All entries for Tuesday 08 February 2005

February 08, 2005

New "Stuck for ideas" questions

Follow-up to More "Stuck for ideas" questions from Autology: John Dale's blog

February's contributions to the "Stuck for ideas" questions are now up. It could just be me, but they seem to be getting more esoteric. Your favourite translation of Dickens into Finnish can't be far away…

Google maps

Writing about Google maps from Hannah's handbag

Hannah points out Google Maps which is a very nice interactive map tool, albeit one that's limited to the US and Canada right now. It's not that maps on the web are a new idea; after all there's MultiMap, MapQuest, MSN Maps and various others (and some of them have features that Google Maps doesn't, like creating Mobile pages for your Pocket PC, or trip planning, or alternate routes), but once again, Google score on the elegance of the interface.

Like Google Suggest and GMail, Maps uses dHTML and javascript to offer an interface that's miles nicer than anyone else's – drag the map to scroll around it, or use the arrow keys on your keyboard, plus the map only redraws the bits of itself it needs to, so you don't lose context.

As many commentators noted with GMail and Suggest, they're raising the bar on what people will come to expect from web interfaces. They're showing that you don't need a complete page reload to change visible data, that you can use keyboard shortcuts just like in a desktop application, that you can directly interact with your data. We might need to raise our client-side programming game. :-)

As an aside, is it just me, or are Google turning out new things faster than is even vaguely plausible? In the last few weeks alone, I count Maps, Video, Suggest and Scholar, and a complete list of Google applications now includes:-

  • Web search, Groups search, News search, Image search, Catalog search, Google alerts, Froogle, Compute, Sets, Desktop search, Toolbar, GMail, Print search, Scholar, Suggest, Video search, Maps, Blogger, Picasa, Keyhole, Translate, Appliances (including the new Google Mini).

Some of these are acquisitions, to be fair, and some of them are re-uses of the same core technology, but still, it's a pretty big portfolio, up from just "Search", what, three years ago?

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