Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Scribble Maps Pro and Versions

We thought we would write a blog post explaining some issues that our VIP users are having. As you may be aware we have upgrade the basic version of Scribble Maps to 2.0 which utilizes HTML5/Javascript. Additionally our new tech allows for the generation of large images up to 1500x1500 pixels (we are going to also be offering even large images and pdf formats in the future as well).

Currently Pro is still version 1.0 (Flash). Originally we wanted to wait for both free and pro to be upgraded for the release of 2.0 but we decided against it for two primary reasons.
  1. We were getting a large demand for Scribble Maps on mobile
  2. By offering the new version on free we could beta test before finally upgrading pro to 2.0
This has lead to some confusion since maps created in the free version which is 2.0 can't be opened in pro, and also the basic version has the ability to save larger images than Pro which is restricted to screen resolution.

As a VIP member it is possible to create a map in pro, load the map in basic 2.0, and then save a large image at 1500x1500 or get an image embed because 2.0 is reverse compatible with 1.0 maps.

Ultimately Pro is going to also be upgrade 2.0 and this confusion should go away. It should be noted that if you are a VIP member regardless of the version of Scribble Maps you are using (Basic/Pro) any widgets you create will not have banner ads on them.

Further, Basic 2.0 has some features that are only available to VIP members. These features include the ability to save a 1500x1500 image as well as create maps that are password protected. All the features will also be available in the future upgrade version of Pro.

We are sorry for any confusion this might have caused or will cause and if you have any questions please send us a note.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How to Add Custom Markers to a Map

In the our previous version we had the ability to add a custom marker to Scribble Maps. We have now brought this same functionality to 2.0 and improved it.

Step 1: Select the marker tool and then click "add your own" (click image to enlarge)


Step 2: Copy and paste the URL of the marker into the text field. You can host markers on free services such as http://www.imgur.com. You can also now select the anchor point and this is particularly useful for things like paddles where you want the tip of the paddle to be anchored to a point as you zoom in and out.


Step 3: Finally click the Add To Map button then click where you want to place the marker. You can also adjust the rotation of the marker by using the control in the bottom right. Rotation is particularly useful for things like vehicles.






Monday, December 30, 2013

Measurements in 2.0


We have had measurement for awhile in pro and we decided to bring some of this utility to the basic version of Scribble Maps and API.

While the dimensions won't be shown directly on the map like in pro, the dimensions can be seen while drawing the shapes and then after using the move/edit tool. We know that the line measurement tool is used a lot in the class room and we hope that this new feature will be just as useful.

You can also switch the measurement style from Metric to Imperial by using the gear icon in the bottom left of the editor.

If you have any suggestions or features that you think would make this or Scribble Maps in general even better please do not hesitate to use the feedback tab on the editor.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Our Biggest Release Yet, Mobile and API.

We are super excited (and a little relieved) to finally have our new version of Scribble Maps out. There is a lot to talk about. We have rolled out a new basic editor as well as a full API.

From Flash To HTML5/Javascript

While many of our users may not understand the change in technology, the implications of this are very large. Moving from flash to HTML5/Javascript was not something that was particularly easy and especially because we want to keep the experience as similar as possible to what made the original Scribble Maps so popular.

We wanted to make the experience of the new version consistent enough that people wouldn't even know we essentially rebuilt everything from the ground up. Things as simple as custom cursors were a challenge because we wanted to maintain cross browser comparability. So the new version works all the way back to IE7.

After Google announced that they would no longer support the flash version of their Maps API we decided on a couple of core things we wanted to since we needed to do a complete rebuild.


  1. We wanted the web application to work both in a desktop and mobile environment.
  2. We wanted to build our own rendering engine so that if we had to, we could switch to different API providers.
  3. We did not want to violate the Terms of Service of any mapping API provider
  4. We wanted the rebuild to be API-centric so that developers could utilize our map authoring tools in their application

Scribble Maps on Mobile

One of the biggest requests we got was the ability to use Scribble Maps in a mobile environment and particularly on tablets. Since we utilized javascript, the application would run on tablet devices.

