Wednesday, November 01, 2006

New Firefox Extensions: All Your Maps Are Belong to Us

Here are the three latest mapping/GIS extensions for the Firefox browser that I have come across.

Previous lists of Firefox mapping extensions: 12/05, 01/06, 05/06

Why use Firefox over IE on Windows? Two reasons. First, the Active-X security settings in IE make it difficult to download detailed tables from the American Factfinder website (as I rant about here). Second, IE displays Google Map markers too slowly as its security settings send a request for each marker individually. Now, if you want to see some real speed, fire up Opera browser and navigate to your favorite mashup, perhaps even this one...

First, let's talk about All Your Maps Are Belong To Us, developed by John Morrissey. "Translates URLs for other mapping sites to Google Maps." This extension automatically converts MapQuest links to Google Map links. Now, you've got to love that super-cool title. For example, this extension will automatically replace this MapQuest link with this Google Map link. In fact, if/once you install this extension, you will see two identical Google Map links there.

The idea behind the extension can work for those who very much prefer Google Maps to MapQuest. As I understand it, links to MapQuest are more prevalent on the web than links to any other mapping site, so this extension can have some utility. However, I dislike the automatic replacing of links. This extension might work with other services as well, but I could not identify any. It goes off my computer after submitting this post.

Second, let's talk about GMiF, or Google Maps in Flickr, developed by CK. "GMiF is an third party add-on of Flickr. It will embed a Google Maps in Flickr photo page and display where the photo was taken on the maps, if the photo is geotagged." This extension is fantastic. It works great and even makes it easy to geotag images as well. Also see Photo Map, which I blogged about earlier.

This is a topic of interest for our students here. I am aware of two graduate students currently working on research papers involving geotagging images. One is for a GPS class and the other is for an Information Systems class. I will definitely send them a link to this extension.

Third, let's talk about Get directions from Google Maps, developed by Archibald Packwood. "Highlight an address on a web page, right click the mouse, and choose "Locate on Google Map" menu item, to see the location at Google Maps and find the directions." Now, I hesitated to even include this extension here as it seems to be the same-old-same-old. Installed it, and alas, nothing new or novel here. Tons of similar extensions out there, such as Map+, Map This, MapIt!, GDirections, and Select Search.

New Non-Mapping Extensions of Interest:
  • People Search and Public Record Toolbar
    • Developed by Skip Trace
    • "Version 1.0 of our popular free people search and public record menu for Firefox contains
      dozens of the web's most popular and powerful free people search and public record sites."
    • This toolbar actually does contain mapping functionality, similar to Get directions from Google Maps
    • Now, we can go to great lengths to rationalize the use of tools
  • Data Analytics
    • Developed by Charles Verdon
    • "DataAnalytics is a Firefox extension that enables importation, manipulation, analysis and graphing of data."
    • Seems a bit clunky to me, but this extension is currently in alpha development. I currently use the TableTools extension (which I discussed here) to filter, organize, and export HTML tables, but Data Analytics seems potentially capable of so much more. Data Analytics begins to pull the power of spreadsheet software into the browser to interact with supposedly static HTML tables. I am definitely going to keep an eye on this extension as it is developed further.


Anonymous said...

awesome extensions, thanks for compiling! also great that you set an example to become a vegan couple of month ago.
but creating and referencing maps that show "concentrations" of afghan people in US is sick! is this you favorite mashup? why not show incidence of human rights violations by american soldiers in afghanistan? this would probably result in more "impressive" maps... take responsibility in geospatial content generation!

bojster said...

"For example, this extension will automatically replace this MapQuest link with this Google Map link. In fact, if/once you install this extension, you will see two identical Google Map links there."

Umm... I *don't* have the extension installed and I still see two identical Google Maps links... Magic? :-P

mapz said...

hehehe... Thanks for the comments.

My favorite mashup is actually SRC's demographic map. Very cool how they generate those 1 and 5-mile demographics.

The Afghan mashup is the most sophisticated one that we (the library) developed. It is very heavily used for freshmen doing research on Afghan residents in the US, so from the standpoint of education and exposure to geospatial technologies, this is indeed my favorite mashup.

mapz said...

Bojster, that deep, powerful, and dark magic has been removed.

Seriously, though, thank you very much for telling me about this. See what trouble this extension can get folks in to?

Google People said...

Thanks for coming up with the extensions! I have been using firefox for the past three years and it has been so much easier than my previous life with internet explorer. Sites like Google People Search come up so much more easily now.

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reverse lookup said...

I'm having trouble getting this extension to work with the beta 4.0 version of Firefox, trying to browse this reverse phone lookup site.

Alice Taylor said...

Thank you for such a sweet tutorial - all this time later, I've found it and love the end result. I appreciate the time you spent sharing your skills.

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