Drawn Placemarks With Google Maps
While Google Maps is, perhaps, most commonly used to find places and directions, Google provides a wide variety of features for creating customized maps.
- Go to drive.google.com and log into Google Drive using your gmail account login. If you do not have a Google account, you can create one for free
- To create a new map, click the New button, More, and Google My Maps
- If Google My Maps does not appear as an option, select Connect More Apps and search for Google My Maps
- You may want to give the map a meaningful name when you create it so you don't forget to name it later
Drawing Point Placemarks
Point placemarks are used to represent specific locations.
In this example, these are entertainment venues in downtown Spokane, WA.
- Click on the placemark icon on the drawing toolbar
- Click on the map on the location where you want to add the placemark
- Give the point a meaningful title and description that will be displayed when a user clicks on the placemark
- You can adjust the symbology of placemarks to represent different types of locations
- You might also consider changing the base map if its content obscures the placemarks you have added
Point Placemarks From Search Results
Point placemarks can also be created from search results by selecting the Add to Map link in the pop-up for the point you wish to add.
Shape placemarks are used to draw polygons that represent areas like regions or districts.
In this example, this is the Davenport Arts District in downtown Spokane, WA.
- Choosing the draw a line button and add a line or shape you can trace a polygon outline, clicking on corners to add nodes that connect the line segments
- When you get back to the beginning and click on the point where you started, the polygon will be closed
- You will be prompted to add attributes to the shape - a name and a description
- You can change the symbology (color and fill) of the shape to make it look better or to be consistent with other features on the map. In this case, the fill is a bit dark. Clicking on the paint bucket and changing the color and transparency makes it stand out a bit more while not obscuring the underlying base map.
You can also add driving directions lines to a map using the same tool. For this example, I will draw a route approximating the shortest route from the arts district to the nearest emergency room.
It is possible to change the base map, which is a map placed under a thematic map to give geographic context to the features.
In this case, the information on the default base map makes the map a bit cluttered, and the light political or mono city base maps make the features stand out a bit more clearly.
Finally, you should set the sharing for the map.
Click the Share link, change who has access, and select Public on the web.
Get a link to the map from the Link to Share box at the top of the sharing dialogue. You can then share the map by texting or e-mailing this link.
If you want to embed this map in a web page, you can get HTML iframe code by clicking on the top ellipsis and selecting Embed on my site.
KML Export and Import
You can also save the contents of a map to a Keyhole Markup Language (KML) file.
A KML file allows you to import maps into Google Earth or desktop GIS programs like ArcMap. KML files also allow you to save files as documents, which you can then use to easily recreate old maps.
You export to a KML file by clicking on the ellipses at the top of the map and selecting Export to KML/KMZ.
To create a new map from a KML file, start a new map from Google Drive and Import the KML file into a layer.
Google Maps automatically saves changes as you make them, so when you are done with your map, you can just close the window.
If you want to re-open the map later, you can just double-click on it in Google Drive.