Google Maps WordPress Plugin – More Than Just Pretty Maps

Auto-build Maps From Custom Fields

Where the Google Maps plugin starts to stretch its legs is away from the basic build and insert.

The ability to automatically insert a map based on the contents of a custom field is a powerful and useful feature. The custom field is identified in the global settings along with whether the data is a set of co-ordinates (longitude and latitude) or an address.

Screenshot of the Custom Fields configuration panel
Simply register a custom field to automatically add maps to posts, pages and custom post types

Once set up, a map will be created for every post that has the custom field populated – whether you display the map and where is up to you. Again, it is quite possible to just associate the map with the post and then display it in a widget rather than in the post content itself. The choice is yours.

This is invaluable for any listing on your site that may include a location such as a business directory, an event listing or a sporting fixture. Most likely built on a custom post type, you just need to tell the Google Maps plugin the custom field that contains the address and maps will be automatically added to the post entry or sidebar.

A Highly Flexible Widget

The plugin provides a highly flexible widget for displaying maps in your theme’s widgetized areas such as sidebars.

Whilst it is possible to “hardcode” the map to be displayed, the real flexibility comes in the ability to display:

  • only maps associated with the current post
  • maps that are associated to any post
  • all maps
  • a random map
  • or maps associated with any post that has been tagged with a specified keyword

The widget map display can be customized from hiding the marker list to combining multiple maps into a single map.

User Check-ins

For those of you looking at mobile web apps, the User Check-In feature will definitely be of interest.

Embed a shortcode on a post and when a user visits the post it will attempt to determine their location (after asking permission to do so) which will be recorded.

Screenshot of the dialog to ask permission for submitting the user's location
Easily add user checkin to your website – permission-based of course

It’s possible to configure the plugin to allow guests to check-in or to restrict it to logged-in users only. The shortcode can also display a map with all the user check-ins marked.

An easy pathway to generating community through geotagging.

Over 20 Add-Ons To Further Extend The Feature-List

The User Check-in is the latest addition to the list of over 20 add-ons for the Google Maps plugin that can be activated as and when you need them including:

  • BuddyPress Group Maps – allows BuddyPress groups to add location maps
  • Nearby Facebook Friends – shows a list of nearby facebook friends
  • Featured Image As Map Marker – experimental but uses the posts featured image as a map marker icon
  • Geotag My Activities – allows your users to add location to their BuddyPress activity updates
  • Geotag My Posts – add location to your posts, pages and custom post types
  • Where Am I? – Show a map to your visitor based on their current location

More Than Just Inserting Pretty Maps

Far from being just a way to insert a Google map into your WordPress post, the Google Maps plugin adds a mapping and geo-location to deliver a stable of location features that has a massive variety of potential uses.

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