links for 2008-05-15

Adding Wikipedia articles to Google Maps

Google started baking some mashups into the main Google Maps interface earlier this week. As a Wikipedia editor, the one that intrigued me was the ability to hover over a feature on a map and click through to a related Wikipedia article. The question I had was, how do I change my article so that it appears on the map?

Fortunately, it appears to be a pretty simple process, with only one complicated bit, the first one:

  1. Find the place. That is, the place that the article is about. Google Maps is of course your friend here. Once you’ve found the location, double-click to center it in your browser.
  2. Get the coordinates.  This actually isn’t as hard as you might think, thanks (again) to Google Maps. The article Obtaining geographic coordinates provides some helpful suggestions, with a special section on Google Maps. I particularly like the bookmarklet provided, because it makes the workflow so simple–find the place as above, then use the bookmarklet to get the coordinates already in a template. Whatever your method, you’ll want to use the appropriate precision.
  3. Add the appropriate template to the article. There are a few different templates that add geographic coordinates to an article, and some Infobox templates (including Template: Infobox University) include a coordinate parameter. But if you use the bookmarklet I mentioned above, you get the coordinates handed to you in a coord template, which is the one you want to use for compatibility with Google. The only change I’d make is to add the display=title parameter, which floats the coordinates up to the top of the page.
  4. Set the template options. The two I recommend are display=title and type= the appropriate value; for a building, use landmark. This is important because it sets the zoom to the appropriate value.
  5. Preview, making sure to click through and check the map link, then publish.

As an example, I added coordinates to the article about the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Now the next question will be: how long does it take those coordinates to percolate over to Google Maps? I suppose we’ll find out.


Still working on getting the new site up and running. I reinstituted the blogroll today, starting from scratch (it’s amazing how many links, old friends’ blogs particularly, have lapsed). If you’re reading this in RSS, you’ll have to go to the site to check it out.

I also removed the widget from my sidebar, because (drumroll) I was able to get their autoposting service to work. So that post with all the links? That’s my bookmarks from yesterday. Right now it’s set to fire daily between 6 and 7 pm, so you’re pretty much guaranteed that you’ll get a daily update from me, though it may not be my wittiest, wisest prose.

One downer: There doesn’t seem to be a way to format the posts. So you’re stuck with my unfiltered output and an ugly format. Maybe once I finish rebuilding the site theme the autoposts will start to look better.