Archive for June, 2007

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.


Article in the Knoxville News Sentinel

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Kevin Saylor wrote about this week in his Web Watch column in the Knoxville News Sentinel. Saylor emphasized the unique openness of our site that allows users to post any reasonable information related to a geographic location. He writes, “It’s sort of like graffiti, only it’s legal, it’s on the Internet, and you won’t accidentally get spray paint on your pants”.

As a result of this article, our hit count has grown considerably in the state of Tennessee. Saylor also went on to described our main features.

“Even if you don’t care about expanding technology, you’ll enjoy adding your favorite stores and neighborhoods to the map. Using the site’s database, you can search through Yahoo’s yellow pages and address locator. Or you can view markers by their different types. Or just use it like a regular map, if you want to be boring about it.”

Those features are a very important part of our integrated technology, and I can’t wait until we give these features a makeover in the next couple of months and they become a lot easier and seamless for the average user. The full article is located here:

Kevin Saylor’s Web Watch:


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.



Friday, June 22nd, 2007

As of today, we have over 9,000 locations documented on Stickymap!  Thanks to all of our uses who have contributed to this 9,000.  When we reach 10K, I’ll try to break the numbers down by region.  We’re considering having a running counter on the site when we do some redesigns – and I’m sure user opinion on this issue will affect our decision.


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.


Creating a Web 3.0 Local Search

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

For the past week, we’ve been developing our local search capabilities and the results have been fantastic. We’ve decided to take a very challenging but innovative approach; to combine our Stickymap content with Yahoo! Local content and the Google Geocoding tool. When we introduce our new interface in a few weeks, our algorithm will search through the Stickymap database, the Yahoo! Local database, and the Google Geocoder database to return the most relevant results. While writing algorithms that return merged results from multiple databases is nothing new, we believe that we’re the first to implement this method for user generated content in local search. We are very excited to hear your thoughts and can not wait to make this interface available to our users.

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.

Registering for our automated emails.

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

I’m glad to see this project move forward and this blog is going to be a great reference and forum for the work that we’ve been doing.

One of the great things about Stickymap is that we allow users to share their unique geographic information. Given this goal, we need to upgrade our system for registering and activating users. Activation is the process whereby users prove that they own a given email address by clicking a link sent to their inbox. Today we found a bug in the activation email where the URL was given out incorrectly. I fixed the problem so that future emails will be correct, and even the incorrect activation URLs will now work as expected. Thanks to all the users who took the time to send us an email and alert us to the problem!

We’re currently working on a system of nicer HTML emails. Some users have reported that of our registration emails have ended up in their spam folder. It seems that the evil spammers have made it difficult even to send requested emails. We’re looking at ways to reduce the likelihood of our emails being sent to the spam folder. We’d appreciate anyone’s ideas and expertise.

In the future when this system is improved, look for more advanced automated email options: you’ll be able to watch points of interest for changes, or perhaps receive messages through your profile. Please send us any other ideas you may have.