Google Maps is one of the cooler services the search giant has to offer. While I usually use the service to get a street view of the Amazon, some people actually use it for business. Some business Web sites implement Google Maps on their site as a store locator so customers can easily find their location. Google thinks they can provide something better than just a store locator though.
Today Google Google+Geo+Developers+Blog%29">introduced the Store Locator Utility Library, an open-source library that "makes it simple for developers to create interactive, useful store locators." You see, the fine folks at Google found that store locators before were just that, store locators. This new tool allows developers to get creative and create custom store locators that really pop out.
With the Store Locator Utility Library, developers can now create custom store locators with these functions: list of stores, InfoWindow with detail, HTML5 geolocation, street view, autocomplete search and directions. While these were all features in Google Maps proper, this makes it easier for developers to implement all these into a single store locator application.
One of the more unique features of the new store locator is that it can draw from a database to fill in the store locator with all the locations. The video below uses the example of pulling data from data.gov.au to find all the medicare offices in Australia. A user can then search from within this store locator with autocomplete to find the medicare offices closest to the Google Sydney office.
While the new utility is doing all the hard work for you, developers can now focus on making things creative. Using the medicare example again, the video shows the usual Google Maps pins being replaced by the Medicare logo. This is just one example of customization. Imagine if you will the Best Buy store locator using their logo as pins. It would make a store locator far more attractive and custom branded to the business' interest.
Check out the full video below for all of the details. If you want to get started right away on making changes to your store locator, you can grab the open source utility library at the project homepage.