Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tripline Launches with Google Geo APIs

We’ve just launched Tripline (http://www.tripline.net), and we’re excited to talk about how we’re using Google Maps. We’ve been laboring for months in solitude, so it feels great to finally talk about what we’ve built.

Tripline is all about maps. The Tripline concept goes back to 2005 when I started manually creating map-based plans to visualize upcoming trips. I’m one of those people who can stare at the moving map on an airplane for the duration of a long flight, so my desire to understand travel from a geographical viewpoint is inherent, and I think quite common. And, as we so often see in movies, a moving line on a map is a great way to tell a story.

The Tripline Player uses the Google Maps API for Flash and animates progression from point to point using a simplified KML-like data structure. We chose Flash primarily because it was the best platform to combine the maps, animation, and soundtrack elements that were part of the design. It also means that trips are shareable, as you can see from the example embedded above. We chose the terrain view because we think it best conveys the feeling of an adventurous journey. One of my favorite things to do is to press play, enter full screen mode and just sit back and watch a story unfold. The Google Maps API for Flash helps make that experience smooth and beautiful. It’s essential to our product.

The player represents the end-product of a created trip, but what about the creation process itself? Our goal was to make trip-creation as simple and flexible as typing a bullet list, and we spent a lot of time working towards that goal. We’re using many different Maps API components in our trip editor, including geodesic polylines, custom markers and custom infowindows. To add places, we’re using the Google AJAX Search API and the Geocoder API, and for trip thumbnails, we’re using the Google Static Maps API.

Speed and reliability are also essential. Users will forgive a lack of features and even bad design, but if your application is slow, you’re dead. The Google Maps APIs are always on and always fast, which is something that very few services can guarantee. That's one of the key reasons why we use Google services to support the core capabilities of our product. We’ve been live now for just under a month, and it’s been smooth sailing. We’re also hard at work on our next release, so stay tuned for more. Thanks Google.