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A Review of Online Mapping Sites: Map24

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This is part 3 of a 9 part series reviewing online mapping sites. Click here for the introduction to the series.

Map24 is a German-based company that has taken a slightly different approach to offering its services. It works much like the other online mapping sites by having a user search for an address or a set of directions but it uses Java-script to produce its maps in a separate frame. The initial map takes slightly longer to load but once loaded, it offers more functionality than most of the other online map services. Unfortunately, the map is initially zoomed in too far and does not provide enough context.

In contrast to Google Maps / Local, Map24 has sought to include a number of useful functions. Information about a feature or area can be brought up by allowing the cursor to hover over it. As well, users can measure a distance or route manually. Aside from having the usual zoom in and and out buttons, Map24 offers a button that will zoom out from the map briefly, then zoom back in so the user can orient themselves to the larger area. As well, a sort of pop-up window shows a little locator map. Users who register will be able to save their settings and up to 10 separate addresses (although during testing I was unable to find the save button described in the Help menu).

The map itself was simple but showed only single lines for some wider rivers and lakes. Some of the annotation and symbols tended to run into each (see image to the left). Data layers on the map include roads, airports, railways, water bodies and provincial / state / national parks. At the smaller scale levels, maps display gas stations, hotels and auto service centres.

Map24 splits up the world into continents or sub-continents. North America covers Canada, the United States and Mexico. Other areas covered include Europe, South America, and parts of the Middle East. To access a country in another continent, users need to click on the continent, then select the country from the dropdown list.

Direction-finding is similar to other web mapping sites but also has a few more features. Users can select between fastest and shortest options as well as indicating if they would like to know of any services such as banks, cinemas, churches, service centers among many others. As well, Map24 allows users to input their estimated speed on highways, roads and streets. This provides a fairly accurate indication of the time any trip might take (barring traffic tie-ups). With such fine tuning to my estimated speed I was able to come up with a time that was fairly close to my actual time (31 versus 32). The difference in the distance for the same route was less than a kilometre.

In short: Map24 probably provides more features than any other online mapping service and is probably the site of choice for those who would like more functionality. Navigating about the site, however, takes a bit of time getting used to. The site is not for someone looking for a quick and easy map.

Tomorrow: Maporama

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