Wednesday, October 17, 2007

BuddyMapping: map-based guestbooks supporting Google Earth



In the old days, when there was only Microsoft, software were always closed in the sense of not having an Application User Interface (API) for other developers to have their own software "talking" with them. Then came Google with their very different approach leaving everything open and inviting developers from other companies to join in the mashup game and generate new media content and additional value.

The mashup concept is one of the most important aspects of the web 2.0 phenomena as it puts the power of media giants in the hand of every garage project dreamer. As well explained in this Wikipedia article: "...a typical example is the use of cartographic data from Google Maps to add location information to real-estate data from Craigslist, thereby creating a new and distinct web service that was not originally envisaged by either source."



I bumped into BuddyMapping maps installed on quite a few blogs in the past but was never attracted to it, probably because I didn't like the way most of the maps I saw were brutally murdered into 150 pixels wide sidebars, which always look horrible. This simply doesn't work as the map needs space. Today, thanks to my StumbleUpon friend TheScrappyCat, I realized this is a very interesting new media application.



BuddyMapping make map-based guestbooks for online communities such as blogs, forums and websites. BuddyMapping enabled websites allow their visitors to sign-in to their map and by that place a red dot over their location, leave comments and attach pictures. The BuddyMapping application allows the map owner to collect contact information from visitors based on a given schema including support for custom fields.



Being a classic mashup mapping application BuddyMapping uses the open API of GoogleEarth and GoogleMaps. Thus, one of the coolest features it is able to support, which was actually the thing that dragged me into it when I subscribed to TheScrappyCat's map, is viewing the map in Google Earth. This is good because by doing that the user of BuddyMapping can enjoy all the benefits involved in using Google Earth.



To put your map members in Google Earth, BuddyMapping serves your KML file for GE users to download and run. The file links to a data feed on BuddyMapping website, which Google Earth use to gather information about the people on your map. It updates hourly as (if...) people are added to the map. It might be a good idea to publish this KML file with an appropriate explanation in some place people can see it. You can just embed the map in one of your posts and link to it and to the KML file from your side bar.

Important: BuddyMapping is only compatible with GE 4, so you may need to update it if you haven't already (Download Google Earth Version 4 here). Mac users claimed to be able to have the map running on their OSX Dashboard. I don't have an available OSX here but I know someone who does and might agree to register and give it a try. As you can see for yourself I am pretty lonely at the moment in my new digiworld but I am not worried. Maybe I am just an optimistic person but I have many friends and family and coworkers abroad. I am sure as time will fly by some of them will join me on my BuddyMapping page.

http://www.buddymapping.com




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