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View Full Version : Best way to make a geographical search tool?



sleidia
01-19-2009, 01:08 AM
Hello,

I have to design a search form that will have to display a listing of properties depending on their location ( country, region and city ).

The main issue is the fact that the site will be in several languages which means that all the locations will have to be translated too.

To me, it looks like an impossible task to define in advance all the countries, regions and cities in all these languages.

First question :
Do you think such a library with all the worldwide cities already exists so that I could create an autocomplete field a la www.booking.com within minutes?
I see that cities are all translated in their script.
(ex: Vienna becomes Wien or Vienne depending on what you type).

Second question :
Do you think it would be a good idea to let properties publishers enter the location names themselves in the database? I mean, this would move all the work on their side but it would make it difficult to have an efficient search function since they would propably type the same city with different spellings or worse, with spelling mistakes.

Third question :
I thought that maybe I should try to build a mapplet ( http://code.google.com/apis/maps/documentation/mapplets/basics.html#GLatLng ) that would let users choose an area on a map so that the search form use the coordinates of the map boundaries in order to find stored coordinates that are inside.
Do you think it is feasible? The good thing with that option is that we get rid of the location names in multiple languages/spellings. We only use coordinates.

So, what should I do?

Many many thanks to the ones who will provide me with some helpful advice.

Cheers

oesxyl
01-19-2009, 02:08 AM
explore this:

http://www.geonames.org/

best regards

itsallkizza
01-19-2009, 06:29 AM
Your third idea is most bulletproof. I've had some experience with the Google Maps API and it's a lot faster than you might think. Using graphical representations of the desired location breaks all language barriers and simplifies, if not solves, your original problem.

sleidia
01-19-2009, 11:46 AM
Thanks Oesxyl,

I've been playing around with it on http://www.geonames.org/export/ajax-postalcode-autocomplete.html and I found it painfully slow. I don't know if it comes from a bad JS script (there is an error showing in the error console) or if is the whole thing ... well I'm not impressed ... or maybe I failed to see the real potential? The script used on www.booking.com is really fast compared to the one on geonames.


explore this:

http://www.geonames.org/

best regards

sleidia
01-19-2009, 12:01 PM
Thanks a lot itsallkizza,

Since you seem to have some experience with Google Maps, here are a couple of questions :

- do you think I should use the Google API or Mapplets?
- do you know a Google application that nearly does the same thing I want to achieve?

Thanks again :)


Your third idea is most bulletproof. I've had some experience with the Google Maps API and it's a lot faster than you might think. Using graphical representations of the desired location breaks all language barriers and simplifies, if not solves, your original problem.

itsallkizza
01-20-2009, 12:33 AM
Hm... I've never seen Google Mapplets before. Looks pretty cool.

Because I don't have any experience with Mapplets (just now watched their intro) and I'm not you (and so I don't know the ins and outs of your program) I can't say which route to take, but it seems from first-glance that you'd be better off with the plain old Google Maps API - it's super customizable and so far I don't see the need (for you) to use any of the extra Mapplets features.

sleidia
01-20-2009, 05:38 AM
Well, I think that, finally, I'll give up on the GoogleMap idea because they say on their FAQ that Opera isn't supported :(

itsallkizza
01-20-2009, 06:24 AM
i'm sure you can make the features you need work in Opera, I wouldn't give up just yet (i'm pretty sure the stuff I worked on functioned as expected in Opera 6).

even if it doesnt, the number of people who use opera as their primary web browser is miniscule. and remember, the people who use third party browsers tend to be more technically literate (ie a switch to a new browser is usually inspired by some grievance or another), which means if your site didn't work in their browser, they'd probably just pop open IE, FF or Safari.



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