Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Managing Users & Collaboration

It's a new year and we have a lot of exciting things planned. In December we quietly rolled out some really big features which you probably noticed on our update log. In this post we are going to talk about them a bit more in depth.

Synchronous Collaboration

Since starting Scribble Maps one thing that it has constantly been used for what collaboration and this was despite the collaboration having some major problems. The biggest issue is that if two people were working on the same map at the same, whoever saved last would overwrite changes by the other user. This created some serious restrictions on what you could do with Scribble Maps. For instance if a teacher wanted their entire class to work on one map, they would constantly run into problems.

We had considered all types of ways to solve this problem but the problems with all the ways we reviewed were they were designed for crowd sourcing, we wanted to create something designed for organizations and smaller groups that was not tedious.

The solution we arrived at was rather a simple one, it was a method coders use regularly when working together on projects and that is the idea of merging. If someone makes changes to a map while you are working on it, you will be given a prompt like this.

Clicking merge will pull the most recent map, combine it with yours, and save the result. Overwrite will save only your changes and skip merging. We also added a "merge" option to the load/import menu. This will allow you to save maps with different Map Id, and merge them together. Merge works differently than import that if an overlay already exists, it will not create a duplicate. This will make combining maps much easier.

This brings us to our next large feature.

Managing Users

Up until this point user management didn't exist. A map could be associated with an account and you could let someone view/edit it by giving them a password. This created an issue, however, if you created a secure map and gave another user the password they could both edit and view it even if you really only wanted them to be able to view it and not edit it. Now when you save a map clicking "manager users" will let you add users to the map.

As a free user you can add up to 3 free users and unlimited VIP users. As a VIP user you can add 5 free users and unlimited VIP users. Here is a quick breakdown of the roles.


An admin can view, edit, and manage users. It should be noted that if you are the creator of the map, you will always have ultimate control and you never to need to add your self.


An editor can view and edit a map but does not have the ability to manage users.


A viewer can view a map. This is most relevant to the "secure" map type. Normally a secure map requires a password to view. If a user is added as a viewer, they are allowed to view the secure map without a password but they must be logged into their account.

Other Notes

Password functionality works the same, it still acts as a view and edit key. However, with the new user management you no longer need to give out a password if you only want a user to view a map and not edit it. If you have any questions about this or other functionality please do not hesitate to drop us a line using the "Get Help" button.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Road Point Snapping

Recently we rolled out our road snapping feature. This feature was something we received requests for a lot, but it was technically very difficult to implement. However, we now have our own open street maps server and this allows us to grab road data directly. Drawing something like a curve before was very difficult. Now with road snapping it is much easier.

The output data is actually clean data derived from OSM. Meaning the nodes of the road will match those generated from OSM. We use a combination of tactics for this including path finding and in some cases this might make the road snapping act oddly, we are aware of this and are going to improve it in future versions, but we decided it was good enough to roll out in a beta version so our users could start using it immediately.

OSM / Google inconsistencies
You might notice as you are using this, the guide layer (represented by a thin blue line) might not line up perfectly with Google. It should line up perfectly with data from Mapbox and OSM.

Depending on how highly trafficked an area is will depend how accurate and close the data is. We should take the time to note that you can contribute yourself at http://www.openstreetmap.org.

Future with OSM
By setting up our own OSM infrastructure this is going to have some great implications for us in the future. Including, but not limited to, the ability to have a totally independent API, our own independent Scribble Maps layers, and the also a new feature to allow you to highlight countries/states etc..

Monday, June 13, 2016

Rotate Tool

Today we have rolled out a new tool to our line up. We have got a lot of requests for this one and it is the rotation tool. One of the most exciting things about this new update is the ability to rotate text labels. This is something completely new to all versions of Scribble Maps. This will allow you to place text labels on or along streets. This also works with the new "shrink on zoom" feature as well. Check out this gif below to see how it works!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Massive News! Wordpress.com Support!

