Monday, June 19, 2006

Review of Online Mapping Sites: Maporama

Maporama is a mapping site from France. While it does cover the United States its core is Europe and that shows.

User Friendliness
The user friendliness of Maporama comes from its Spartan-look and rich background information. First off a little drop down box allows users to choose from twenty-six different languages. Languages can be changed at anytime without losing search data.

Simple text boxes a la Mapquest are all that is used to guide users. The Point of Interest search option is powerful and gave plenty of reasonable results.

Map control is slightly better than Mapquest but still behind the likes of Yahoo or Google's. It acts likes frames (the old school way). Users have the option to change what clicking on the map does with three options. Zoom levels make sense and there is a visual scale visible.

There is no main screen map to explore so one must know what they are looking for. The option for a new search is a little hyperlink hidden near the map. In the era of maps on every screen and easy-to-find text boxes Maporama is woe-fully out of date.

Driving Directions
Maporama is for Europeans. Period. The long driving test results were guiding me well over two hours off course. The recommended path was almost pure interstate. What surprises me is that while it passed the much faster highways it knew the average sized Kansas town's roads.

The short driving tests results also sent me out of the way. Sad because Maporama was showing promise.

Map Quality and Map Quantity
There are two available views: the road atlas and physical. However, the beautiful physical view is only available zoomed out. While it is very unfortunate that this is only true view it is surprisingly detailed. The road map is clean of clutter. This is good for finding roads but when one wants to know where a park is they are out of luck.

There database is huge. A plethora of nations from around the world are available. It is nice for Europeans to plan trips via car from Paris to Budapest.

There are a fair number of extras for Maporama. Weather information is available for some of the searched map areas. Maps can be transferred via e-mail or PDA. In some cities walking or subway routes can be chosen. Toll booths can be skipped.

The problem with these features is that the majority of them only work in Europe. The bells and whistles can not be heard nor seen by Americans. Also, nothing here is new or unique.

Maporama is simple yet has some meat on the bones. However, its taste is best enjoyed by Europeans and not Americans.

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