How about getting the possibility to style the map from the Google Map API in any way you like.
For basic usage, the standard colors from Google Maps are fine, but if you have a specific map where you want to highlight specific types of data – eg. highways, or just want to customize the look and feel of the map, you now have the chance with the new styling possibilities in V3 of the Google Maps API.
Google Map styling possibilitie
I first saw the possibility to customize the look and feel of maps in the CloudMade map API. Even though customization sounds like a nice-to-have feature – it can be very useful to increase focus on specific data in the map. The good news is that customization of the maps now also are possible with Google Maps API.
You can currently add customized styles to the following data types:
|administrative||Apply the rule to administrative areas.|
|administrative.country||Apply the rule to countries.|
|administrative.land_parcel||Apply the rule to land parcels.|
|administrative.locality||Apply the rule to localities.|
|administrative.neighborhood||Apply the rule to neighborhoods.|
|administrative.province||Apply the rule to provinces.|
|all||Apply the rule to all selector types.|
|landscape||Apply the rule to landscapes.|
|landscape.man_made||Apply the rule to man made structures.|
|landscape.natural||Apply the rule to natural features.|
|poi||Apply the rule to points of interest.|
|poi.attraction||Apply the rule to attractions for tourists.|
|poi.business||Apply the rule to businesses.|
|poi.government||Apply the rule to government buildings.|
|poi.medical||Apply the rule to emergency services (hospitals, pharmacies, police, doctors, etc).|
|poi.park||Apply the rule to parks.|
|poi.place_of_worship||Apply the rule to places of worship, such as church, temple, or mosque.|
|poi.school||Apply the rule to schools.|
|poi.sports_complex||Apply the rule to sports complexes.|
|road||Apply the rule to all roads.|
|road.arterial||Apply the rule to arterial roads.|
|road.highway||Apply the rule to highways.|
|road.local||Apply the rule to local roads.|
|transit||Apply the rule to all transit stations and lines.|
|transit.line||Apply the rule to transit lines.|
|transit.station||Apply the rule to all transit stations.|
|transit.station.airport||Apply the rule to airports.|
|transit.station.bus||Apply the rule to bus stops.|
|transit.station.rail||Apply the rule to rail stations.|
|water||Apply the rule to bodies of water.|
As you can see, there is plenty of tweaking possibilities.
How to style Google Maps
When you want to style your map, you need to insert a JSON object that contains map style definition into your normal Google Map definition on your site.
The code creates the following map of central London where:
- Public transportation stops has been highlighted
- Water in a stronger blue color
- Land in a light blue color
- Stronger road colors
Creating the styling JSON can be a little tricky, but Google has created a great tool where you can easily modify the map colors, and copy the JSON created to your script.
The UI is not as intuitive as CloudMade maps, but it’s a great help
Customization of map colors is a great new feature in Google Map API v3. Adding colors defines as a JSON object including hue, saturation and lightness is quite complicated, however with the Google Maps API Styled Map Wizard it can be done without too much trouble.
My recommendation is to try it out and play a little around with the possibilities.