Doc Searls: It’s too hard to find and share the coolness of Live Maps

Investigating the location of the WUMB transmitter, Doc Searls notes that while the Live Maps bird’s eye view is awesome, it’s way too hard to find and share.

Finding: For example, if I plug 42° 15′ 27″N, 71° 01′ 44″W into maps.google.com, I go straight to a real x/y place on a map. Live Maps doesn’t know what to do with it.

That appears to be true. If you know the coordinates of a location, you can find it in Google Maps using any of these formats in the search box:

42.257500, -71.028889
42° 15′ 27″N, 71° 01′ 44″W
+42° 15' 27.00", -71° 1' 44.00"

The Live Maps search box doesn’t like any of these. You could search for Hatherly Road, Quincy MA, and find it that way, but the locator page where Doc probably found the coordinates for the transmitter doesn’t know about that address.

True, most people will search for addresses, not coordinates, but I agree with Doc here, there’s no reason not to also support searching by coordinates.

Sharing: I’d show you the Live Maps views, but there’s no way to link to them. Not that I can find, anyway.

Another fair criticism. The workaround is to click Sharing -> Send in email. This launches a mail client with a new message containing the URL:

http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&cp=r18mqy92dxp9&style=o&lvl=1&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&scene=3327738&encType=1

It turns out that you don’t need the default.aspx, and it seems that the minimal working version of that URL is:

http://maps.live.com/?v=2&cp=r18mqy92dxp9&lvl=1&style=o

(The backstory on the URL syntax is here.)

The cp parameter is the map’s center point, and I’m not sure how Live Maps computed the r18mqy92dxp9 in the above URL, but you can also use lat/lon coordinates in decimal form, so a more human-writeable form of the URL is:

http://maps.live.com/?v=2&cp=42.257500~-71.028889&lvl=1&style=o

So it’s doable. And to Doc’s point about lock-in, I’ve done this whole exercise in Firefox on a Mac, so there’s nothing Windows-specific going on here.

But he’s right. I shouldn’t have to work so hard to find, and link you to, the very cool bird’s eye view of the WUMB transmitter.

6 thoughts on “Doc Searls: It’s too hard to find and share the coolness of Live Maps

  1. Doug Walker

    You can also get the link by clicking Sharing -> Copy to clipboard. That copies the url into your clipboard. This works in IE on windows…not sure about other OSes or browsers.

    Reply
  2. Rodd

    I’ve seen a few old stone towers in the Boston area, but nothing quite like the WUMB transmitter before.

    I think there is room for improvement in the way that MSVE saves & plays back viewpoints associated with 3D Map locations. “3D bookmarks” need to record all of the information necessary to see (exactly) what creator was seeing.

    This seems to be a hard problem, not just for MSVE, but for all kinds of other 3D software, including Second Life (where I often teleport into space and find myself in a free fall :-)

    Reply
  3. Pingback: rajsingh.org blog

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