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TAMU Webmaster's Blog


Information and insight from the A&M Webmasters

Campus Maps

Google Maps – Categories

I have been learning more and more about how the map entries work as I get deeper into this project.  One thing that winds up being much more important than I had first thought was the Primary Category.

When you edit an event you are given the choice of a Primary Category and as many additional categories as you wish.  Whatever you add to the Primary Category will be shown on the public location entry.  I had always thought this was largely cosmetic – I had never clicked on that link myself any time I had looked up a location.  But, if you do click the link that will act as a filter and the search column will show you all of the other nearby entries with that categorization.

This, then, makes choice of category important.  We do want it to be relevant to what our location is, but at the same time we want some consistency that will allow our locations to be cross listed in this sort of search.  So the College of Medicine, for example, might be better served by using “College” as its primary category and “Medical School” as a secondary category rather than the other way around.

Categories are not completely open ended – Google has a select list of allowed categories (which unfortunately are not – to my knowledge anyway – published anywhere.)  This means that we will have to create our own consistency with a common set us category entries.

Monday, September 26th, 2016 Campus Maps No Comments

Google Maps – Photos

One of the most important parts of optimizing your Google Place entry is adding and curating photos.  The selection of good photos makes for better engagement with people searching for and viewing your entry, and Google seems to like and favor those entries that include photos.

There are two types of photo entry that you will need to manage – those which you add yourself and those which have been submitted by the public.

Adding your own photos is relatively simple – just navigate into your location’s dashboard page and click the “photos” link.  From there add your profile and logo image at the top, and then as many other photos as you wish.  The page breaks them down into interior, exterior, team, services, and additional photos.  One positive thing that I have noticed already is that when you add photos to one location they can automatically be pulled in and displayed on related locations as well.

Equally important is curating the images that are submitted from the public or pulled in through Google’s web crawls.  I have found that many problems with photos on the university entry – from poor quality, to advertising from nearby businesses, to images of a completely different location.  There is no magic bullet to update these.  I have simply had to get into the location entry and (repeatedly!) use the Report a Problem link to recommend that the photo be removed.  This generally takes several attempts, but the system does eventually respond and remove the photos.

 

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 Campus Maps No Comments

Google Maps – Ready to Go

Good news on the Google Maps front.  Yesterday afternoon our central account was finally accepted as “verified for bulk uploads.”  This status means that we can claim ownership of the many location entries that have been created across campus and bypass the normal process of postcards and phone calls.  This allows us to get on with the project in earnest.

While this allows us to more easily move forward, we do want to do so deliberately and with a plan.   This project is not something that Marcomm can do on our own.  I expect that this will be an enormously collaborative project where we work with members of your teams to identify and update content, fix inaccuracies, and promote the locations.

While we are still in the planning phases, one thing that I encourage you do do is create a list of the locations which you know are associated with your college, department, or division.  Start looking at information that needs to be updated.  As we meet with each of you I can add members from your team as co-owners or content managers so that you can make these updates.

I will hopefully be in touch soon.

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016 Campus Maps No Comments

New Project – Google Maps on Campus

We have just started a new project that likely will be keeping us busy for the next two years – organizing, correcting, and promoting campus locations on Google Maps.  Those of you who have tried to look up various buildings or offices will understand why this is needed and why it will turn into such an enormous job.

We have over one thousand physical locations on campus, many of which have one or more organizational entities housed within them.  While not every one of these has – or should have – their own Google Places entry, the number which do is pretty staggering.

We are therefore starting small.  We have engaged Up&Up as a vendor to help us get started on a few iconic campus locations and to provide some training for best practices and for tackling some of the unique challenges our campus offers.  Once we get past those locations we will likely form some sort of cross-campus team, either like what we did on the LiveWhale calendar or a special interest group through GoWeb,

I have already started reaching out ad hoc to a few of you to help round up locations and get validations. Many thanks for the cooperation that you all have extended.  I think that does great credit to the trust and spirit of camaraderie we have developed in the campus web community over the past several years. I recognize we won’t e able to make this project a success without that kind of continued collaboration. And if I haven’t called you yet, be sure that sometime in the next several months I probably will…

Monday, September 12th, 2016 Campus Maps 1 Comment

New Site Launched – Campus Maps

We have relaunched the campus maps website yesterday.  It feels strange saying that we need an entire site dedicated to campus maps, but that’s what you get when you have a campus of our size.

