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Google Brings Map Mashups To The Masses

The point-and-click interface helps nonprogrammers draw lines and shapes, and add place mark icons, text, photos, and videos.

Google wants to make everyone a mapmaker. The search company on Thursday introduced My Maps, a service that lets users create and customize Google Maps.

Developers have been doing just that since Google made its Maps API available. Being able to use Google's code and add in your own bells and whistles has resulted in sites like, which combine sales and location information on one page. With My Maps, Google opens map mashup creation to noncoders.

Google is following the footsteps of Microsoft, which on Tuesday, updated its Live Maps service with the ability to publish GeoRSS annotations, among other additions. GeoRSS is a way to encode location information in RSS feeds, which can then be used in a mashup. Ask also recently added map annotation tools to AskCity, its local search and mapping service.

My Maps offers a point-and-click interface for map customization. Users can draw lines and shapes, and add place mark icons, text, photos, and videos. Customized maps can be accessed via a shareable URL. They also can be viewed in Google Earth if imported as a KML file. Google provides an easy way to do this: the KML button on the orange Google Maps navigation bar.

Users also have the option of publishing customized maps for inclusion in Google Maps search results. Unpublished maps are private only to the extent that the URL is not included in Google Maps search results listings; those who know the URL will be able to access the customized map unless the creator deletes it.

Google is offering several examples of what kind of customizations are possible. These include: America's Highway: Oral Histories of Route 66, Around Japan in 28 Days, and the 2004 Presidential Election.

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