Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Web Wednesday: CommunityWalk

CommunityWalk is an up and coming web app that allows users to create, save, and share maps. The original purpose of the site was to allow a realtor to mark and display the homes that she had for sale, but since then the site and application have grown into much more. Now each and every public user can create an array of personal maps to save, share, or publish.

CommunityWalk is a self proclaimed “Mapping Made Easy” application.  From the home page users can link to everything that the site has to offer: basic map creation; the site’s blog; all CommunityWalk public maps; all CommunityWalk public professional maps; most popular wedding areas and much more.

To get started, you can either register for an account with CommunityWalk [visit CommunityWalk registration], allowing you to create maps for private use, or you can jump right in and create a public map. To create your own map head over to Start Your Map and input any location across the globe that you would like to map. Next, you can decide if you would like to publicly publish your map (making it available across the site and in various other search engine), sharable (meaning that only those who you provide with a site link can view your map), or completely private (only available if you are registered with the site). Then just title your map and get to work.

A bare map will be displayed on your screen and from here you can do various things from adding markers at special locations (searchable by name, address, or latitude and longitude) to displaying paths or line segments between points or even uploading pictures associated with your points of interest. Once you create your map masterpiece, click on the “share/export” link and use one of the options to display your map to the world. Below you can see all of the various options available under each of the three map editing tabs (Build This Map, Map Settings, and Share/Export).

Another nice feature of this site is that it has a few detailed tutorials to walk users through the steps of some of the more advanced options that are available, including adding audio to your map, linking directly to markers on your map or even creating your own icon image markers.

Below you can see a map we created displaying Rice University’s campus and a path line showing how to get from Fondren Library to the Houston Zoo, Houston Museum of Natural Science and Rice Village. Check out the features of the Rice University map including images for each of the markers and quick links to directions to or from any of the locations.