Toward the end of last week I made an impromptu decision to get to grips with making maps. Not so much in the form of deciding to become a cartographer but more along the lines of learning the tricks behind making Google MyMaps with lots of mashed up stuff on them.

And thanks to Stuart Harrison, Andrew Beeken and the Easy Maps session at LocalGovCamp Lincoln I achieved my aim! I am now the proud (and yeah, slightly smug) creator of one Mashed Up MyMap!!!

Andrew had given a me a quick step by step via Twitter on Thursday last week and I think that certainly made me feel a little more confident going into Stuart’s session on Friday. However, while they might seem magical when you don’t know how the good news is that MyMaps isn’t that hard once you do!

So, in the spirit of sharing here is a little step-by-step of the basics of plotting a point and adding some image / video and text content into the description. If you’d like to see Stuart explain it with a demo then Suraj Kika of Jadu CMS made a video of his LocalGovCamp Lincoln session (including how to embed it in a web page using Jadu CMS).

How to create an interactive Google map in JaduCMS

So in 10 steps here is how to set up a map, add a location point and add an image and some text to that point. Ok – mouse at the ready? Then we’ll begin!

  1. First things first – head over to Google Maps and make sure you are logged in (if you need to create an account go ahead, I’m not going to descibe that here).
  2. In the header bar for the right hand column find the link to My Maps (under the logo. Got it? Good). Give that a click.
  3. If you have created maps before they will be listed here for you to edit or go back to. To create a new map use the Create New Map link under the header bar.
  4. Give your map a title and a brief description then decide whether to set it as public (will be open to all and appear in search results) or Unlisted (shared only with people you invite). Click on Done (back under the header bar).
  5. This will change the right side panel to show the details of your map while the map (left) pane shows, wait for it, a map! You can now click on the Edit button under the header bar to start placing things on the map.
  6. Navigate around the map as you would a map you were viewing on Google using the zoom and slide etc. Once you have found your location choose the ‘Add a Placemark’ pin icon (middle of the three) from the top of the map and stick it in your location by clicking over where you want it. Top Tip – switch to satelite view to get the positioning spot on.
  7. If you don’t like the standard pin icon you can change it by clicking on the pin image box in the top left of the location description pane and selecting from the library of image – tea cups, different colour pins, picnic tables and warning symbols – go ahead and pick a pin! You can add your own but that’s the advanced tutorial which I haven’t learnt enough to write yet!
  8. Now let’s get mashing. Give the place mark a title. You can then choose to add details from either the Plain or Rich text view or HTML edit. I’m keeping this basic so go find an image related to this point on the map from elsewhere on the web (like Flickr), right click and copy image location.
  9. Go back to the map and select the Rich text view. Click on the Add Image icon in the edit panel (furthest left) and in the box which appears paste the URL and click ok. Your image should appear in the map description box.
  10. Move your cursor under the image and add any text you need or want – you can style it using the rich text fields. Click on ok and repeat steps six-10 to add more points to your map!!!!

And there you have it – 10 steps to getting locations plotted and images added. I haven’t quite worked out how to add video yet or tried to embed a map in a web page but I’m taking baby steps.

I thought making maps was incredibly technical (and no doubt being a cartogrpaher or doing full on GIS mapping is a specialised skill I fully respect) but once I’d got the step-by-step and been encouraged by Stuart and Andrew I found it quick and simple. It’s also quite fun (may be a novelty!) and pretty exciting in a ‘I Made This’ sort of way.

Anyway – you can see my first attempt  – I present to you the United Cakedom map.

There wasn’t a pledge wall as such at LocalGovCamp Lincoln but during the session I felt compelled to tweet my personal pledge to get a map like this on our website. Perhaps I was carried away in the moment but I still feel that is a good aim and my practice attempts (with info from mmmmmmcake) has been an excellent start to making good on that pledge.

So come on non-techy content people – get mashing, get mapping!