Old Dog, Old Tricks

Occasionally, I fail to take my own advice.

I bang on about how people should learn new skills, and not rely on Facebook, Google, etc. for their IT needs. Then I come across a situation that brings me up short.

When I transferred everything across to my new web space, using the new domain name, my Google maps stopped working. Despite several attempts this week, and messages flying back and forth with my provider, I couldn’t get the old script to work.

So I went back to Google, and found a different way of doing things. I did have to get a Google Maps API key, but it turns out I have a Google Account after all, using an email address I never use on a domain that will be expiring soon. I also took the opportunity to see what data Google had on me. Not much, I’m pleased to say.

And no, I can’t use My Maps in Google. There’s too much data in my GB Rail Stations & Patronage Data map (plus, it means trusting Google with my data).

Except… I now needed a way to find and present the maps. The temptation here would be to fall back on WordPress for any heavy lifting, but that wouldn’t work, for several reasons. For one thing, I don’t want my maps to look like the rest of my site (I want them to look like full-screen maps); for another, using WordPress would be like using a hefty sledgehammer to crack an ant, never mind a nut.

So I went back 20-odd years, to the days when I used to write web pages by hand (well, by Notepad), and created an index page to all my maps. ‘All’ currently being ‘two’. I’d found a ‘cool’ set of styles a while back and had grabbed the stylesheet; it was easy enough to adapt to my needs, and adapt the index page to use the correct styles.

Which means I can now present Maps 2.0 – go to that site, find the map you want, and you’re away.

In fact, I like the way it’s turned out so much I’m going to use it on my laptop’s launch page (a list of the owned sites I have; easier than using bookmarks, oddly enough).

Next steps; to try and replicate the functionality of the old form, my allowing any .kml or .kmz file to be displayed without needing an accompanying .html file. And then possible add in some of the other maps I’d built, such as the local MPs one. And then go back through this site and correct all the links in there at the moment.

That should keep me busy this spring.

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