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Archive for September, 2008

Google Static Maps API

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Google just updated their Static Maps API to include satellite imagery, and the atlas now uses this API to display thumbnail maps.

The atlas previously used pregenerated images that looked like this:

A custom satellite map of Jerusalem shows about two degrees of latitude and longitude as context. Jerusalem appears near the top of the map.

Now the image for Jerusalem looks like this:

A Google Map of Jerusalem also shows two degrees of latitude and two degrees of longitude, but Jerusalem appears centered in the map.

The Google Static Maps API is a way to get all the nice imagery of Google Maps without incurring the interactive overhead. It’s useful in situations where, like an atlas, you just want to show a static image. Until yesterday, you could only get street maps in the Static Maps API.

This change benefits you—you always see up-to-date imagery—and it’s easier for me, since I don’t need to regenerate images if the locations change.