A Web Developer Looks at Interactive Mapping Solutions From FlashMaps.com

By Scott Clark

In our last article, we looked at flashmap APIs from Yahoo, Google and MapQuest. This time we're going to look at the FlashMaps.com mapping tools that are used by sites including eBay, FoxNews, Adobe and Verizon--and the extensive and flexible options they provide developers.

The FlashMaps website offers various tools and packages to fit each developer's own particular circumstances. They provide three enterprise-level mapping tools: DynamicLocator, DB Mapper and AreaSelector, along with a more basic mapping tool called FindMe!, which is designed to showcase a single location.

FlashMaps' Area Selector

FlashMaps' AreaSelector enables developers to color code areas and plot database listings on an interactive map of a variety of maps, including:

  • world
  • continents
  • countries
  • states/provinces
  • counties
  • townships
  • congressional districts
  • zip codes
  • area codes
  • pretty much any region you need to map

Here you can see AreaSelector being used to show the United States, with a search function allowing searches via State, zip code and city population:

FlashMaps AreaSelector

And here it is showing the full map of the world:

FlashMaps AreaSelector World

And when you click on a country, it looks like this:

FlashMaps AreaSelector Country

For developers who wish to do some customizations, there is an AreaSelector API Reference (JavaScript and Flash) and Flashmaps AreaSelector Developer's Guide available.

AreaSelector itself comes to you as a series of pre-built maps and Flash files in swf format. Embedding it into a web page is a simple cut & paste process--the HTML code is also provided, along with a sample page so you can test it out "out-of-the-box". Integrating AreaSelector into your database is another simple process, and documentation is also provided for doing so. Prices for AreaSelector begin at $399 for mapping solutions using USA states, with other prices for packages that include Canada and its provinces, world continents and countries, and European countries.

FlashMaps' DynamicLocator

DynamicLocator provides developers with a way to map their local directory listing, such as a mall, conference, warehouse, office, flea market or other facility, allowing users to drill down and find a specific location using a familiar interface. Here is an example of Flashmaps' DynamicLocator in action, in this instance, showing a map of a warehouse:

FlashMaps Dynamic Locator

Developers are able to enable users to live connect to your databases, allowing them to find exactly where they need to go, using the familiar Flash interface. By using DynamicLocator, developers can match the look and feel of the mapping application to their current website. Prices start at $899, with additional fees for a custom floorplan design, interface customization and development of custom functionality. Users who are not familiar or comfortable with installation work can purchase 5 extra hours of support and product integration for $250 (for each instance that is purchased, developers get 2 hours of support by phone or email).

FlashMaps' DB Mapper

If you are looking to map several locations, such as store or business locations, FlashMaps' DB Mapper is an excellent choice for developers. DB Mapper enables developers to create interactive, street-level Flash maps for US and Canadian locations. Users are able to drill down for additional information on the map, show and hide categories, and use interactive navigation tools, as shown in thie screen shot below:

FlashMaps DB Mapper

Here's a shot of DB Mapper being used for a real estate application:

FlashMaps DB Mapper Real Estate

Interactive navigation tools allow users to zoom in, zoom out, scroll, use a magnifying glass to enlarge the screen, and even print the map. The toolbar can be edited, developers can add additional buttons, change the color scheme, create new icons and add additional info for the pop-up window (such as pictures, video and audio, etc.). Prices for DB Mapper start at $399 for a map that covers less than 230 square miles, and go all the way up to 50,000 miles, for one mapped location. For more than one map location, packages start at $495 for 10 locations, all the way up to 5,000 locations. Additional services such as a custom interface, extra width or height to the interface, or additional domain usage, are available at an extra cost.

FlashMaps' FindMe! Dynamic and FindMe! Static

For developers who only want to put on Flash mapped location on their site, FlashMaps also has an entry level pair of products called FindMe! Static and FindMe! Dynamic.

FlashMaps FindMe! Static

FindMe! Static, shown above, utilizes three GIF-based maps that showcase a specific address. For those who do not want to use Flash for whatever reason, FindMe! Static is a decent alternative, especially for the price of $7.95! For those developers who want a Flash-based solution, FlashMaps' FindMe! Dynamic also focuses on a specific address. The current price of FindMe! Dynamic is $39.95, but FlashMaps has a special promotion going that allows each registered developer one free copy of FindMe! Dynamic. You can see it in action in the screenshot below:

FlashMaps FindMe! Dynamic

Conclusion

As you can see, FlashMaps.com offers a number of highly flexible, interactive solutions for creating Flash-based mapping solutions. From the high-end AreaLocator, DynamicLocator and DB Mapper, to the low-end FindMe! Dynamic & Static, developers can create a satisfying user experience that enables users to easily find the specific location they are looking for.



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