May 272010

These days everyone is making maps, which is great!  As more an more geographic data is made available on the internet everyone is trying to display it on a map (how it should be displayed).  Unfortunately, most of the time when people/organizations start to display this data they start from scratch, writing their own custom mapping plugin leveraging something like the Google Maps API.  Other times people install Drupal or MediaWiki plugins to hack in map support, but none of these solutions solve the underlying problem: people want an easy way to embed more than just a Google Map in a webpage, they need some sort of framework to interact with the underlaying map data.

My goal for Flagship Geo is to develop a framework for geo-data that can easily be plugged in to existing applications or stand on its own, allowing users to generate maps with points, polygons, and paths.  You’re right to recognize Google has implemented a lot of this functionality with their Google Map Maker tool but unfortunately their tool is limited to Google Maps (i.e no Bing, Yahoo, Open Street Map, or alike) and the data completely lives in Google.  You can’t add a line of code or two to your existing model to instantly plot it on a map AND keep things synced up.

From a more technical angle, I’m going to be writing most of this in Ruby on Rails, probably starting with the latest beta3 release.  I’m not quite sure how I’m going to handle the multi-map-vendor display bit, but I’m interested in diving into JavaScript to see if I can whip up a single library that wraps multiple map providers APIs.