Yahoo Maps does it right

Google isn’t the boss of me!

A colleague of mine just pointed me in the direction of a talented flash coder’s blog post detailing his use of Yahoo’s Map API. His examples are brilliant. Moreover, they’re a testament to how Yahoo has done it all right.

First, Yahoo has decided to use flash as their UI engine. Thank God! I think this is a perfect example to backup what I said in my earlier post about Ajax. Ajax is not well suited for large-scale applications. Adding discreet bits of Ajax code to a web page can enhance functionality, usability and end-user experience greatly. But, make the page too reliant on Ajax and it becomes cumbersome, slow, and bug-prone. Think of Ajax as a condiment, not an entree.
You can appreciate Yahoo’s adoption of flash in this product when you see how fast, smooth and visually pleasing the result it. That’s what flash lives for.

Second, check out how extensive the API is! Okay.. let me gather my thoughts around the coolness.

There is the simple API which is what you would use if you wanted to embed maps in your website. Quite easy to follow.

Then there is the actual Flash API which essentially has three components. The Actionscript API, the Javascript API and the Flex API. I’m actually not sure how the Javascript API is a subset of the flash API because as you’ll see on the page, it doesn’t require any Flash programming. *Shrug*

Finally, and here is the real kick in the pants. There is an Ajax API, which basically means you can use DHTML to do on-the-fly changes to the map as it appears on the page. Wow! totally cool. Can you see the convergence now? I think this is such a great example of next-gen application development.

(can anyone say circulation interface?)

Okay, but there is the caveat concerning the ubiquity of Flash. I’ll acknowledge that not everyone has it installed, but my answer to that is that it’s easy to install, its a fast download, its stable and its not a fad technology. Flash has been around for a long time. I remember someone telling me that Flash is just shy of “killer app” status. I think it’s a contender, especially now that Adobe is behind Macromedia. It’s a technology that is positioned to fill a crucial technological gap in a whole slew of forthcoming next-gen applications.

So, back to the Justin Rich. He’s got two great examples of what can be done with this type of technology. Check out his pirate map and radar. There’s no way you can’t call that cool-as-hell.


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