Wednesday 11 July 2007 — This is nearly 16 years old. Be careful.
I stumbled on an awesome new feature of Google Maps yesterday: once you’ve plotted a route for driving directions, if you hover over the route on the map, a little square appears, with the hover help “Drag to change route”. Drag the square, and the route dynamically changes to go through the point you are dragging. The list of driving directions update as well, of course, with your dragged point included as a new intermediate milestone.
I showed this to a co-worker, who literally stared slack-jawed as my driving path wiggled all over the screen, and then finally said, “That’s impossible!”. What he meant was, it’s impressive to be able to make server round trips as you drag, with enough responsiveness to serve new route images quickly enough to get that dynamic and fluid feel.
Other stuff: once you have multiple milestones in your driving directions, you can drag and drop them to reorder them, and there’s an “avoid highways” checkbox to stick to the scenic routes.
The amazing gets amazinger. Funny to discover it by accident, though. Isn’t there a blog that announces these things? The Official Google Blog has bigger fish to fry (acquisitions, global warming, privacy concerns). Turns out Google Maps Mania is the place, and had the news about draggable driving directions two weeks ago.
On the other hand, I can see how having a successful startup be acquired by a large corporation while still keeping the spirit alive and spending time with your family can remove some of your spare "reading the blogs" time.
As I blogged, its not that Google did it, its that it took them (and the rest) this long to do it. Yahoo! actually had something similar first, but it was crippled and well hidden (as if they were ashamed of its functionality or something). I'm glad they are finally allowing some flex in the directions preference beyond "highway vs. not"...
But won't it be better when you can say in the Directions box: "From home to Bob's house via Rt 80 but avoid Holland tunnel"...
Thanks for the hints about dragging/dropping intermediate stops, I'd missed that.
I'm constantly amazed by the stuff Google produces. Last week I came across their custom search engines for the first time. Last night I finished my first pass of a custom search engine wrapped up in a Google gadget. And they make it easy to add to any web page. So I'm using the Google infrastructure to let me provide targeted searches for myself, or anyone else for that matter.
And I assume you've seen Google 411. I hope they can keep producing this crazy but useful functionality.
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