Web 2.0 + Housing Maps = A Great Preview Of The Web To Come
This has got to be really a preview of the Web to come. For you cutting-edge readers and Web 2.0 developers this may look like nothing new or for which to roll your head over, but for whoever is not a geek, this is really the coolest preview of the Web to come (the so-called Web 2.0)I have seen so far.
This free online application is nothing but a great, smart mashup of two open services available on the web. One is Craigslist, the popular online classified ads free service which has been taking away tons of business (and money) from US-based newspaper classifieds. Craigslist offers a no-frill interface accessible according to different categorization views and very straightforward to use. The other one is Google Maps, a free interactive mapping and visualization service providing direct access to zoomable maps or satellite views of the entire planet.
Now, when you extract from Craigslist all of the apartment rental classifieds and mix them up with Google Maps you do get an amazingly useful visual maps of who is renting what.
Housingmaps, such is the name of this truly smart online service, provides the ability to further leverage the intelligence emebedded in the original source services while taking full advantage of the open APIs provided.
At the end of June Google opened a set of programming interfaces for its popular Google Maps service, in the very hope that developers would start overlaying data from outside sources onto its own maps.
"Rademacher's Google-Craigslist hack earned him a star role at Where 2.0. Tim O'Reilly, the web-trend predictor at the helm of the O'Reilly publishing company, sees the future of the internet in these innovative, unpaid hacks."
"Google Maps with Craigslist is the first Web 2.0 application," O'Reilly said, referring to his belief that the future of the internet will be created from interlocking connections of open data services that will be constantly improved and tweaked.
(Source: Wired News)
But let me show you how this service works and why it is so great.
When you hit HousingMaps.com on your preferred browser, you land on a page that look like this:
The first thing you can do is to move the map anywhere you like by simply clicking and dragging with your mouse cursor over it.
You can then click on one of the green balloons indicating cities for which this service is active.
Once you click on a specific city you are offered the option of selecting among apartments for rent, for sale, room vacancies and sublets.
Once selected your preferred category, you can zoom in and out at your preferred magnification level and see at-a-glance all of the housing vacancies for the selected city neatly displayed on the map with yellow and red balloons.
On the left side of the screen you see the actual map of the selected city with the colored balloons placed at the precise location of where each vacancy is; on the right side of the screen you have a list of all apartments available sorted according to how recent they are: most recent first, oldest last. In fact, you may decide yourself how to best sort this list by clicking on any of the column labels available on top of it. These include availability of pictures, price, number of bedrooms, description, date of classified, city.
Yellow balloons indicate that images for that vacancy are available. To see them you need only to hover your mouse on any yellow balloon and you will see the published preview photos for that location alongside key information about the vacancy: size, number of rooms, cost, location, etc.
The map can also be switched at anytime to a satellite photo view, which allows you to clearly spot main roads, other buildings and public works with ease. Watching the housing location with the satellite view on allows also to clearly view how your selected housing is close to parks, shopping malls, main highways and other services or locations of importance to you.
An hybrid view, mixing satellite imagery and map information tops the view customization possibilities offering the best of both worlds.
To make the housing researcher job faster and easier Housingmaps.com makes available right on top of his visualization pane two simple category selectors allowing you to decide before hand the location and price range of the housing you are looking for. The two filters are organized in simple to use drop-down menus and do provide indeed an intuitive fast dive into your housing hunt.
An extra set of optional filters (they are displayed only if you wish so) allow you to specify further keywords restricting your search as well as the ability to specify the number of rooms, the availability of pictures and whether dogs and cats are welcome guests.
If you had been wondering what Web 2.0 was all about, now you have gotten a real great example of it.
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