Let’s say you have a set of location-based data and you have some users that rather go through the data visually as opposed to just going through endless lists in spreadsheets. You have considered importing the data into open source applications like QGis or OpenStreetMap, but you just want to whip something together quickly as a prototype without having to install a single piece of software and without having to program a single line of code.
A very quick solution to this would be to load the data into My Maps by Google maps. It may not be perfect and if you have a lot of data then it can be to much work. However, it is a great tool for creating a quick demo of the use case of mapping your data.
What are the Possibilities of My Maps?
My Maps is part of Google maps and it allows you to add your own data to a map in several formats, like:
- CSV (Comma Separated Values)
- XSLX (Spreadsheet)
- KML (Keyhole Markup Language)
- GPX (GPS Exchange Format)
You can also add files from your Google drive and even add your images from Google Photos to a map. The photos will then be shown on the map in the locations they were taken. Nice if you want to show off your trip through Asia.
But for the serious stuff, you can also use My Maps. For example, you can upload all the addresses of your customers and plot them on a map or you can plot all your store locations, or all the locations of your suppliers. A pin will be shown for every item on the map and the pins can be colored according to values in the fields. If the pin is clicked then a balloon will be shown with the data of the location.
One possible practical application of this could be a store location finder that you can embed on your website. This can be a great addition to just a list of store addresses showing on your website.
How Do I Get My Data in a Map?
The easiest way to get your data on a map is by simply uploading a CSV or XSLX file with addresses and additional data. Once uploaded you can select which columns should be used for location detection. So if you have a column street name, number, and city, Google will figure out most of the times where to place a pin on the map.
So great, My Maps will automatically map the addresses to locations on a map. This is quick and easy, but it does not always lead to accurate results. Better more accurate results can be obtained if you have the geo-coordinates of each entry.
Different Ways to Connect Locations to Your Data
As explained, you can just use addresses and Google will try to place your info on a best-suited location. But there are two more formats that you can use and that will give more accurate results and those are:
- KML (Keyhole Markup Language)
- GPX (GPS Exchange format)
Both the KML and GPX files will hold longitude and latitude coordinates that will map exactly on the Google Map.
Using My Maps in the Google Maps Mobile App
Once you have a My Map set up, you can share it with others and you can also open it within the Google maps app on your phone. This is a great way to share location information with for instance sales people that are out on the road.
Is There a Limit to the Amount of Data You Can Add?
My Maps is free to use but comes with limitations. One of them is that there is a limit to the number of entries/items a map can hold. Currently, it is set to a maximum of two thousand items per upload or layer that is placed on top of the map. So if you need to hold and present more data, you are out of luck.
Is There a Pro Version of My Maps
There used to be a Pro version of My Maps, but this has been discontinued by Google. They did move over all of the Pro features to the free version, but if you are in need of professional support or are waiting for additional features, then I suggest you look elsewhere.
Here are Some Good Alternatives to My Maps
Luckily there are many companies that offer Good alternatives to Google Maps My Maps. some of these companies use Google Maps is their backend and what they have basically done is build a layer around it to add more features and make it more manageable especially if you have a lot of data.