We discovered something amazing today that we were not aware of and that is Wordpress.com now supports ScribbleMaps.com interactive embeds! Previous to this the only way to get a ScribbleMaps.com interactive embed on a wordpress site would be to self-host. We are so happy to announce that you can now use our embeds with their hosted solution!

How To Embed a Map on Wordpress.com

Get the Share Link

Embedding a Scribble Map on wordpress.com is as easy as copy and pasting the "share link" into your blog post. The share link is not the same as the embed code. We will be posting an update that identifies the Share Link as a wordpress.com embed as well. Here is a screenshot of what you need to copy from Scribble Maps to get an interactive embed on your blog post.

Copy URL Into blog post
All you need to do is then post the URL directly into your blog post and it will automatically convert to an interactive embed!

We are excited to see how you start using Scribble Maps is your wordpress.com blogs!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Point Snapping, Line Merging and Legend Creator!

Today we released a large update that have some things we are very excited about.

Point Snapping

Something that is very common is creating polygons that are flush with each other. Up until this point making shapes flush with each other was very challenging. With our update today, doing this is now a snap (groans).

Point snapping can also be used when changing lines as well. A possible creative feature is using lines and snapping to create polygons that have different color of edges. It is also makes its possible to create accurate T-intersections with correct coordinates.

Disable Point Snapping

There might be certain instances when you want to disable point snapping functionality and for this we have added a new setting which can be accessed through the menu or the gear in the bottom left.

Line Merging

Previous to this update it was not possible to merge two lines after they had been drawn. This could result in a lot of time loss if you painstakingly drew a portion of a trail only to realize it wasn't connected to your first line. We apologize retroactively for this lost time and hope this feature saves you much time in the future.

Legend Creator

We have now transitioned the legend creator over to our new editor. The legend creator allows you to create a legend of different styles used on the map. The legend will show up on images as well.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Developers: Saving Google API Credits with Autocomplete

There are a lot of winners with Google's new API pricing. However, if your app is using the whole suite of mapping functionality and you have a lot of users you might find your pool will start declining fast. Two functions that will draw directly on your pool and are not subject to the daily free quota is autocomplete and place search.

If you use your Google licence with the Scribble Maps API we do some of these optimizations out of the box, but if you are building your own custom implementation directly on top of the Google Maps API, there is a simple update you can do to save you some autocomplete credits.

The standard auto-complete functionality will send out an auto-complete request with every change in the input. It's possible to cut the amount of credits used significantly by putting in a timeout when the input changes.

Here is a very basic example.

 var acTimeOut;  
 textSearchInput.onkeyup = function() {  
 acTimeout = setTimeout(function() {  
 //put auto-complete calls in here  
 }, 250);  

So every time a user starts typing in the input the autocomplete will not fire until there is a momentary delay. The delay of 250ms can be reduced to make the autocomplete fire more often. If the user quickly types "Toronto", only one auto-complete call will be executed instead of 8 when the user hesitates.

We find the timed delay works the best. A critical point to this is to make sure that the user interface indicates that a search is going on as they are typing. In our case we use an animated spinner. This way if the user is typing quickly and not seeing results, the animated spinner will give them enough pause to see the results.

It should be noted that implementing this is compliant with their current terms of use. All this method essentially does is throttle the amount of out bound autocomplete calls from the user.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New Overhauled Search!

We are very excited about our new search and we think you will love the utility of the new features we have added.

Auto-Complete + POI + Location
Our previous search only supported street addresses but our new search now has auto-complete, POI searching, and address searching. This search is available not only on editor but on all widgets as well starting today.

Nearby Search
The largest addition to the search function is the ability to search for POIs. Clicking on a location on the left will take you to the nearby search function where you can see places in the vicinity of your selected location or marker.

You can change markers of categories and add places one by one or all at the same time.

Tutorial and Real Estate Maps
We think this functionality is useful in a lot of different areas but think it is particularly useful in real estate. We have created a tutorial video covering this new search functionality that uses a real estate example.