BOOK REVIEW: Map Scripting 101

I can hardly remember the dark ages of online maps, back when Mapquest and Yahoo! gave us static images of streets and neighborhoods that could only be printed and later cursed at when their confusing mess got us horribly lost. I suppose it really wasn’t that bad, but it’s hard to recall now that we have had the dynamic map experiences given to us by Google Maps and later Bing, Yahoo! and even Mapquest.

From a web developer’s standpoint, these Ajax-driven map applications have given us the opportunity to embed navigable maps on our clients’ websites. Many developers stop there, with only the vaguest knowledge of a vast API and tools for customizing maps and building apps that leverage geolocation to provide a far more useful experience. Map Scripting 101 by Adam Duvander puts the spotlight on these advanced APIs and proves the tools are out there to make maps do practically anything you want.

Map Scripting 101 focuses on the three major online map websites—Google Maps, Bing and Yahoo!—but a lot of the book employs a particular API called Mapstraction that translates code to be applied to the three map APIs. I came to really like Mapstraction because I can code once and apply it to any of the three map APIs, and it’s also just easy to use. You do need to have some programming expertise to make the most of Map Scripting 101 but the examples are easy to follow for novices as well as advanced coders. (Adam subtitled the book “an example-driven guide” for a reason.)

Map Scripting 101 succeeds at being a really useful book—the examples and exercises are not only easy to follow but return excellent results and really useful apps. If you slog through the rest of the book, the final chapter—”Mashup Projects”—brings all the learning together in really neat projects such as a music event locator map, Twitter tweet geolocator, and a useful weather map. Adam uses all the most useful languages for web developers and designers—HTML, JavaScript, jQuery, PHP and JSON—so many web developers will feel comfortable plugging into the map APIs and building something really useful.

I really enjoyed reading Map Scripting 101 because the exercises were not too difficult or easy, the results were powerful and engaging, and the book illuminates one of the most powerful tools the World Wide Web has given us in the last five years. I can’t think of a better resource for map scripting and development than this book.

Map Scripting 101
Adam Duvander
Published by No Starch Press
US $34.95
Rating: 10/10

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