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Maps Engine Lite - Tutorial

Maps Engine Lite is a free tool from Google that allows you to easily create custom maps to share and publish on the web.

Similarities with Fusion Tables:

- All you need is a browser
- No programing or coding experience needed
- Free. All you need is a gmail account
- You can import: CSV files, Excel files, Google spreadsheets
- Both export to KML (with option of network link)
- Both can be shared via a link
- Both can be embedded on a website
- Both have an an array of icons available to choose

Main Advantages with regards to Fusion Tables:

- You can add up to three layers in the same map
- You can add points, lines or polygons directly into the map
- You can add my maps as a layer
- Your collaborators can directly edit the map, instead of having to modify the table
- Editing fields and locations much easier

Main Disadvantages with regards to Fusion Tables:

- It's only a map that you can make. It is not possible to make interactive graphics
- Works with very small datasets. You cannot add datasets that have over 100 rows
- Editing fields and locations much easier - can lead to accidental changes on the table and map
- Info windows in Lite do not support HTML code, so there is not much room for customization (i.e. adding photos, videos, etc)

Getting Started in Maps Engine Lite

Go to the Maps Engine Lite Link: https://mapsengine.google.com/map/ and make sure you are logged in with your Google Account.

In the welcoming window, select  New Map. This will open a new map in Maps Engine Lite.

Change the title by clicking the Untitled text and type Movement of people across countries. Click Save.

Add your data as a new layer to your map by clicking the import command (add the same table we have used in the Fusion Tables tutorial). If you don't have it available, you can download a copy here.

The first window asks you to choose the column to position your placemarks (point data). Choose country. Click Continue.

The second window asks you to choose a column for the title of each placemark. Check the box next to net migration thousands 2012. Click Finish

A map appears with a placemark in the location for each country. Notice there are 15 rows that have not been placed. You can check later for these errors.

Click the Data view.
A table view of your data will appear. Scroll down through the records. Notice that each record you scroll through in your table will get highlighted in the map.

You can edit directly your records in the data view. For example, change "Egypt, Arab Rep." to simply Egypt. You will notice your record gets automatically placed in Egypt.

In the map view, zoom into the United States. Notice that Georgia was placed in the State of Georgia instead the country of Georgia.

Move your mouse on top of the marker for Georgia. Notice that the cursor changes from an open hand to a pointing index finger. Click and drag your mouse to the Eastern border of the Black Sea in Europe to move the placemark to the country of Georgia.


Changing the Info Window

Click on any marker in your map and you notice the pop-up window. It reads your table and associates the record in that table for each country.

Notice the main title for the window is a number. We want to change this to the country name.

To do this, click the pencil button as shown in the figure on the left.

Next to the number at the top there is a drop-down arrow.

Click on this arrow and select Country as the column you want to title each info window.

Notice that Country gets removed from the list of attributes below.

Click Save.

Click any other country to see that this change is global for your entire data set.

Styling your map

To change the appearance of your map, you will focus on changing the style of the markers based on an attribute (or column) in your dataset. Click the Style button in the main info window for your map as shown below:

Change the Uniform style to one that uses Refugees by country of origin by selecting that column in the drop-down menu.

Notice how each country marker has a color based on the number of refugees in that country.

Change the Categories classification to Ranges. Leave 4 classes and select a color range that you see fitting for your data.

Notice how Maps Engine Lite reads the range of values for refugees and divides it into four categories.

If you scroll over each category on the legend, you will see the countries in that category highlighted in the map with white circles around each placemark.


You can label each marker according to an attribute (or column) in your data. Click the Labels button in the main info window.

Click the button that says No labels and select Country. Take a look at the results. Maps Engine automatically renders the labels for each placemark finding optimal configuration for each country.

Since this information is not really necessary for this map, undo your change by selecting No labels again.

Changing the base map

You can choose a base map that best fits the content and purpose of your data. In this case, we are looking for a background that will offer maximum contrast with our data.

In the main window, click the drop-down arrow on the bottom-right corner.

Choose a Dark Landmass background and your map is complete!

You can add your own points, lines and polygons to your map by selecting the corresponding button on the main toolbar.

You can also edit the attributes for each layer in the map window or the Data view.

Most importantly, you can add other layers in your map to make it more comprehensive and rich in information, by pressing the Add layer button.

Sharing your map

One of the main advantages of Maps Engine Lite is that you can share your map with others and have collaborators across the world adding data or layers to your map.

To do this, click the Share button on the top-right corner.

Change your settings from Private to Anyone with the Link:

    - If you want people to just view your map, but not edit, leave the default Access to Can view.

    - If you want people around the world to be able to collaborate in your map, change the Access to Can edit.

    - If you want just a few collaborators to view or edit your map, change the sharing settings to Private and grant them explicit permission.

Click Save after you enter your selection.

Copy the Link to share and email it to your colleagues. For example, if I want to share my map, I will email the following link to my colleagues:

Embedding your map

If you want to embed your map as an interactive element in your website, click on the folder button below your map's name.

A drop-down window appears. Select Embed on my site.

Copy the HTML code and paste it in your own website or blog (make sure your website is in HTML editing mode).

Your map should look similar to this one:

Congratulations on creating your first Map with Google Maps Engine Lite!

Resources for Maps Engine Lite:

Introduction to Maps Engine Lite
Great tutorial
Comparison chart between Maps Engine Lite and Pro

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  52k v. 1 Oct 28, 2013, 2:36 PM Patricia Carbajales