Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Adding Hyperlinks to Your Map Points

What are we talking about here?
The ability to visualize a list of addresses on a map is definitely useful - and it's what we're all about here at MapAList.  Leveraging hyperlinks within maps makes them even more interactive for you and your users.  

In this first post about hyperlinks, the goal is to show you how to associate a link to a website with a pin on your map.  This will allow whomever is viewing your map to click on a pin and see hyperlinks in the bubble that pops up. Furthermore, it will enable the viewer to click on the hyperlinks to navigate to a URL directly from the map. 

Sound cool?  It is.  Sound hard?  Don't worry, we'll walk you through it...

What does it look like from a spreadsheet perspective?
There are 2 approaches to making this work, one certainly more efficient if you are dealing with multiple address records.

In the sample spreadsheet below, you can see a column called Site which is used to associate the address with a website (URL).  You can see that in the Site column the MapAList URL has been inserted (http://www.mapalist.com).  The next column is called Site Link (you'll have to scroll to the right on the IFrame below to see it).  Here's where those 2 different approaches come in...

1. You can simply enter the HTML in the cell.  In other words,  you can type in the following:

<a target='_new' href='http://mapalist.com'>MapAList HQ</a>

2. In order to avoid typing the HTML out for every record, you can use the CONCATENATE function and reference the cell in the Site column that contains the URL.  Instead of entering the HTML in cell D2 (column 4 row 2), you would enter the following:

=CONCATENATE("<a target='_new' href="', C2,'">", A2,"</a>")





So what the heck do those HTML tags mean?
This isn't a HTML tutorial, but we can still break it down for you briefly...

<a target='_new' href='http://mapalist.com'>MapAList HQ</a>

target='_new' - the target attribute tells your browser to open the link in a new window

href='http://mapalist.com' - the link URL tells your browser what URL to open in that new window

MapAList HQ - the link text defines what will be displayed (and clickable)

Okay, you've got the link in the spreadsheet - now what?

This is the easy part.  All you have to do is referance the column in the spreadsheet that contains your link in Step 2b where you assign your fields to your map.  Simply select column that contains the links as either the Title or Additional Info values so that they will show up in the bubble when you click on the map pin.  That's all you have to do.

Click on the image above to take a closer look

What does it look like from a map perspective?

So give it a try - click on the green pin on the map below and you'll see MapAList HQ in the pop up bubble.  Click on MapAList HQ in the pop up bubble and a new browser window will open up to http://www.mapalist.com.





What are other users doing with this feature?
The use of hyperlinks within maps is quickly becoming a very popular feature.  The most common uses to date are: 

•Mapping companies and linking to their homepages

and

•Mapping friends and linking to their Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, or Blog pages

So get creative and give it a try!

Hope this was helpful...more to come.

--The Map Commissioner (E-mail)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Advanced Grouping to Show Differentiation

What are we talking about here?
So basic grouping was, well, a bit basic wasn’t it? When I ran through it with my wife for the first time she was rather impatient and starting asking me why she couldn’t change the pin colors/styles. I explained that she could and that I would walk her through it in the advanced grouping tutorial.

Advanced grouping enables a lot more than simply grouping based on distinct values in a column. With advanced grouping, MapAList supports the use of operators and comparison values to create grouping rules. It then allows you to choose the pin image associated with each group. Let me show you what I mean…

What does it look like from a spreadsheet perspective?

In the sample spreadsheet below (which should look familiar), you can see a column called Response  which is used to differentiate each address as coming to the wedding (Yes), not coming (No), or no response (Empty).  So let’s see what we get when we map this sheet…



What does it look like from a map perspective?

What you can see is that MapAList plotted red pins for addresses that had responded No, Green Pins for addresses that responded Yes, and yellow pins for addresses that did not have a response (empty).  Coincidence on the colors?  I think not.  MapAList’s advanced grouping feature allows the user to choose the pin color/type associated with each group.  I’ll explain how in just a minute.



Okay – so walk me through it step by step…

The process is very much like making a basic map that shows all addresses – the key difference is in Step 4 – Configure Map below:

Step 4 – Configure Map

  • Specify the Setting Type as Advanced – this will give you the opportunity to specify your grouping criteria.
Click on the image to take a closer look
  • Now you can specify your criteria using the simple user interface.  Here’s what I did:
    1. Specified that I want to evaluate the Response column in my worksheet.
    2. Specified that I want MapAList to look for addresses in my worksheet where the value in the Response column is = “equal to” the Comparison Value of No.
    3. Specified in the Criteria Description field that my map key should call these addresses out as Not Attending.
    4. Clicked on the … box and selected the red pin image to use for addresses that are Not Attending.
    5. Clicked on the Plus button to add conditions for my other 2 situations – addresses that are attending and addresses that have no response yet (empty).
Click on the image to take a closer look
  • Click on the Preview Map button to display your map.  The pin images you selected for each condition will display.
  • Click on the Next button.

