Those fluent in german might want to check out the description in the search.ch blog. I spared that blog from too many technical details. If you landed here, you will have to endure it while you let me point out a few things that we are quite proud of.
Well, no, first of all, please try it out and then come back and read on. Just click to zoom (right click to unzoom) and drag to pan.
The map data is a superposition of aerial photos with street contours and names. This gives the user a high level of details (down to "single tree level" where 1 pixel corresponds to 80cm) and navigational hints. And it looks great. Thanks to Endoxon for the material. This is the Eiger North Face from above. This is where Einstein wrote his theory of special relativity. This is someone water skiing on the Zurich Lake.
Now load the map and resize the browser window. Notice how the map grows and reduces with the browser window? Try fullscreen! If the map is too slow for your gusto, just use a smaller window or switch to the no-photo version by clicking the checkbox on the right.
Not that it should be too slow anyway. The map is loaded in two layers, a highly compressed jpeg layer for the photo and a transparent gif overlay for the labels and some other details. The tile number and the tile size is computed based on the map size to reduce loading time even more. That also means, that the tiles are not precropped or something, we put them together on every request and tried to still maintain a low latency throughout.
Oh, and did you notice how the back button works? It undos zoom operations. On Mozilla even reload works (works as in "doesn't bump you back to the start"). In IE we didn't find anything that can hold a state that isn't reset with a reload. Help is appreciated!
Sorry to repeat myself, but the back button works! We're a bunch of web geek and it bothered us to write an application that breaks basic web principles, so we're especially glad, that we managed to build that in.
The other important web geek feature are the cool URIs! Want to link to a map of Bern? map.search.ch/bern. Or ever wondered how eBay looks in bricks and mortar? map.search.ch/bern/helvetiastrasse-15. Use the e-mail or bookmark link in the footer to get an URI of your current map view. And link like crazy, all your Swiss addresses! :-)
Other small things: On IE the scrollbar works (use shift for horizontal scrolling), so do keyboard shortcuts on all browsers.
Other things coming in the following days and weeks: First of all crazy linking from all over search.ch, especially the phonebook. Then things like the ability to click on a hotel's roof to make a reservation :-)
Have fun exploring Switzerland from a bird's perspective!Posted by seefeld at October 9, 2004 16:42