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I'm currently looking for a developer to create a customized Google map for our school.  I'm wondering if anyone has any experience in outsourcing this type of project.

  • What should I be looking for in a Google maps developer?
  • How important is experience in this type of development?

We have no programmers on staff, so we outsource about 95% of this type of work.  All of the developers we work with are showing interest in this project, but none have very concrete examples of the work they've done with the Google maps API.

 

Any thoughts on how to go about finding the right developer for this job would be much appreciated. 

 

(Inquiries about the work are welcome too.)

 

Thanks,


Steve Shanahan
Web Services Administrator
Point Park University
sshanahan@pointpark.edu

 

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Depending on the requirements, the most simple way is to use a picture overlay. This is something you could do in-house quite easily.

http://code.google.com/apis/maps/documentation/javascript/v2/exampl...

 

I'd like to hear what you want the finished project to be.

Hi Ryan, thank you for the response.  We're looking for the campus map to be pretty interactive, with overlays and info windows for each of our buildings.  We'd also like to highlight other campus features like parking, shuttle stops, and wifi-hotspots. 

Nothing too complex then, from the Google Maps API perspective. Either picture/polygon overlays with infowindows.

 

Anyone with a basic understanding of the Maps API and javascript could get it done. If you all had the info ready (images/polygons to overlay, lattitude/longitude info for each, data for each location) it wouldn't take longer than a week for me to get it all working and fine-tuned. And I've never used the google maps API before. It's fairly simple to figure out.

 

Go here and check out the Overlays section. Specifically, the Polygon-Arrays and the Infowindow.

Hi Steve,

 

Just make sure they are using the Maps API V3. This offers some improved features and mobile enhancements.

I'm actually working on moving our legacy map over to Google Maps API V3 with custom layers for parking, the ability to search buildings and some other handy features. You can see the legacy map here - http://queensu.ca/campusmap/

The Google Map version should be out before summer. If you have any questions give me a shout, I do consulting work part-time as well.

 

Thanks,

Steven Leggett

steve@wavepointmedia.com

Twitter: @leggettsteven

Hi Steve - depending on how fancy and detailed you want the map to be, you don't necessarily need a developer. I have no such skills, but very easily made the customized map (showing UNC projects in the African country of Malawi) that's embedded in the following webpage: http://www.unc.edu/spotlight/Malawi

 

If you can cut and paste, you can make a customized Google Map. There are good instructions in the G Maps help section.

 

The main time/effort commitment is cat-herding all the info (writing text descriptions of buildings; finding pix/videos to embed in the icon pop ups; etc) that will go on the map -- and I imagine outsourcing that part of the project would be ineffective and very expensive. If you do opt to outsource the end-map production, make sure you have all your content and meta data squared away first. You'll also need a good idea of how much content will be on the final map (number of placemarkers; amount of embedded content etc) for a developer to give you an accurate quote.

 

In summary, making the map was a learning curve, but a pretty shallow one. Happy to share additional lessons learned etc if you're interested.

 

Regards, Patric Lane

Health and Science editor, UNC-Chapel Hill

@patriclane

 

Hi Patric,

 

Well the original poster was requesting someone with maps API experience. Using the default tools from My Maps on Google allows you to create a basic map as you suggested on your linked page but this is not using the maps API and also an iFrame. This works perfectly well for certain applications. However, if this is something like your institutions main campus map I highly suggest getting a professional developer for this. A developer can add new functionality, like selectable overlays (such as parking and emergency features), the ability to search things like building codes, having multiple campuses and much more. If it's simply a small business location map then using the My Maps works perfectly fine.

 

I do agree that there is a huge amount of time involved in data collection from your institution and no outside party should do this in my opinion. Someone that has internal contacts and institutional knowledge would be best. Otherwise there will be many corrections and things missed. We collected ours in an Excel file which was then ported into XML and now I've moved it into a MySQL database getting ready for the new Google version.

Good points, Steven - and I'm glad it's not just me who found the data collection takes a big chunk of time. I look forward to seeing your Queens map once it's done - please let me know when it's up. Regards, Patric

Steve,

 

All good answers previous to mine.  Here are my two cents...

 

First, I have a similar need for our campus. Even though we have the programming talent, they're just not available at this time. So, the students have taken it into their own hands. In this case it will be a software engineering II class building it as a fictitious development company. I have been asked to represent the client for the project.  I can keep you posted as to the outcome and if there are any portability options.

 

Second, I am new to the academic arena, 5 months ago I was in the commercial world having founded a web design and app dev firm called Coco Design 16 years ago. Coco has done Google API maps as well as Flash amusement park maps.  I can get you more details if interested.  However, as you have read in other replys, there is a good amount of work in content collection. Don't leave that to a dev firm, it will drive your costs up.  Collect, write and aggregate your data and you may even want to wireframe what you want to archive.  It will speed the process and minimize rework providing for a better outcome.

 

Hope you find this helpful.

Jay

 

Best of luck in whatever path you choose and please post the map link here when complete.

 

 

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