an event in Europe, just like they organized the euroOSCON conference last 2 years and the upcoming RailsConf in Berlin. She said they would love to organize a euroWhere 2.0, but if it’ll ever happen she couldn’t tell. Maybe we Europeans just have to organize it ourselves 😉

Google Developer Day

The day after the Where 2.0 conference, Google organized a Developer Day in 10 different countries. Sadly not in the Netherlands, because they already organized one last March in Amsterdam. But the Amsterdam day wasn’t as technical and as interesting as these events. Maybe next time.

Mapplets

I think Mapplets are the most important new feature Google announced recently. Street View got the most attention, but I think mapplets will be a lot more useful than Street View.

The most important difference between Google Maps and Google Earth were the layers in Google Earth. Users can decide which layers they turn on or of. On maps.google.com you get to see everything or just the kml overlay you were viewing. With Mapplets you can create layers for maps.google.com.

This way users can combine different layers to search for information. For example, you are looking for a new house, with schools and public transport in the neighborhood. You enable the housing mapplet, the school mapplet and the public transport mapplet. You get all the information you need on one map.

A similar example can be seen in the demo from Google:

I haven’t had time to dive into the documentation and try to create my own mapplets, but I’m going to do so and when I do, I’ll write another episode in my series about How to get information into Google Maps, because this is a great new way to add your information into Google Maps.

Mashup editor

The Mashup editor is a new tool created by Google. At this moment it’s a limited test and you have to sign up and wait to get access.

I already got access and played a little bit with the editor. It looks a lot more developer oriented than Yahoo Pipes. You get a text editor where you can use Google Tags to create your mashup. It also uses a subset of XPath. It is very easy to create a map from a GeoRSS feed, or a mashup of a GData feed.

I found a few limitations, eg. you can only create filters on GData feeds. But there’s Yahoo Pipes! You can use Pipes to filter your RSS feeds and create a new feed and use the Mashup editor to create a nice mashup with this feed. Pipes an the Mashup editor are complementary.

I will write a thorough review of the Editor, but until then, you can take a tour of the editor or see a few examples created with the Mashup editor.

Google Maps API changes

There have been a lot of API changes lately, but the biggest new API feature is the addition of the directions API . In a lot of countries (currently Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States) you can use this API to get driving directions.

Another new feature is the possibility to add traffic overlays on top of your map. This feature is only available in the US.

The Open Source Utility Library also got an interesting new extenstion, the DragZoomControl. You can use this in your map to give the users the ability to drag a rectangle on the map to zoom in to the bounds of that rectangle.

Google Maps and Adsense

Google also announced they are going to give developers of Google Maps the ability to monetize their Maps by adding Adsense ads to Maps. They didn’t specify a date when this will be launched, but I heard something about late June.

I’m also not sure whether this will only be made available on Mapplets, or also on Maps created on your own webpages. I’ll try to get more information, and write a separate article about this.

update: Pamela from Google confirmed AdSense will be made available through the Google Maps API, so every Google Maps developer can use it. You can also see Brandon Badger announce the AdSense Maps API (the announcement starts around 30 minutes in the video).

And more…..

Other new things that were launched are:

Summary

How many announcements can a company make in such a short period and how can a developer cope with all these new exiting things that can be used? 😉

The future will tell how successful all the new Google features and tools will be. Next few weeks I’ll experiment with some of the new features and decide which onces I’m gonna use, so stay tuned for more information and in the mean time you can watch most of the presentations of the Google Developers Day in the Google Developer Day Channel at Youtube.

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