Here at the Hub we have been working on creating a Google Maps mash-up for the past few weeks, and it is finally live on the Hub and accessible from our repositories page at http://www.archiveshub.ac.uk/inst/index.html
It uses an XML document that lists each contributor with their latitude and longitude in order to create the markers – you can see the XML page at http://www.archiveshub.ac.uk/inst/locations.xml if you are interested in such things.
The main HTML page simple links to the XML page and includes the script and information about the map itself.
I tried doing this first of all just using the instructions and examples given on the Google Maps API but after a fairly lengthy process of creating the document (I didn’t find the instructions that easy to get my head round) I ended up with the mystery of the disappearing markers…I found that when I displayed the map random markers would appear at different times. So, i would refresh the page and Exeter disappeared, refresh again and Aberdeen disappeared!
After struggling with this problem and posting to the web-support jiscmail list to get some help, which was unfortunately not forthcoming, I abandoned that approach and found another site that offered a better Google Maps API tutorial. This showed me how to create a simple XML document with each element containing the label, link and co-ordinates for the contributor.
I ended up with a lovely map, displaying all the information correctly…but I had been viewing it in Firefox browser, and when I tried in Internet Explorer I got half a map that was centered around the middle of France! So unless we quickly introduced some contributors from the continent, it was looking rather odd. I could only seem to solve this by abandoning part of the Hub navigation in order to lessen the number of tables that the map was contained within, and that did the trick for IE.
We can add further information and images to the map if we want to, and if we find we have the time to do this, but we are quite pleased with our first attempt.