Archive for the ‘Interface’ Category

Share and create personal maps on Stickymap

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

We’ve recently implemented a really cool tool that allows every user to create his own maps and share them with friends. To create a map with locations of your choice just follow a few easy steps.

First, find the marker that you would like to place in your map. If the marker already exists, then move to step two. If the marker does not exist, then you’ll have to create it. Just use the marker creation tool to quickly create the marker.

Second, tag the marker with an appropriate description. If you’re having trouble understanding the tagging system, think of the tags as categories. Just place the marker in a category that best describes the marker.

Third, go to your Stickymap personal profile page and create a personal map of the markers that you tagged. Please understand that the tagging feature is only available to users who are registered.

Let us know if you have any questions or trouble creating your maps.


Marker Creation Update

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

This week we continue working on marker creation. The new marker creation app is going to be a lot more user friendly than the old. Here I describe a few of the changes we’ll be making. Keep your suggestions coming!

1) We’re going to make good use of the infowindows in Google Maps. These are bubbles that appear above the markers. They will be positioned correctly, so we don’t have to worry about them hiding the view of the actual marker.

2) The interface will include our new and improved icon selector, which will appear on a redesigned, dynamic sidebar and/or in an infowindow.

3) Google Map’s marker dragging feature will allow users place the marker just where they want it. It smooth and must easier to use and understand.

4) The FCK editor – which is the fancy text area used for marker descriptions – will be loaded only when it is needed. This means it will no longer have to be loaded when first going to, which will improve our load times.

New Google Maps Features

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

When we first started Stickymap in December 2005, the Google Maps API did not have all of the features that it has today. This led us to skip over some desired functionality and in some cases come up with complex workarounds. Now that we’re once again revising the site, we’re going to include some of these new Google features. Here are three examples:

1) Scroll-wheel Zoom. On Google Maps, users can use their scroll wheel to quickly zoom in and out of the map. This makes Stickymap difficult to use for Google Maps users, because their scroll wheel does not work. In our latest version, users will be able to use their scroll wheel to zoom in and out of the map.

2) Google geocoding. Geocoding is the act of taking a string representing an address, city, or zip code and turning it into latitude and longitude coordinates which we need for searching and placing markers on the map. Now that Google has it’s own geocoding routine, we’re going to use it.

3) Marker Dragging. Google now allows markers to be draggable. This is going to be very useful (and more user friendly) when creating and moving markers. We’ll be exploring use of the dragging feature.


Beta testing our Community Group tool

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

In January of 2006, we announced that Neighborhood Resources LLC was going to be launching a new feature, the Community Group tool; a utility that helps groups of all types (foundations, non profits, associations, religious groups, development associations, clubs, etc) create interactive maps for their communities. Last week, we started our beta tests with several groups in the New Haven area. While at first, the groups ran into several bugs, they have all bared with us and have begun to create maps of their neighborhoods. We realize that we are fortunate to find groups that are willing to take the time to help us develop and refine this feature, which we believe will be a useful tool in building communities. Please let us know if you would like to volunteer to Beta test the Community Group feature, which we expect will be available to the public around October.


Rethinking Marker Creation

Monday, June 25th, 2007

With the new icon selector up, our attention has turned to the marker creation process.  It certainly could be made easier to post markers.  Some options are confusing and slow the user’s momentum.

We’ve been internally discussing possible improvements.  The marker creation box currently appears over the map, and sometimes it obstructs the view of the location of the desired post.  That’s certainly an unnecessary speed bump.

What we have found is that these changes may require a whole reworking of the sidebar.  We’re also looking into an interface where once the marker is created, a “bubble” pops up over the marker where you can input the rest of the information like title, description, photos, and tags.  I invite the readers of this blog to share their thoughts on how marker creation should work.


New Icon Selector

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Today, we released the new icon selector on Instead of having to look through the tree structure, there’s a single general search to find the icon you are looking for. Hopefully, this framework will m ake it easier for you to find the icon that you want.

The new selector appears in four places: the sifter, marker creation, changing marker “settings”, and editing a marker’s description. Changing the icon can be done through either the marker’s settings or through changing it’s description. This is because we used to have it all done on one page (the change description page). There should probably be a single, easy to access place to change the icon of a marker.

If you are a user, let us know what you think of the new icon controller. Do you find it easier to use? How do you think we can improve it? Shortly, we’re going to take a look at marker creation, and try to make that easier to use. The new icon selector is just one step in this initiative.


Choosing Your Icons

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

There are over 150 different icon images to choose from in Stickymap. When users create a marker, or use the sifter, they are asked to choose one specific icon. In order to find the icon that they are looking for, the users have to struggle through categories and sub-categories in order to find the one they want. This is a tedious process, and even when a user has a particular icon in mind, it’s not always clear which category to look under.

That’s why we’re working on a new way to search icons – the 21st century way. No longer will users have to click and unclick categories, unsure of what they’ll find. The new icon selector will be simple: users will just type in what they’re looking for in a search box, and the relevent choices will pop up. Users can use their own logic; they won’t be confined to ours.

This hasn’t been easy to implement, but so far it’s going more smoothly than expected. If you are a stickymap user, how can we make selecting an icon even easier for you? Let us know – and look out for this new interface feature in the near future.


Laying out a complicated homepage

Monday, June 11th, 2007

We just started working with a graphics designer to create our new home page. So far, we’ve had some useful discussion and results. Over the next few weeks, we plan to continue to refine the look and feel of the homepage so that it is easier for our users to interact with the software. We have always found it challenging to present our technology in an “easy to use” interface; it’s complicated and requires the user to make educated decisions. We do not want to create a homepage that is overwhelming. So, we’ve been testing out a few concepts with test subjects and we’re training a quality assurance intern to help us perfect our new homepage.
Please let us know if you would like to help us complete our project. We would especially be interested in graphic designers who would be interested in volunteering a few hours to offer advice and direction.