Nov 5 2010
It’s funny how people say they’re going to Mapquest directions when they really mean they’re going to use Google Maps. Clearly, Mapquest won the branding war and has since been slowly giving up market share to the larger fish in the internet pond. Perhaps it’s that people trust Google more. Maybe it’s their famous and infamous street view feature. Or maybe it’s the fact that they are the king of search and can discretely usher users to their services and away from their competitors.
Not to be outdone, Yahoo didn’t give up the race and has a respectable map and direction service of their own. Regardless of which service you choose there’s one aspect of looking up maps and directions that doesn’t go away- having to type in the addresses of all the places you’re going. Map.to is a new tool that allows you to create custom URLs that will help you remember where the ‘map is going to.’
Map.to’s basic usage is to enter an address, create a custom alias, and let it create a Map.to URL for that location. This will be a page on Map.to with a map imported from Google Maps. In my testing I looked up everybody’s favorite place in San Francisco- 24 Willie Mays Plaza. Also known as AT+T park, home of the 2010 World Series champions. The custom alias I chose was ‘Giants.’ Now and henceforth the URL Map.to/Giants, directs to one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world.
Beyond created embedded maps, Map.to also functions as a custom URL shortener. It can take your Google or Yahoo map URL and convert it to a Map.to URL. So in this case I used the Google Maps URL and shortened it with the custom alias of ‘GiantsStadium.’ Thus the URL Map.to/GiantsStadium was born, which redirects to the page on Google Maps. This has the added advantage of being able to link with maps with directions or street view. I created a special example for those who haven’t had the chance to see the famed ballpark- Map.to/GiantsStreet. Note that URLs are not case sensitive so you can type them however you prefer.
Map.to tackles two worlds at once. First it allows you to create Map.to URLs that host maps within its pages. Next you can create short URLs from external websites. Speaking of, back to the heated competition of Map services available online, Map.to certainly cast their vote. They only accept external URLs from Yahoo and Google. As far as Map.to is concerned Mapquest has been relegated to the internet waste bin. It’s always kind of sad watching old legends of the internet fall. As of this writing Google and Mapquest are neck and neck with 40 million unique visitors a month. Yahoo has a paltry 10 million and holding steady. But everything Yahoo does is paltry lately.
One of the best things about Map.to is being able to create custom, memorable aliases. I know there are many bookmarking services and ways to save your favorite locations. Still, not everyone uses these and sometimes it’s nice to have a catchy URL. Map.to/BigPartyThisFriday, or Map.to/DinnerAndDancing. The list can go on and on. These URLs can be shared and will stick in people’s minds when they’re looking for directions.
Map.to is a simple site. It creates short URLs for both internal and external map pages. In both cases it directs you to where you’d like to go by giving you a URL you can remember. It makes a nice tool for finding directions, and another utility in your arsenal of useful web applications.