December 17, 2007

Get your bearings with map extensions for Firefox

Author: Lisa Hoover

Whether you refer to online maps occasionally or on a daily basis, you can add several extensions to your Firefox browser to make Web-based mapping services even more useful.

Mini Map Sidebar is a suite of maps and tools that lives in your browser's sidebar. It offers integration with Google, Yahoo!, and Windows Live Local mapping sites, as well as Google Earth and Drag and drop addresses or enter geographical coordinates manually, choose from three displays options -- map, satellite, and hybrid -- then pan and zoom to get just the view you want.

Do you often visit Web sites embedded with geo.position META tags? Geo is an extension that integrates with and opens most popular mapping sites and also Flickr, OpenStreetMap, and GeoURL.

Maybe you know where you are but aren't sure where your latest order is. The webmaster at has created a Firefox extension that works with UPS, the US Postal Service, FedEx, and DHL to provide information on the location of your package based on its tracking number.

GDirections makes quick work of figuring out how to get from point A to point B. Add your most-referenced locations, such as your work and home addresses, into the tool's address manager. When you want directions to or from a location you come across on the Web, highlight the address, right-click your mouse to choose the starting location of your choice, and let Google or Yahoo! Maps work their magic. Map This does the same thing but supports only Google Maps.

In addition to having a creative name, All Your Maps Are Belong To Us is a pretty handy extension too. Use it to translate URLs -- standard and latitude/longitude-based -- from other mapping sites into Google maps.

Google Maps is great for getting an aerial view of a location, but you can waste precious minutes zooming, panning, and rotating to get a good display size. While Full Map doesn't literally show the full view of a location, it does show much more of the actual map than you can see without it, and also includes keyboard shortcuts.

Sometimes you want to know where to pinpoint a location on a map but don't need a lot of detail or driving directions. Locator is an extension that lets you find a location on Google Maps by simply highlighting the address and right-clicking to select "Locate on Google Map."

Every Monday we highlight a different extension, plugin, or add-on. Write an article of less than 1,000 words telling us about one that you use and how it makes your work easier, along with tips for getting the most out of it. If we publish it, we'll pay you $100. (Send us a query first to be sure we haven't already published a story on your chosen topic recently or have one in hand.)


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