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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mapshark, Maps Search Engine

Mapshark is a search engine trying to dig through maps mashups only (those websites making use of Google’s Maps API, the Yahoo Maps API and so on). Creator Andrew Mitton from Anchorage, Alaska, explained to me how he implemented this tool using Google’s Custom Search Engine service:

The pages indexed in mapshark are limited to the sites or pages I designate. The main tool I use to add pages or sites to mapshark is the Google Marker. This is a handy little tool that sits in the bookmarks toolbar in Firefox. When I’m on the page of a site I want to add to mapshark, I click the Google Marker. A window then pops up asking me if I want to either include or exclude just this page or all pages that contain the main URL. I can also go to the control panel and tweak the URL pattern that I want included in the search engine. Then Google does its magic when someone enters a query into mapshark.

I can also add refinements to the engine. I started out with a bunch of these, but found that most of the refinements I selected were the same as queries. So I deleted all but four of them.

It’s really just as easy as that. I think I’ve spent about $100 on mapshark plus lots of hours creating the site. I’m an attorney by day and programming hobbyist at night. So it’s pretty amazing that with the help of all those smart people at Google I can create a powerful search engine.

If you spotted an interesting Google Maps mashup or created one yourself, you can submit it to Mapshark.

[Thanks Andrew!]


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