Monday, May 26, 2008

Explore an Area on Google Maps

Holiday Maps

Holiday Maps is the latest Google Map mash-up from the prolific Map Channels. Maps Channels already hosts the popular Dual Maps (Google street view combined with Microsoft bird's eye view) and the very useful Hotel Search. Now as well as letting you find your hotel you can use Map Channel's Holiday Maps to virtually explore the location of your planned vacation.

Holiday Maps tags Panoramio photos and Wikipedia articles of your chosen location on a Google Map. The result is a little like Google Map's new 'explore' feature but with one slight improvement - Holiday Maps makes better use of the sidebar. The thumbnails of the photos and the titles of the Wikipedia articles appear in the map's sidebar so it is much easier to navigate the myriad information that has been added to the map.

Holiday Maps comes with a host of other features. It is possible to turn on street view, traffic layers, check the weather, find hotels or even add your own KML or GeoRss feeds. However the killer application has to be the numerous ways that Holiday Maps lets you add a map to your own website or blog.

Holiday Maps provides a small piece of embeddable code (similar to how you would embed a YouTube video) which enables the map to appear on your website. However you can also host your created map on your own site using Holiday Maps' API. Using the API gives you control of a whole host of parameters allowing you to change the look and features of your holiday map.

I'm sure Holiday Maps will prove to be as popular as Maps Channels' other Google Maps mash-ups. Being able to virtual explore an area and then check for available hotels is an invaluable service.

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