Although Google Maps remains a popular choice for Rapidweaver websites that need to display maps, periodic changes in the way that Google allows third parties to access its mapping data have introduced some extra hoops that need negotiating. Since the whole concept of a stack is that you just drop it onto the page, change a setting here and there and then publish, this has introduced a level of unwanted complexity for some users.
The OpenStreetMap project has been around for about 10 years with the express purpose of sharing freely re-usable geographical data – so no API keys to worry about – and it’s likely to remain easy to access for the life of the project.
Here’s how it works. Add the OpenStreetMap stack to your Stacks page and then hop over to the OpenStreetMap website and type in the post code for the address you want to use. When the location’s displayed on the map, click the Share button and a settings panel slides open on the right. From here you’ll want to copy and paste the latitude and longitude of your chosen location (this sounds complicated but isn’t – the two numbers you require are obvious and InStacks has placeholders in the stack’s settings pane so you can make sure that you’re copying and pasting the right numbers into the right fields).
You can add up to five markers onto a single map which is useful if you need to include multiple locations of different shops, for example – again, these are positioned using latitude and longitude. There are 18 different map styles to choose from a drop down menu and you can set both the map zoom level and the height of the map for different devices; usefully you can also disable touch device gestures and desktop zoom, thus avoiding the dreaded why-am-I-looking-at-this-map-from-outer-space that can occur when off-handedly scrolling through a site.
Drawbacks? OpenStreetMap gets locations wrong more often than Google Maps does, so if the position of the address you want to use isn’t accurate, then you’re out of luck – unless you want to contribute to the project by taking the time to correct the data, which is how OpenStreetMap develops and improves its service.
Overall, this is a fine little stack which offers a useful alternative to the more common Google map and is sure to find its way onto many a Rapidweaver ‘Contact Us’ page both now and in the future.