How does the map work?

How does the map work? What is the technology behind it?

I’ve tried to use the simplest approach I can, especially because I am not an expert on internet technology. Most of the things I use are provided free by Google to anybody with a Google/Gmail account. I’m not a huge fan of some things that Google does to control our lives and exploit our data but I have to admit they provide some excellent resources.

The map was created with the ‘My Maps’ feature in Google Maps and set to be viewable by anybody (you can also create private maps in Google)

You could create a  map like this by hand, adding each entry directly on to the map, there’s a data table feature like a simple spreadsheet that allows you to create the different ‘columns’ of information like Name, Address, Policy, etc

But the magic bit is that you can also import everything from a spreadsheet, most easily with a Google spreadsheet in your personal Google Drive.

And the equally magic bit is that you can set up a Google Form that anybody can use to enter new information to the spreadsheet in a controlled way. Google forms are often used for simple surveys.

So it starts when you add new or updated club/festival information, using one of the two Google forms on the menu above. That is automatically added to the bottom of the spreadsheet.

I have a look at the spreadsheet most days and if there is new data I check that it looks appropriate, check that a suitable map location is included and delete any previous versions of that entry. If the entry is unusual I might change the wording to make that clearer as I can override some of the standard wording that the form requires. I may feel some changes are needed to the text but I’ll check those with the person who submitted the entry.

Then I go to the map to update the data. I create a new layer on the map and import the spreadsheet to that layer, choosing ‘Map Location’ as the location and ‘Event Name’ as the title, that just takes a few clicks. Once it is all displayed I delete the layer that contains the previous version.

When that’s done the map looks a bit ugly since it uses the standard Google place markers and rather odd colours, so I spend a couple of minutes changing the markers to those ‘month’ festival tents or  ‘day of the week’ stars. The whole process of updating the map probably takes around three minutes if there is nothing complicated to do with the new entries that have arrived.

If you time it right and go to the map just when I’m updating, keep refreshing the page and you might see the map change to red flags, then coloured flags then gradually to the day stars or festival tents. Exciting eh?

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