Trip Planner in ZeeMaps for multi-point routes

Trip Planner Overview

ZeeMaps can used as a trip planner to plan your routes visiting multiple points marked on your map. Routes, an ordered list of destinations, can be created on any map, even maps not your own. Some highlights of trip planning with ZeeMaps routes are:

  • The ZeeMaps trip planner can optionally optimize your route for distance or time.
  • Routes are associated with your account for each map, so you’ll need to sign-in to create a route.
  • The trip planner allows you to print your routes, with a map showing the overall route and each stop labelled and listed on the print page.
  • Routes are available when you access the map from your Smart Phone, so you can easily get directions to your next stop from where you are.

Using the ZeeMaps Trip Planner

To create a new route on a map, use the menu item Additions -> Route. This will show you a dialog containing the route. For example, here’s a route on our Used Computer Stores map for a few stores in San Jose and Santa Clara, California.

Trip Planner: Create a route
Trip Planner: Create a route

Start clicking on pins on the map to add to the route. In the route dialog, you can select the route to be either automatically optimized for Distance or for Time. If not, you can leave it to be manual. If the route is in manual mode, you can drag-and-drop the destinations in the route to re-order your route. With a route dialog, you can do the following:

  • List All: list all the routes that you have defined on this map
  • Print: get a map print-out of your route, with each stop marked on the map and listed
  • Reset: clear your current changes
  • Show: show the routes between the destinations
  • Save As: Save your route for future reference
  • Close: dismiss the route dialog

Routes in Smart Phone

After you’ve defined your routes on a map, visit the map from your Smart Phone. To see the routes, click on the menu item and click on the Routes option. This will bring up a list of your routes, so you can click on the one that you want. Once you are on the route, you can click on any destination to get directions to that destination.

Trip Planner: Routes in Smart Phone
Trip Planner: Routes in Smart Phone

Heat Map Visualization in ZeeMaps

Heat Map Overview

Heat map, a density visualization technique, shows areas of high and low concentration on a map. While a point map with 10′s of thousands of locations can become cluttered, a heat map visualization of the same data can quickly show areas of dense population.

For example, if you plot the locations of all your customers as a heat map, you can quickly see where there are pockets of low or high number of customers.

ZeeMaps provides support for a heat map in both the interactive and print versions. Currently we look at the frequency, or number of points at a given location, to determine the density. Over time we’ll extend this to allow for the density value to be determined through one of the the marker fields.

When combined with the Zip Code Finder tool in ZeeMaps, this can be a great way to quickly determine the zip codes with high density of points on a map.

Example Heat Map

Here’s an example of a map of locations of all the Used Computer Stores in the US. With the heat map, one can quickly see that Boston and New York are the most dense areas, while other major cities like San Francisco, Dallas, etc., have some notable presence as well. If you click on the icon at the top right of the map the display will change to the regular clustered point map.

We can also get an image of the same map, using the menu item Print or Share -> PDF/PNG Image. In the resulting dialog, we check the option for “Heat Map” for the pin style.

Heat Map of Used Computer Stores in the US
Heat Map of Used Computer Stores in the US

Setting a Heat Map in ZeeMaps

To turn on the heat map feature for your map, go to the settings page (menu Map -> Settings). Click on the Map Display tab. Check the box for “Enable Heat Map” and hit Save Changes. Go back to the map and it will turn the visualization into a heat map. There will be a small icon at the top right of the map (see interactive map above). You can click on that icon to toggle the display from a heat map to a regular point map.

Map Settings menu
Map Settings Menu item
Enable Heat Map in ZeeMaps
Enable Heat Map in ZeeMaps

Geo Maps Auto-Refresh Updated Display

Geo Maps Overview

Often, it is useful to show continuously updated geo maps. For example, geo maps updated by a large number of field operators. In the field, operators can indicate status change for job sites by changing the color of markers on the geo map. Similarly, crowdsourced geo maps would show updates from the field as new locations are added. For such geo maps, it is often desirable to display the geo map on a large screen, visible to several users and employees to monitor progress. This can also be useful in conferences, e.g., where each attendee marks their location of origin or interest. In classrooms, you can use such geo maps for students to mark their locations.

Manually refreshing the geo map screen every so often becomes tedious quickly. It is much better if the geo map can refresh itself every few minutes.

ZeeMaps allows you to set up your geo map for auto-refresh. Once set up for auto-refresh, you can leave the geo map visible on a browser window and it will automatically refresh itself every five minutes.

Enabling Auto-Refresh for Geo Maps in ZeeMaps

To enable auto-refresh of your geo maps, use the Map -> Settings menu to go the settings page. Click on the Map Display tab in the settings page. Check the box for “Auto-Refresh map markers every 5 minutes”. Hit Save Changes.

Map Settings menu
Map Settings Menu item
Setting for Auto Refreshing Geo Maps
Auto-Refresh your Geo Maps

To recap, ZeeMaps provides many ways of making changes to geo map markers concurrently by many users. Users can add more locations to a geo map. They change the status of a geo map marker by changing its color. Manually refreshing the geo map on a continuous basis is tedious. ZeeMaps’ capability auto-refreshed every few minutes makes it much easier to setup overview geo maps for a groups of users.

Google Maps Scale in Miles — Change from Kilometers

By default, Google Maps scale is displayed at the bottom right of the map in kilometers (or meters at close range), as shown in the diagram below.

Google Maps Scale in Kilometers
Google Maps shows scale in km

If you want to see the Google Maps scale in miles (or feet), you’ll need to click on the scale to switch between kilometers and miles. This is okay once in a while, but can become irritating if you have to do it all the time for your maps.

We’ve added a new customization where you can specify that you want the scale in miles for your map.

To change this setting, use the Map -> Settings menu to go to the settings page on your map menu. Then, click on the Map Display tab, check the box for Use “Miles” scale control, and hit Save Changes. Go back to your map and the scale should now be in miles instead of kilometers.

Map Settings menu item
Map Settings menu item
Change Google Maps scale to miles in ZeeMaps
Change map scale to miles in ZeeMaps