Page T1.1 . 11 June 2008                     
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    Map Services Hit the Streets

    by Evan H. Shu, FAIA

    Mapping has become one of the most competitive areas in free web services. Everyone needs it, everyone uses it including the architect who wants to get somewhere.

    With such popularity, advertising dollars flow freely in and investments into new mapping and viewing features seem to come quite frequently. These days you can even see somewhere, in many cases, without leaving the office.

    While Mapquest still leads all other services in terms of hits, their offerings are quite vanilla, providing just the standard mapping and directions to and fro, from location to location.

    Hot on Mapquest's tail and providing superior viewing options are Google Maps, Microsoft's Live Search Maps, and Yahoo! Maps. Each offers satellite imagery that has added usefulness for the architect.

    Given the address for a prospective client's site or building, for many urban locations, the architect can now do a pre-visit inspection, complete with aerial and even street-view shots from multiple angles.

    Yahoo! Maps offers three standard viewing options for almost any location around the world: "Map," "Hybrid," and "Satellite." Map is your standard cartography of streets, highways, and landmarks. Satellite gives you a direct overhead view of your area. Hybrid adds street names to the Satellite view.

    As with all the other mapping services, you are given dynamic control of your location. You can use the zoom gauge to go anywhere from an astronaut's view to an individual building. You can click on your mouse button and drag the center of your view right, left, up, and down.   >>>

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    This article was reprinted from the June 2008 issue of Cheap Tricks Shu Associates Inc. with permission of the publisher.



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    Google's interactive Google Maps web tool has added a feature for viewing eye-level 360-degree panoramas along most streets in dozens of U.S. cities.
    Image: Courtesy Google Maps

    ArchWeek Image

    Arrows allow users to move in two directions along a street path, while panning and zooming tools allow for fine-grain view control.
    Image: Courtesy Google Maps


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