CLEAR Research

Maps on the Web

The Ultimate Mashup Glossary


API (Application Programming Interface) - An API is a bundle of coding functions and tools used to develop or link to anther software program, allowing for one program to "communicate" with another. APIs are critical for customized mashups, allowing one set of data to "communicate" with an online mapping program.

Balloon - This is also known as an "info window". When you click on a marker on a map, a balloon opens, usually with a "stem" generating from that marker's specific point. The balloon contains information about that corresponding marker in HTML code. This information can come from a database table or KML file.

Code Snippets - A portion of computer code. More specifically, it is a chunk of code that sometimes contains commands for elements on a webpage.

Dreamweaver - An Adobe software program (formerly Macromedia) used to designing and maintaining webpages in a WYSIWYG manner (what you see is what you get).

Embed - The process of inserting and storing external data onto a webpage, rather than linking to the data and having to maintain a connection with the source file.

Google Earth - An online mapping application that is free in most cases that displays spatial information in 3D, mapped across a globe.

Google Maps - A free online mapping application served by Google with powerful search tools.

Google Maps My Maps - A free tool for adding personal information and data to Google Maps, accessing Googles search and direction tools in addition to displaying relevant data. Use (creation, not necessarily viewing) of this interface requires a Google Account, though.

Google Spreadsheet - A free spreadsheet "wizard" that will store data for markers and balloons for a Google Maps mashup. The spreadsheet is linked with a balloon template and imported to a Google Maps My Maps project.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) - A computer programming language used online that blocks text with codes of format and function and allows them to be hyper linked to images or other online files. It is read and processed by web browser software.

Hyperlink - A cross-reference, link, to another document or section of a document, or even an email address.

Import - To bring in or transfer an external file or data, often used to add data from a table or database to a mashup.

Internet Browser - An internet software program (client program) that is able to access and display data being served online, if it's compatible with the data's coding language.

Javascript - A computer programming language used in conjunction with HTML for make web pages more interactive.

KML (Keyhole Markup Language) - A computer programming language based on XML that allows for data to be displayed geospatially and in 3D. Data is added to Google Earth and Google Maps easily with KMLs.

KMZ (zipped KML) - A compressed, or zipped, KML file. Often they are KMLs files that also contain photos, or other large data formats.

MapBuilder - A wizard-like interface that allows for data to easily and quickly be added to Google Maps and Yahoo! Maps so that an API an intensive coding is unnecessary.

MapCruncher - Microsoft's interface with Virtual Earth that allows for data to be added to Virtual Earth maps quickly and more easily than with an API.

Mapplets - Mini Google Maps applications that interacts with, generates and displays data on Google Maps. These are mashups and many are available to be added to a map for free from Google.

Mashups - The process of combining two or more readily available programs or datasets to create new material. For example, points of interest can be added to Google Maps through a database connection, creating a new map that is a mashup.

"On the fly" - Used to describe dynamic data processing. This is often useful when allowing for user input searches (ie. a map search for "green roofs" will generate results "on the fly" rather than return results that are statically predefined).

Overlay - When something is added as a layer on top of something else. Usually the new layer is added as semi-transparent or completely transparent.This allows for many layers of data to be interpreted spatial in conjunction with each other.

PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) - A computer programming language used in conjunction with HTML to create web pages. It is interpreted by web server software.

Placemark - Otherwise referred to as a "marker", this is a point of interest denoted on a map with an icon. Sometimes clicking on the placemark will open a balloon of information about that particular placemark. KML files and databases with coordinate information are used to create placemarks, or markers, on maps during a mashup.

Plain text - Unencrypted text that is readable by humans and computers alike because it does not include an formatting or structure information (just words, not font sizes, font type or fancy text settings).

RSS (Rich Site Summary) - An XML summary based on protocol used to share content of a website. Often, RSS feeds are used for mashups. Also stands for RDF Site Summary and Real Simple Syndication.

Rich text - Text that is not readily readable by humans, but encoded for computers to read with formatting instructions included with the plain text.

Root folder - The root folder is the highest folder in a hierarchy of folders; it contains all the other folders and files.

Server - hardware and associated software that allows for data, programs and webpages to be "served" and accessible from a network (ie. online via client software).

Virtual Earth - Microsoft's online mapping program that includes oblique imagery and bird's-eye view orientation of the spatial data.

Widgets - Objects or icons that can perform certain functions online with user interaction.

XML (Extensible Markup Language) - XML is a data format that separates the content from the layout.

Yahoo! Maps - Yahoo!'s free, online mapping service with driving directions and multiple base map views, similar to Google Maps.

Yahoo! MapMixer - Yahoo!'s interface that adds static maps and data as overlays to Yahoo! Maps quickly and easily.