#52WeeksOfCode Week 9 – Google Maps

Week: 9

Language: Google Maps API

IDE(s): MAMP, TextWrangler

Background:

Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.

Gertrude Stein

(Sorry about the late post this week. Real Life[™] sort of caught up with me.)

Common sense would indicate that the more information we have, the better decisions we should be able to make. We currently have the ability to collect and access more information than at any other time in history. This should be a Golden Age where we can solve problems and find answers to questions that have bedeviled mankind since the dawn of time.

This is the premise (somewhat) of what is popularly known as “Big Data”. We have more information than ever and that turns out to be a problem. First, information is not the same as wisdom. We need the tools to analyze information so we can draw conclusions out of it. Unfortunately we have so much of it that most of our current tools are overwhelmed by the sheer volume that needs to be processed.  In addition, information is traditionally kept in ‘silos’, isolated from related content so that it’s difficult to get a complete picture. There is also the trust issue. In other words, it’s hard to convince people or organizations to share their information.

But many companies are still soldiering on, convinced that if only they just knew enough things about enough things, they could accomplish miracles.

No company presents a more public face for Big Data than Google. They not only gather and process massive amounts of information (Google Search, Google Maps, Google News, YouTube, Google Scholar) but they also sell massive amounts of information (targeted ads based on your search terms, your online video preferences, your Gmail messages) as well as give others the ability to process their carloads of data as well (Google Analytics, Google BigQuery). In fact, I use Google Docs for much of my writing and I notice links pop up in the research pane based on what I happen to be typing.

“My internet browser heard us saying the word Fry and it found a movie about Philip J. Fry for us. It also opened my calendar to Friday and ordered me some french fries.”

– Hubert Farnsworth, Futurama, “The Luck of the Fryish”

Discussion:

Google Maps data is accessible to IOS, Android or Web developers. There is plenty of documentation available and I started here. Similar to working with Twitter, you need to create a key to identify yourself when your software talks to Google’s servers. Fortunately this process went much more smoothly than my Twitter experience.

So I used some sample code and, in keeping with the tradition of these posts, modified the HTML code to produce a map that centers on Hello World Communications. Here’s a grab of the browser window:HWC.png

The code I used is here (my API key has been redacted).

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