However, having a mapping application run is different then it being usable. In the desktop version of Scribble Maps for instance you have roll overs, tablets do not have roll overs.
What this lead to was us modifying the user experience based on if you were on a touch device. This happens automatically without the need to modify any kind of code.

Scribble Maps API

There are about half a dozen really popular mapping APIs in existence so we wanted to focus on specifically editing and interactivity, leaving the other visualization and tile rendering to the other APIs.. When deciding how we wanted to structure the API we decided that one of the best styles for Javascript programming out there was JQuery.  So it is possible to create overlays and interactivity in one line.

ScribbleMap.draw.line([[lat, lng], [lat2, lng2]], { lineColor: "#0000FF" }).click(function() { alert("I have been clicked") });


Drawing in Scribble Maps works just like canvas so you can specify a style ahead of time and draw multiple lines which all adopt that style. This not only applies to shapes, it applies to things like Markers as well. So it is possible to do things like

The relationship a user has with the map is defined through tools and by changing the tools you change how the user interfaces with the map.


Dynamic Image API

One of the primary things Scribble Maps is used for is generating images. This posed not only a huge problem for us but also a new opportunity as we moved away from flash. With other map APIs there is the capability to create a "static image". The problem with these static image APIs is they almost all have restrictions on how much data can be on the rendered image.

With Scribble Maps, on the other hand, there is no restriction. Once a map is saved an image can be requested of that map regardless of how much data is on it. Additionally when a map is saved the image is invalidated and the next time it is requested gets rendered again. This effectively allows you to create image links that update as you change the map.
Below is an example of one such image.



New Widget

Also with 2.0 we have introduced a widget that has more UI controls. This is our first version and we will be improving it over the next several weeks.
 

Links

Scribble Maps API
Scribble Maps API group

Thursday, October 3, 2013

New Feature Preview (Markers)


This feature will be available in our new version of Scribble Maps and our coming API.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

API Themes

So as we get closer to the release of our API and also our new tablet version of Scribble Maps, I thought I would share one of the cool features that is going to be included.

Since the new API is completely styled using CSS, modifying the UI will be simple. However, if you don't have the time to create a complete new UI for our API, you can use one of the two initial themes we will be rolling out with the API. With a single parameter change you will be able to turn the API from a light to dark theme.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Where We Are Now

Back in December of last year we talked about all the things we had planned and we were a bit over zealous in our timelines. Moving a very large flash project over to Javascript is by no means an easy task.

What we have noted is that over the last two years our mobile traffic has went up to nearly 10% of our over all traffic. With this is mind as we are doing our rebuild, we are constantly checking things out to make sure they work properly on tablets. We actually have an initial API out in the wild that we are testing with some initial clients. The ultimate goal of our API is to allow any web developer to implement Scribble Maps drawing technology. We have also been really focused on creating an experience that is similar, if not better, in quality to our current flash application experience. Further we want our API to work with currently existing APIs such as Google, Bing, and Mapbox.

Thanks to our amazing VIP supporters, we now have some resources that is starting to give us more freedom to focus solely on Scribble Maps. The first thing we are hoping to do is replace our current mobile site, which is only just a map viewer, with the first implementation of or javascript editor. Once we have let that run for awhile and are confident in its stability, we will start showing that editor in place of the flash application for those with modern browsers.

Since we are doing a complete rebuild we are also focusing on starting to prepare and implement things people have been asking for. One of those things is true collaborative mapping. Right now if you share the editor password multiple people can make changes to the same map. The problem is if people work on the map at the same time, they might write override the changes by others. Building in collaborative mapping will also set the stage to allow us to do something we have always wanted to do which is real-time map editing by multiple parties.

We're sorry for the delays, we get a lot of emails by developers asking when our technology will be available and so it does bother us that it is taking so long, but we don't want to roll out something that is too unstable to be usable.