Sunday, February 13, 2005

Google Maps

[From BoingBoing via Scientific Indian]

Google introduces their new feature : Google Maps. Google Maps is another brilliantly engineered site from Google. There are a couple of really cool new features : infinitely scrollable maps, which help you visualize the map or the route much better than Mapquest and other existing mapping sites, and turn-by-turn driving directions with pop-ups that show a zoomed-in map of the turn points.
Google Maps is blazingly fast. It uses absolute URLs for the map, so there is potential for client-side and edge-of-network caching. GoogleMaps also makes innovative use of XML technologies, an area close to my heart. HTTP get's from the browser return XML embedded in the HTML, and Google Maps uses the browser's built-in XSLT processor to apply a stylesheet on the XML returned. Joel Webber talks about what else is going on under the covers at Google Maps in this post. I think Google is where the game is now.
I also think it bears noting that Google is pulling out all the stops to build rich web apps, no matter how weirdly they have to hack the browser to make them go. And I strongly believe that this is a trend that is here to stay -- XHTML Strict/CSS/etc be damned. At the end of the day, what really matters to users is compelling apps that let them get their work done quickly.
[Cross-posted to Zoo Station]