Ming the Mechanic:
More Google wizardry

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 More Google wizardry2005-02-10 16:00
6 comments
picture by Flemming Funch

Google has a new Map service. Which maybe at first looks like any other online map thing. You can see the streets in some area, map a route somewhere, search for addresses and that kind of thing. But Google has a knack for making services that are really simple, and look really simple, but that use a lot of hidden wizardry. They effortlessly do things that most professional web developers would swear would be impossible to do in a webpage. But, ok, we're catching on now. So whenever they come out with something new, somebody will dissect it and tell us how they did it.

There's Google Suggest that magically can provide you lists of possible search terms as you're typing, complete with number of matches for each. Chris Justus did a thorough job dissecting that. They use the XMLHttp for exchanging data with the server in real time.

And there's Gmail. Again, seems very simple. But it does spell checking and addressbook lookups in real time. Stuff I had gotten used to accepting that one just couldn't do in webpages. But you can, with XMLHttp and with iFrames. And with some extremely responsive servers. Various people have analyzed Gmail, like John Vey. Part of their trick is that the user interface gets stored at the client's end, so that only data is passed back and forth to the server. As opposed to "normal" webpages where everything is sent from the server whenever you load a new page.

Now Joel Webber has dissected Google Maps. So, some of the same tricks again with real-time server communication, in part using a hidden iframe. And then there's the infinitely scrolling maps. The trick is in part to make them out of little tiles, and removing some at one end while adding new ones at the other end, in real time. And routes are added on top with transparent PNG files.

Now, if somebody could just pay me for duplicating some of those tricks so I can get time to study up on them. Or my skills are suddenly getting a little old.


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6 comments

10 Feb 2005 @ 20:34 by Ge Zi @24.127.146.67 : finally
so this stuff actually exists for a while: [link]
and I didn't even know.
So far I have seen this stuff mostly only working with the M$ servers but I could not imagine that apache would not - gotta read up on that - damn - this is so fascinating stuff and all this where I should be sitting here translating this book - for money that is ;-)
But ming, there is the push to do something with the second opinion, because we can learn all the xmlhttp stuff building that.  



10 Feb 2005 @ 21:26 by ming : xmlhttp
I didn't know about it either, before I read the guy explaining how Google Suggest works. I had been wanting to do that kind of thing for a long time, and thought I had to use Flash for it, but didn't get around to studying it.

Yes, there's excellent opportunities for doing cool things that use facilities like that. Few people are doing that, so the time is ripe.  



12 Feb 2005 @ 14:38 by kim @68.74.138.10 : next step
so, can you put this scrolling map thing together with the photo map stuff and have it pick up live webcams along the way, as you come to them?  


12 Feb 2005 @ 16:16 by ming : Maps
People have already played a bit with making it show different things, apparently. Like, it would be cool with satellite maps, rather than regular maps. And since the interface to it is pretty open, yeah, no reason one shouldn't be able to combine it with some other location based stuff, and superimpose some other things on it. Great fun.  


13 Feb 2005 @ 23:43 by Cybarber @84.30.158.48 : xmlHTTP usage
If you want some cleaver usage of some of the techniques, check out my "All-in-One-Page" RSS reader and podcast downloader pages.

[link]
This page is close to an RSS reader and auto playsback all enclosure audio.

from above page you can go to a similar .hta page which will save the enclosure link audio files to your drive. (to allow saving you need to be in low security mode, so save the hta to you pc - or and this is not advisable you need to make my site a trusted site)  



15 Feb 2005 @ 15:58 by ming : xmlHTTP
Sounds great. Oops, it seems to be a Windows IE only thing?  


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