Platial is a new service, currently in beta, that utilizes Google Maps to allow users to add landmarks and share them with others. We have seen many mashups for Google Maps, but not many of them really sparked my interest or had that certain edge that I was looking for. Platial did. Platial is more community based then most services alike because it has features that both the contributer and users of Platial can use to make every added place more informative. For example, any user can add photos and tags to any location. User can also create maps, make friends, share places, and even include publish a map onto their sites or blogs.

Platial has a very nicely designed user interface making it very easy to use. Platial involves the use of Google Maps for plotting of landmarks and they use these nice looking pointers to show them on the maps. When clicking on a point, the center of the map will slide to it and use Ajax to show a description, tags, and a picture of the place. It is just as simple when adding a place to Platial. You simply find the location on the map and pin-point it. If you want to be more exact though, you can also search for a location and plot it on the map. Also in the above screenshot, you will notice that there are multiple points being shown on the map. This is because Platial also uses longitude and latitude to calculate other places that are near to the current location. It will show these other locations when you click on the “More interesting places” link on the top right of the map. But enough about the map itself because that is not what sparked my interest. What sparked my interest were the details for each landmark created.

Each place created gets its own permanent page that includes collaborative features that make the service a whole lot more informative and useful. Many services like Platial that allow you to mark a location on the map just lets you see the map along with a description and tags. Platial steps it up a bit by allowing any user to include tags, comments, and my favorite, images. I love the imaging functionality built into Platial because users can add photos of the landmark to the landmarks page so viewers can actually see the location. Users may be talking about a specific location in a park and may want to show a specific statue, for example. They can then add the landmark along with a photo of the statue giving the viewers a visual on the location rather then just a map. Hovering over a photos thumbnail will show a larger version of the photo. As of right now, images can only be added by inputting an URL, but according to their FAQ section, they are working on upload functionality. Aside from the images, I mentioned that users can add their own tags and comments as well making it an even stronger collaborative atlas.

Platial also has some other features that makes it stand out including maps and friends. Users are able to save multiple places to a single map for anyone to view. You may know of a lot of coffee shops or golf courses, so why not create a map of them so you can easily find all these locations? That is what Platial allows you to do and easily. Even as you browse through Platial and come through a place that you would like in your map, you can simply click on the “Add to a map” link letting you add the place to any of your maps. I also mentioned that you can make friends using Platial. Platial gives each user their own profile page that includes all their published places, maps, tags, and buddies that have added the user as their buddy. Come across someone that mentions a lot of great places in your area that you may want to keep up on? Just click on the “Add as Buddy” link in a profile and the user will be added as a buddy to your profile. Platial also has a people section where you can search for a user and find the most active users of Platial.

I feel that Platial is one of the more impressive of mapping services on the web because its excellent collaboritive functionality. To me, the strong point was how images could be added to each location allowing locations to be a lot more visual then just a map. I also found searching Platial to be very well done in that it allows you to search for what you are looking for, where you are looking for it, or just one of them. Helps narrowing down on locations. I also liked how Platial allows you to publish a location to your blog, as seen on the Platial Blog, although I couldn’t find the option to publish it as mentioned on their blog. I also recommend viewing the Platial Blog if you are interested in finding more tips and information about Platial.

View Platial – Your Collaborative Atlas.


6 Comments on “Platial – Your Collaborative Atlas”

  1. Pierre says:

    Interesting, Thanks !!
    GP GeoForum, an alpha phpbb plug-in, does something similar

  2. jake says:

    Thanks for your wonderful write-up! Publishing a map is a bit unpolished, and we’re working fast to make it easier.

    To publish your map on your site, you’ll have to click the ‘Publish’ button and create an iframe via regular HTML.

    Here’s the iframe snippet, note, clicking publish will give you the correct URL. (I inserted *** so the iframe would not insert here!).

    –jake

  3. jake says:

    Well, your comments function stripped my code example, but you can see it here:

    http://platial.typepad.com/news/2006/01/publish_your_ma.html

  4. NRDC Idea Blog » Blog Archive » Mash-ups: Maps and More says:

    [...] out asking NRDC site visitors to display their favorite area for a nature walk? See the write-up at http://www.solutionwatch.com/306/platial-your-collaborative-atlas/. This entry was posted on Thursday, January [...]

  5. s polaski says:

    Palatial-what a great idea,easy to use and kind to the eyes. The team of innovators have gone above and beyond current market trends.

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