Thursday, September 20, 2007

Yahoo! MapMixer - is a great product!

OK! in my last 2 posts I have written about my varying levels of enthusiasm about Yahoo!'s MapMixer app. In this post I am not going to alter my enthusiasm level for MapMixer - it remains at the same level as previously - It is definitely a great product. I am just going to qualify my last post ( in this one. The product that technically does it all for me is still MSR's MapCruncher. But what good is a product that does it all - but makes it hard to host all those cool overlays that you might have created. It is for this one reason alone - that MapMixer is an excellent custom map creation tool - Yahoo! stores your data for everyone else to see - for what good is your cool overlay unless someone else can benefit from it (after all we do live in the age of 2.0). David from Yahoo wrote rightly in a comment to my last post ((link) that as a web app - it would be hard for MapMixer to do a complex transformation on the fly and after all most of us would have simple maps that would just need scaling and rotation to get it to match with the underlying maps. I whole heartily agree with David - one has to go by the good old 80/20 rule - "if 80% of maps are to scale, then we didn't want to spend 80% of the work accounting for the 20% non-scaled maps". Complex transformations can take a while - MapCruncher sometimes sits processing for a whole minute or so before showing anything. And for all the time I have spent with MapCruncher - I have basically nothing to show the world! MapCruncher gets probably used by a tiny fraction of the web's users who want to make custom maps - those who have access to their own Map tile servers - for the rest of us - I think MapMixer will remain king (until the other 2 add similar features)

Though the one feature that I think MapMixer lacks and that would be nice to have soon would be to load PDF files. A ton of maps on the web are available in the PDF format and currently one would have to manually do a screen capture and then use that as the overlay image. Would be nice if MapMixer could do that for me.

Another thing that amazes me is that for a company as big as Yahoo! - that somebody out there cared for what I wrote about their product and wished to comment about the reasons that MapMixer doesn't do all that MapCruncher does. For a blog that has a very small reader base (probably only me and now David) - it is wonderful to see that they care about what their user base thinks of their products. Way to go Yahoo! devs.

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