While preparing for a presentation on Location Intelligence for an innovation award, I wanted to do something different. When we are talking about innovation, I thought it would be befitting to do the presentation in an innovative manner. Why choose the same old boring Microsoft Powerpoint as the medium. Too mundane!! To quote Fido Dido (the 7 UP character) “Normal is boring”.
What better medium could there be than Google Maps when we are talking about Location Intelligence? So how do I use Google Maps to make a presentation with slides? Hmm.. that got me thinking. That kept me thinking for most of the evening and finally two ideas struck me while I was driving back home. (Personally I am able to think better while driving. I do not know what, why and how. May be I am more relaxed and less distracted while driving. But with the traffic it is hard to believe that there are less distractions ;)).
The two ideas were to use:
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Google Maps programming:
TileLayer is a mechanism through which one can add their own tiles on top of the tiles that are served by Google Maps or you can serve just your tiles instead of Google Maps’ tiles. Tiles are nothing but 256px by 256 px images that are stitched together at the browser by Google Maps to show you the maps. The number of tiles rendered depend on the zoom level and the size of the map.You can see an example of TileLayer in action at my WiTelMac post on my external photography blog.
Steps to get Powerpoint slides to show up on Google Maps:
- Use a tool like MSR Mapcruncher to create tiles from the slide images
- Choose an appropriate zoom level so that the images fill the browser screen for the given resolution
- Make Google Maps to use your custom tile layer
- Define the bounds within which you are going to display the images
- Add a GroundOverlay to take the image URL and overlay on top of the maps
As you can see, the GroundOverlay option is easier to implement. It might also provide a smoother transition from one slide to another especially when you are on a slow internet connection.
For both these options you will also have to come up with some algorithm to move to the next slide and go back to the previous slide. For this I wrote a ‘keypress’ event handler to handle “N” and “>” for going to the next slide and “B” and “<” for the previous slide.
What were the results? Here are some screenshots.
Then I tried to make the second option a little bit more interesting by panning the map to some location randomly so that the background for the slide keeps changing randomly.
That is how one can create Google Maps powered presentations.
NOTE: We finally went with the traditional MS Powerpoint mode to present the content as we were doing the presentation over the phone and we wanted to take the safe path.