Friday, September 5, 2014

Current State of Pro

There has been some confusion regarding pro and we hope this will clear up some confusion. However, before I start I want to say that if you are a paying member you get additional features in the basic editor of Scribble Maps. Some of these features are not available in pro yet including larger images, pdf saving, and secure map saving. This is because the basic editor is actually the most recent version of our tech.

On September 2nd Google disconnected their flash maps API. We knew this was coming but we didn't get the memo in mid august and we were under the impression that we actually had to the 15th, we were wrong. This lead to pro going down and us scrambling to come up with a solution. In order to get pro to a functional state for the interim we opted to go with MapQuest because they had a flash API.

I use the term interim because we have been working on the new version of Pro which essentially utilizes all the same tech of our new basic editor but with all the extra features currently in pro like the layer editor etc.. Unfortunately our flash app was very large and transitioning it all over has taken much more time then we expected.

No one is more frustrated by this situation than us. We thank you ahead of time for bearing with us and if you are currently a VIP or Pro member we highly recommend checking out the new basic editor because this is going to be the future of pro as well. It has a ton of new features like unit selection, marker clustering disabling and the ability to create large images and pdfs. We are hoping to have the new version rolled out before the end of the month.

If anyone has any questions about any of this, emails can be sent to team@scribblemaps.com. Again we apologize for any inconvenience and we are working our best to get everything better than it was before.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Taking on Google

When we first launched Scribble Maps our original logo was actually created based on the Google logo. For those of you who actually have been using Scribble Maps for that long you might remember it. However, as Scribble Maps and our derivative products get more popular we often have people ask us, "are you not worried about Google?"

This is an interesting question because Google provides much of the technology we use. In fact, before our recent API we were totally at the will of Google. Just recently we have launched a new product called MapYourList.com and this also competes with Google and yet simultaneously uses a Google enterprise license. So why do we not fear Google even though it seems like sometimes they are trying to compete directly with us or an even better question is why would we even bother trying to take them on?

There are actually several reasons we do not fear Google and for developers who happen to be reading this, I hope this gives you some hope about building products that "compete" against Google.

#1 Google can't actually compete with you
Products always have many features and Google has a particularly interesting problem that they have to build things that work for as many as people as possible. They can't build a thousand different niche companies because it would just be too expensive. We don't care about the features Google may have that compete with us, we care about the features they don't.

#2 Google has a lot of disenfranchised customers
Google has a history of shutting down products, everyone knows it. Google will shut down any product that is costing more to run than it is making unless they have other tactical reasons not to. This is probably the only negative thing I can think about when it comes to Google. When they decided to stop supporting the Google Flash Maps API that put us into a situation where we literally had to rebuild everything. This could of been far more damaging to us except for the fact that we knew we had to move to HTML5 to support mobile devices.

#3 For Google it is much harder to roll out new/test features
We have sometimes implemented new features within two days of user requests. We don't have to go through any major process to turn features around. Google on the other hand has so many users and is such a large company and get so many requests that they simply can't do this.

The Future
At the end of the day people have different preferences. Some people like Pepsi and some people like Coke. It's the same deal with applications. The really important thing is to focus on value for your customers and pay attention to their requests but stay true to your vision and focus of your product.

One of the reasons we launched MapYourList.com was because our users wanted the ability to easily map list data but we didn't want to over complicate the Scribble Maps interface everyone loves. So we made the decision to create it as a secondary product fully knowing we were going into competition with not only Google but some others as well. However, we didn't build it to try and steal their customers, we built it for our own.

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.