Step 5 – Save Map

  • Modify Additional Settings as you see fit.
  • Click on the Save & View Map button.
  • Click on the Close This, and Create New Map button.

Give it a try and let us know what you think...

--The Map Commissioner (E-mail)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Basic Grouping to Show Differentiation

What are we talking about here?
Creating basic maps that simply map all addresses are useful, but grouping allows you to kick things up a notch.

Let’s say you are mapping your wedding attendee list for your wedding website and want to allow the map viewer to easily differentiate between the bride’s family and the groom’s family. MapAList has a Map Type built to handle just that – it’s called Group by Distinct Column Values (using unique pin images) and can be selected in Step 4 – Configure Map of the map creation process.

This Map Type allows you to tell MapAList which column in your worksheet contains the grouping attribute. MapAList then examines the values in that column and assigns a unique pin image to each distinct value. Running with the wedding example, what this means is that you would need a column in your worksheet that associates each address with the bride or groom…let’s take a look at an example.

What does it look like from a spreadsheet perspective?
In the sample spreadsheet below, you can see a column called Group which is used to distinguish each address as a member of the bride’s family, a member of the groom’s family, or a friend. Note that you may need to click on the image below and drag to the right to see this column (due to the way Blogger sizes iframes). I could have called the column anything I wanted – for example Family or Side, MapAList doesn’t care. I could also have additional values in the Group column – for example Groomsmen and Bridesmaids. The point I’m trying to get across is that the number of groups is not limited to 3. You could have 50…all MapAList needs to know is the name of the column that contains the grouping attributes. So let’s see what we get when we map this sheet…


http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=pqacvdx2XdPdkS4tSqvidBA

What does it look like from a map perspective?

What you can see is that MapAList selected red pins to represent the addresses associated with the bride’s family white pins to represent the groom’s family, and green pins to represent friends. If my worksheet had contained addresses with a Group called Groomsmen, we would have seen a 4th pin type on the left side of the map that represented the Groomsmen addresses and the associated pins on the map.



Okay – so walk me through it step by step…
The process is very much like making a basic map that shows all addresses – the key difference is in Step 4 – Configure Map below:

Step 4 – Configure Map
•Choose Group by Distinct Column Values (using unique pin images).

Click on the image to take a closer look

•Choose the Column that contains the attribute that you would like to group by.
Click on the image to take a closer look

•Click on the Preview Map button to display your map. A unique pin image will represent each distinct column value in the column you selected.
•Click on the Next button.

Step 5 – Save Map
•Modify Additional Setting as you see fit.
•Click on the Save & View Map button.
•Click on the Close This, and Create New Map button.


What are other users doing with this feature?
So now that you know how to use Basic Grouping to Show Differentiation, give some thought to how you might use it. Other users have used grouping to differentiate between:

•Bride’s and groom’s friends/family (you saw that one coming)
•Sales targets that are hot/medium/cold
•Clients using specific versions of a their software
•Types of crimes committed in a specific area
•Regular and premium users of a website
•Destinations visited in 2008, 2007, 2006, etc.
•Comment and us how you're using Basic Grouping

Hope this was helpful...more to come.

--The Map Commissioner (E-mail)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Taking your Maps to the Next Level

As our user count has steadily grown, the MapAList support team has received an increasing number of calls and e-mails from users looking to do more with our solution. Over 80% of the feature requests we’ve received are, well, features that already exist within the base MapAList solution.

What does that tell us?

What it tells me is that we need to do a better job articulating the feature set MapAList has to offer out of the box...and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

For the next several weeks we will be publishing installments of Taking Your Maps to the Next Level – a series of short tutorials meant to enable you, the user, to get more out of MapAList. Each installment will focus on a single feature, show examples of both spreadsheets and maps, and provide step by step instructions to make it work.

Here’s the current plan…

01/02/09 –Basic Grouping to Show Differentiation
01/09/09 – Advanced Grouping to Show Differentiation
01/16/09 – Adding Hyperlinks to Your Map Points
01/23/09 – Adding E-mail & Phone Calls (via Skype) to Your Map Points
01/30/09 – Adding Images & Iframes to your Map Points



If you have other ideas for topics please give us a shout.

--The Map Commissioner (E-mail)