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Interactive Maps and Imagery

Note: This page is now dated by a few years, and in the face of Google "officially" deprecating the Google Maps Version 2 API on Novenber 19, 2013, I've actively ported my clients' maps to Version 3. This is a tad challenging since I provided my geology clients with mashups in V2 incorporating USGS topographic tile overlays and DOQs (Digital Ortho Quads - i.e. aerial photos) from Microsoft's Terraserver to complement Google's satellite and terrain layers. Terraserver is now equally deprecated, and having finsihed the Google Maps v3 port, I'm actively adding topographic maps back in. I'll provde you with more information here when the upgrades are all complete.

Discussion: Several years ago I explored the possibility of undertaking a project to compile and publish a range of topographic map coverage, aerial photographs, and public domain satellite imagery for In the end it proved to be prohibitively costly from the simple perspective of time invested -- quite literally by more than an order of magnitude. So this project was consigned to the "back burner" in 2004.

But revisiting this requirement in September 2009 provided an entirely different outcome. In the intervening time, enter both Google Maps and Microsoft TerraServer with it's access to USGS topographic quadrangle and DOQ (Digital Ortho Quad) "tiles". This project consequently took on an entirely different character following a lapse of five years, today requiring only a single dynamic web page driven by a compilation of map "centerpoints" and other pertinent information which is accessed from's server via JSON/AJAX, and post-processed with client-side JavaScript to deliver any one of 86 full compilations of surface maps, 3D terrain, satellite, and hybrid coverage, topographic, and aerial photography -- actually a richer GIS solution than the original project goal.

Solution: The solution for this requirement, first published in 2009, eventually revolved entirely around the Google Maps API, augmented with "WMS" map overlays which integrate USGS (United States Geological Survey) topographic map tiles and Digital Ortho Quads (aerial photos) from Microsoft's TerraServer. Unlike Google Maps which are based on decimal latitude / longitude pairs, USGS products (usefully but somewhat problematically) employ Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinate projection. So beyond the mostly original js to deliver the maps, I derived the JavaScript code to convert Lat-Long to UTM from the published work of some GIS specialists, and adapted it to incorporate UTM "centerpoint" data for

Interactive Maps — Google Maps API V2

By late 2009 I had published over 95 Google Maps (API2) with a variety of overlays, markers, polygons, html info windows, and other options, and the only quirk I had to seriously debug was my own oversight with JavaScript closures on info windows. Production examples of API V2 interactive maps can be seen here on's website; and another example which incorporates map markers, area polygons, and information bubbles can be seen at the bottom of the page here.

Google Maps API V3

Since late 2010 I've been developing new interactive maps with (and will eventually port older ones to) Google's maps API version 3 since version 2 has now been officially deprecated. Google's version 3 Javascript Developers Guide and API Reference are excellent references. The concepts are similar to V2, the feature set is richer, but the methods and properties are just different enough that I found it simpler to use my old template as ~BNF and re-code for V3, rather than attempting to port directly from V2 and debug.

Here's a V3 example which is a work-in-process from a current project (March 2011):

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