Google Maps Supports Custom Icons

    September 20, 2007

“See, you take a left at the green balloon, then a right at the red one, then make a U-turn at the yellow balloon . . .”  Not the best way to give (or get) directions, huh?  So Google Maps has added support for users’ custom icons.

“[N]ow you can use any image on the web for your placemarks,” explains Keith Golden, a Google Maps software engineer, on the Google LatLong Blog.  “Just click on the new ‘Add an icon’ link in the icon menu, type the URL into the dialog box, and you’re good to go.”

Golden goes on to give an example involving a turkey, writing, “I typed in to get my majestic bird.”  Right.  Well, turkey farmers and Ben Franklin fans might appreciate the image, anyway.

But for those who feel like displaying something entirely new, Golden continues, “You can also make up your own icons.  Although many image formats will work, PNGs with transparent backgrounds look best on the map.  Another idea is to use photo thumbnails.”  This might work out quite well, really, when creating directions to and from people’s houses.

And that’s about all there is to this story.  The development is just a small improvement, but it should make Google Maps easier (and more fun) to use.