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Avoiding Minefields in Mapping Application Development

December 15, 2011
GIS, Online Mapping
By: Vivian Nguyen
While the benefits of maps are widely known, developing robust, user-friendly mapping applications is still a challenge.
Based on over a decade of experience building spatial solutions, our team at Digital Map Products has identified five of the most common minefields that stymie geo-development projects and cause mapping application “mission impossible”.
Use the right location data

By employing the strategies listed below, developers can avoid minefields and bring an intuitive application to market in less time and with far greater ease.

Have a Plan to go Beyond Points on a Map

Today’s users expect more than just points on a map so your plan should include integrating and linking multiple data sets, building interactive features, and incorporating advanced data visualization tools.  Plus mapping applications can be notoriously difficult to extend, so invest in a flexible back-end and think carefully about desired future capability.

Be Realistic About Time Estimates – Getting the Data’s the Easy Part

Many developers think once they’ve sourced data for their new mapping application the hard work is done. In reality, the work has just begun. Allocate significant time to processing, linking, displaying, and updating your data.

Form an Obsession with Mapping Performance

In the online world, your application can never be fast enough, so it’s paramount that you exploit every trick in the book to optimize your data and features for rapid display on the map. Users waiting for a map to load is as antiquated a thought as dial-up connections.

Hide the Spatial Technology and your Users will Thank You

Because most of your users won’t know GIS from XYZ you need to ‘hide’ the spatial technology so it is intuitive for users and available when they need it, but not overwhelming. Styling your data and linking related data sets can go a long way towards enhancing usability.

You Don’t Need to do it all Yourself

With the explosion of mapping and geodata web services, you don’t have to recreate the wheel when developing your spatial application.  Leveraging the cloud translates to substantial time and cost savings on development, infrastructure, and maintenance, as well as minimal capital outlays and best-in-class reliability. Plus, it means you don’t need to become a GIS expert to leverage location technologies.

We have always believed that spatial technology should be easy to use and implement.  Armed with an awareness of common mapping application development minefields and the strategies needed to avoid them, you can be successful in leveraging all the exciting new mapping technologies.

Contact us today for more information about developing a successful mapping application.

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