As an alternative to Google Maps, there is Open Street Map [OSM].
More and more major organizations are choosing OSM for their maps. In February 2012, Foursquare switched to the OpenStreetMap powered Mapbox platform. In March 2013, Wikipedia started using OSM as well. Craigslist uses it for apartment searches and even Apple has used OSM data in its maps… Other popular platforms using OSM powered maps are Github, Pinterest, Roadtrippers and Strava, to name but a few.
I spent the past week looking for ways to implement OSM into RapidWeaver and then, just this morning, Instacks' OpenStreetMap stack flattered into my mailbox. I felt quite sure that there was once an OpenStreetMap stack, but it seems to have disappeared. But the Instacks' stack takes OSM to the next level…
OpenStreetMap arrives with links to 28 map-tile-servers [MTS], plus 'Custom/Mapbox' and Mapbox was just the service that I'd been assessing. You can add up to ten unique makers to a map and each marker may be linked to a URL, making store location a breeze.
What are 'map-tile-servers'? I hear you ask.
MTS are providers that offer overlay options for OSM. The overlays contain different options such as geological structure, place-names in different languages, points of interest, etc.
Two of the included MTS, Thunderforrest and Mapbox, require either an API, or an account. Both are absolutely painless and free of charge. The map below uses a tile overlay from Mapbox that, alongside street names and places of interest, also displays geographical date such as elevation lines.
Tile Server – 28 options plus Custom/Mapbox
Optional API Key
Zoom – default 15
Height – Lg . Desk, Desk, Tablet, Phone
Marker 1 [through 10]
[GPS] Position, Marker Text, Marker Link, Marker Colour (choice of 8 colours – custom image sadly missing)
Do you wish to gradually free yourself from the fangs of the ravenous giant mentioned above? Then OpenStreetMap is a good place to start! The default maps (German server) are great, but there are also many, many options to choose from for the map display.
I, for one, shall be switching to OpenStreetMap on my next site!
Your client runs a chain of Restaurants with branches in every shopping centre in town ('mall', if you live across the pond), plus a couple of select locations. With Locator, site visitors will not only be able to see which branch of the restaurant is closest to his adobe, but also call up directions and view the restaurant in Street View for optical identification.
All your visitor needs to do is enter his ZIP code into the (optional) search field and submit. If your server has SSL certification, geo location can be automated!
A seemingly unlimited number of locations can be added to Locator via Google Earth KML files, XML files, or, if you've previously added locations to WordPress, or similar, via JSON import.
The simplest method is, of course the Google Earth solution. You will, however, need to download the Google Earth app first. The online version doesn't export the .klm data required by Locator.
Open up Google Earth; add a folder for your locations; drop in place pins and save them to your location folder; set a description for each location. Add further details, such as contact information and opening times. Once you've added all of your locations save the whole folder as a KML file and either drag the file into your RapidWeaver project resources, or upload it to your server.
In your Locator stack, you can now link to the .kml file, switch to preview and call up all of the locations you've added. As simple as that!
If you'd prefer to have a more easily editable location list, then an XML file is recommended. You can download examples of all file formats from the product page to see which best suits your purposes.
Google API key – Will has Kindly left his API key in the stacks so that the demo data functions.
You should, however, visit the Google Developer's site and acquire your own key. It's a painless process.
Data File Type – Google Earth KML, JSON, Sample Data, XML
Formatting for the location search
Distance Alert – (set to -1 to deactivate)
Zoom – Base map magnification
Standard Google Maps options (10 settings)
Start Map Open
Default Location Latitude/Longitude
Locator List Settings
List Position, plus colour formatting
Translations for non-English websites.
Programming a store locator would normally be a very expensive undertaking. Locator not only simplifies the task, but makes it affordable.
And if you hurry, the S4S page still has a 50% Black Friday price reduction. That's a helluva-lotta-stack for a small price.
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