Incubate Google Maps With Geocubes

One day, our online experiences will evolve around our location in space, instead of just our keyword queries and search history. As of today, mapping tools are still pretty basic and not so easy to play with. MyMaps was a move towards user-generated maps. The first obvious concern from this initiative was the maps’ markers overload, or crowded maps.

I already blogged about Click2Map and its auto-clustering feature. Lately, another provider stepped in with an original solution for crowded maps: Geocubes. Geocubes will slurp in your geodata, create markers on a Google Maps, and cluster those markers into cubes:

Geocubes clusters geo-referenced data into squares showing the number of points in the area. This allows a visitor to zoom into the squares and see the results.
This avoids indistinct point-clouds. To achieve this, geocubes displays an overlay over the Google Map integrated into the page. Like the underlying map, the geocubes overlay is requested by the client through a JavaScript command.

To compare this with Click2Map clustering feature, the Geocubes feature is very appealing in terms of design. The experience is actually very different: When you click on a Geocubes’ cube, it zooms in to stretch the map and show the withheld markers. When you click on a Click2Map’s cluster point, it pops a window open to show a scroll down list of the withheld markers.

For each movement in the map – zoom or scroll – both map and geocubes overlay are fetched again. So the whole process runs perfectly in combination with Google Maps – and it is just as easy to integrate!

Geocubes’ design has some merit, and it is worth playing around with it, mostly since the service will be fully free up until February 28th. It lacks other types of products that existing Google Maps third-party developers have already built, but maps’ navigability is still the number 1 issue when it comes to mainstreaming mapping tools, so any new contestant in this space is more than welcome to join the party.