Location, location, location! Once the mantra of store fronts and retailers, today location-based mobile searches, applications and interactions have become some of the most valuable parts of the web. Google Maps, Foursquare and thousands of other applications have demonstrated the value of mapping events, businesses, and everything in-between.
In this article I’ll be sharing a couple of my favourite mapping solutions for Joomla!
Weever Apps – Mobile GPS Maps for any K2 Article, Category, or Tag
I’ll start with my obvious favourite – Weever Apps (disclaimer: I’m one of the inventors). Weever Apps is a plugin for turning Joomla! and web-wide content an organization has into an HTML5 web app. Shortly into our BETA, we realized how many organizations would need to share GPS-enabled mobile maps with their customers, as well as:
- Events with multiple locations
- Outdoor / Tourism directories and listings
- Business Associations and Member Directories
Our solution? Allow any content in a Joomla! site to be “geotagged” with a location for placement on a mobile, GPS enabled map within a Weever App. This way, a site editor could turn the standard article(s), categories, or tags of their choice into custom map-markers and add new locations as they posted to their blog or created new articles.
The visitor outreach method here is pretty straightforward: share the mobile app by QR Code or URL and the map displays to the smart phone user instantly, while showing the nearest listings by default on a GPS-enabled mobile map. When a user chooses a marker, the app “swipes” over to display the article with text, video, photos or whatever format you choose.
One early obstacle we encountered was that there was no obvious way to add an “address” input field to Joomla!’s default article-editing screens. For now, we’re using the free K2 plugin from JoomlaWorks and we soon hope to extend mapping capability to Zoo, JSeblod CCK and more Joomla! extensions in the future. We’ve also created a matching “directory” feature to view locations and nearest-locations in a more traditional blog style format.
The WordPress platform, in comparison to Joomla!, has a native machine app for posting new content to a WordPress site from a mobile device. The cool thing about this method is that you can take a photo, upload that photo and some text to your blog. This allows you to update your site and mobile-map in a Weever App automatically right from where you’re standing – there is no need to add an address or lat/long.
I’m currently searching for a way to do this kind of one-step mapping with Joomla! as well. Imagine having the ability to easily document your hiking trail route or take note of a tire-shredding pothole for the city to fix. Snap a photo, upload it to your site, and it maps automatically! This could be a powerful feature for boutique real estate agents and businesses with multiple locations or agents in the field. Cities and communities could benefit from the quick mapping of essential services or visitor attractions. I want to enable Joomla! to become a powerful platform for community feedback and event-mapping – it just makes sense.
A really cool Joomla! Hack – Mosets & Moxie Maps
Many of you may be familiar with Mosets Directory, the Joomla! extension that powers Joomla!’s own extensions directory. “Moxie Maps” is a really cool plugin for adding maps and locations to all of those listings.
Working with developer Sam Lewis of Moxie Maps earlier this year, we built the showcase site http://welcomecyclists.ca. Created for a cycle-tourism not-for-profit in Toronto, Ontario, the combination of Moxie and Mosets creates “maps-on-the-fly” based on search results. Search for “coffee” and see a map of all bike-friendly coffee shops in the region, with map-markers organized by corresponding categories in the Mosets directory.
The way it all works: listings in Mosets directory have an address. When those listings are displayed for a search results, the addresses are used to generate a map, and the directory –category determines which map-maker image is used. Since reviews, feedback, and ratings (along with other fields) are part of the Mosets directory extension by default, this platform method can intake submissions for new listings similar to the way Joomla! article submissions work, but with more predefined fields.
Sam and I also put a little work into “access control,” ensuring that only certain users may view certain maps and markers. Moxie and Mosets is very powerful, but please keep in mind that this solution is a highly technical hack – it requires a real time commitment and a solid understanding of both code and web site objectives to accomplish effectively. As of last time I checked, the Moxie/Mosets method wasn’t yet mobile-available, but I do believe that either Sam Lewis or Weever Apps will accomplish this in the near future.
That’s it for now! Those are my two favourites, but since the community creates new code all the time, put your go-to mapping tricks, tips, and hacks in the comments. For more information on what I’ve discussed here, check out: