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Speculating on future trends for online maps

The online mapping arena is changing so quickly, and I obviously am not able to cover the details of all these changes. Nonetheless, it's helpful to speculate on what I believe to be the long-term trends in this area as a way of priming yourself for future changes.

  • I think that you'll see a migration of many features found in typical full-fledged GIS system — e.g., shading of layers — into programmable web applications. (e.g., Pushpin Multi-layer map server)
  • Not surprisingly, we'll see the platform players (such as Google Maps) incorporate functionality started off as extensions to the platform into the platform itself. For example, sites such as provided a user interface for building Google (or Yahoo!) map before Google made it easier to build a Google Map via its "My Maps" functionality. Google's My Maps doesn't exactly duplicate but it's bound to win a major audience by virtue of its tight integration with Google Maps.
  • Google Mapplets are little applications that embedded in the Google Maps directly. (Note the contrast to the main Google Maps API allows Google Maps to be embedded in third-party websites) Again, because mapplets are located right in the context of, users can take advantage of increased functionality without having to go to a third-party website. Google Mapplets are to Google Maps as Google Gadgets are to iGoogle, Google Desktop, Google Page Creator. They are extension mechanisms for different part of the Google Platform.
  • We will see increased merging in 2D and 3D representations of the globe. Signs of such activity include

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