We see this site as a companion site to our Visitors’ information site.  It will share the same look, the same audience, and the same tone.  Content will be organized and rotated in a seasonal manner to showcase content that is important to visitors at that particular time of year.

We have kept much of the old content, but hopefully put it into a format that makes it more accessible to viewers.  There will be major sections on campus-wide maps as well as parking/transportation maps.  We also plan to be more aggressive in keeping the Featured Maps section up to date.  This will be an area that we can post maps that are relevant in time to a particular event — game day, graduation, Parents’ Weekend, etc.

 

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 Campus Maps No Comments

Campus Tours Legwork

As promised, our major project for this spring is going to be working with Admissions to provide a campus wide virtual tour. A third party vendor has been selected to supply the central campus tour, but we want to flesh out the site beyond their offering and provide our own supplemental information on the areas that they don’t cover.

Our team is in the process of collecting locations to add. We will then start creating photos, panoramas, and videos of the selected locations. We need your help with coming up with this list. We can’t tour each and every building on campus looking for the interesting spots to feature, but you are in those building every day. If your building has some sort of interesting feature, collection, or display — either inside or outside the building — please let us know.

Also let us know if you already have some sort of tour, photo collection, or anything else that highlights your part of campus. We plan to make this system extensible enough that we can link to or otherwise include your content. If you have old content but think it is time to upgrade, also get in touch with us. We are actively looking for partners in providing online content.

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 Campus Maps, Campus Tours 1 Comment

Introducing Mobile Maps

Need to find a building on the go? Want to see all the dining locations on campus? Need to know where a bus stop is? Want to find out where a course is held and see it on a map? You’re covered. Version one of mobile maps is out and is integrating everywhere!

Thanks to the Google Maps Javascript API, we were able to integrate our knowledge of local building data into a map service that works fluently on the majority of smartphones post 2009. Our primary goal for this project was to offer a service that allowed anyone on any device to easily find a building they were looking for on campus. Other requirements for this project included the ability for mobile maps to integrate with the rest of our mobile website easily (Course Search, Bus Routes, Hours of Operation, Dining…). Since a good majority of the site is dynamically generated, the primary issue was making sure we could locally query building data and throw it up on a map.

That’s not even the best part. You can create a mobile map too! As our service grows, our API will too. So go ahead and create mobile map of where you will be tailgating this weekend!

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Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 Campus Maps, Mobile Web, Podcasting No Comments

new map needs feedback

We’ve been working with the fine folks over at Facilities Coordination as they refine their campus map. Now, they’ve launched a new “beta” version of it and are would like the web community to “bang on it”.

Basically this map offers the FCOR folks some greater flexibility for publishing maps and from what Jim tells me, it renders tiles a whole lot faster.

We all use the campus map in some way. The data powers our TAMUmobile maps, we use it to point people to our buildings for visits or for special events, and it is integrated into our calendar.

It’s important to let FCOR know how we use it and what it may need to better meet our needs. So if you you’ve got a few seconds/minutes to spare, help them out by rooting around on it and pass on any feedback over to Jim Bouse at FCOR.

To test it out either click on the screenshot above or visit the beta at: http://aggiemap.tamu.edu/beta/.

Thursday, August 12th, 2010 Campus Maps, design No Comments

Decomissioning of campusmaps

Gentle reminder, the planned decommissioning of campusmaps.tamu.edu is scheduled to take place Friday morning.  Those of you who are still linking to to the service should update your websites quickly to avoid broken links.

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Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 Campus Maps No Comments

Final Link Check for campusmaps.tamu.edu

We have reached the point where traffic to campusmaps.tamu.edu is only about 1/3 of what it originally was, so I think we can say we have been moderately successful in making a graceful transition away from this service and to aggiemap.tamu.edu.

We are therefore announcing that we intend to turn off the campusmaps.tamu.edu service on Friday, April 30.  If you still have any links to this site please take the next few weeks and update them to the new service address.

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Thursday, April 1st, 2010 Campus Maps 1 Comment

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