I have a project planned for this blog in 2013 — a series of blog posts touring the village of Cotuit each accompanied by photographs of the relevant landmark or neighborhood. I want to use a map of the village as a “table of contents” — either by adapting Google Maps or Google Earth into a dynamic interface, using the “pin” function to mark each spot and then link that spot deeper into a specific blog post.
The idea of turning an image into something interactive is fairly basic. Making a “clickable” gif is old hat to Web 1.0 designers, who could embed hyperlinks into an image with Photoshop. I did that for the homepage image of Churbuck.com — the learning curve sucked and the image was not very dynamic, just a couple words such as “People” and “Places” with links into pages. Google Picasa and Flickr both allow a subscriber to place specific photos on a public map, and Google Earth allows a cartographer to create custom KML files to create tours, routes, or “photo walks” with pictures linked from a Picasa account.
Ideally I’d like to embed a Google Map “window” into a WordPress page — let’s call it the table of contents for the project with links to all of the posts in the series as well as any photographs — I load into the posts. I definitely want that map within the blog page to be dynamic and not a static link to Google Maps itself. There is a WordPress plugin I’m playing with — Leaflet Maps Marker — but I haven’t played with it enough to determine if its the solution to my challenge. Another WordPress plug in is “XML Google Maps” but its developer notes he doesn’t have the time to maintain it, so I stand the risk of it falling out of compatibility with a future refresh of the WordPress code.
Google Earth has great tagging capabilities — I can mark a spot and add to the “flag” a link to any webpage or blog post as well as embed a still image from a hosted photo, e.g. a Flickr photo’s URL. but Earth is a fairly heavy program and I don’t want to force readers to light up their copy of Earth to navigate the project.
If anyone has any suggestions on how to adapt a dynamic map (not a static image of one) to serve as an index or table of contents to a blogging project about a specific territory or town, please chime in.