16 Apr 2006

google maps + australia mashup

[Update (18/5/2006): Good news! Google Maps has released street maps for Australia and New Zealand. That renders this little experiment obselete. Thanks everyone for checking this out. Although with that said, Street Directory maps are still better quality ;)]

i have been sitting on this google maps mashup i made for about a month now, not really knowing what to do with it. today, after listening to a podcast about mashups, i thought it was time to show people what the next stage of mashups we should be doing with google maps -- that is combining google map's amazing interface with other map sources.

this creation of mine, i hope, will be useful to australians who wish google will get their act together and add street maps for google maps australia! so here it is -- street maps for australia in google map's style, all in javascript:


i've showed this privately to a few people and at least one of them wished i had done this earlier so he could save hours trying to find a geological structure in perth. the code, for posterity is going to live here at http://mashup.mapmarks.com/aust/maps.js , so grab it while you can. if you have any improvements, i'd be interested to know.

my technique just involves relying on the browser to scale and tile map to compensate for the different in scaling factor between google maps and street-directory.com.au. therefore you'll get artifacts at the joins due to pixel errors. that is purely so the whole mashup is done client side and no images are cached or manipulated on the server and i do not violate anyone's copyright by caching the map tiles. [UPDATE: i'm not a lawyer, so i'm not going to assert that i am not violating any copyright. however, i believe that all i am doing is generating a URL that points to a publicly accessible map tile server. you will notice in the code that i add the copyright information at the bottom of the map when the tiles are in use.]

google maps australia vanilla

this is the reason why i'm did this:


look, there are no street names in google maps australia, not even place names. this is incredibly annoying and uninteresting. i've been waiting over a year for google maps to properly support australia, but i reckon this won't happen any time soon.

application to other places

note that my technique will not work on non-square tile servers such as mapquest, multimap and such. but i've got some ideas on how to get around that, but at the moment, i don't have time to dabble too much into that hack.

i've also played with other map sources, other places where google maps don't have street maps. for instance, china and hong kong. china is an interesting one because google local china already does have street maps, but they don't put it in the google maps format. i'm curious why. and for hong kong, i blogged about this before, it just has no data. hong kong is an odd one because the mapping sites there really suck.


unfortunately, this is an unofficial hack. but you should be able to take the code and run it on your own server. everything is neatly wrapped up in a GMapType for your taking. the code is public domain.

spread it around and tell all your aussie friends to play with it. the least that i want from this is to show google that there is demand for place and street names to appear on google maps for australia.

You can reply to me about this on Twitter: