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  1. #1
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    Question An interactive map with purchasing options

    I am a graphic artist working for a small family business and wearer of too many hats. I can design/build web sites in Dreamweaver and have average or above capabilities there but interaction with databases is now becoming a priority. I want to get some evening classes to help our family business in this area but not sure what I need to learn... Here's what I want to do:

    We have a huge swap meet and car show several times a year that we sell vendor spaces and process their location on a printed wall map by hand. Each space is a rectangle on a overhead drawing of a fairgrounds. What I would like to do is have the ability to have this map online identifying filled and available spaces in real time? It would also be preferred if we could allow a vendor to click on the open space in the location they want and purchase the space without having to call us during our business hours.

    I guess in actuality it's a 2-part question: 1) Is it possible to have a real-time map like attached that shows space availability 2) Can the same technology allow customers to select and purchase their own space online and have the map automatically update after their purchase?

    I would think this is possible but have no idea where to start, or what to learn, to make this feature a possibility. Then again it could be so involved that it's just not worth it and we should keep using the large wall map? ;-)

    I know I am probably in over my head but thought I would look into the possibilities. Thank you for your time.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails An interactive map with purchasing options-map.jpg  

  • #2
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    The short answer is, all that you want to do can be done online with or without an image map for the spaces people can purchase online.

    But in reality, it's not a quick and simple application to set up.

    You would need to

    1) design a database model representing the data you will need to store. The db is essentially the foundations of the application and all the other coding/functionality "sits" on top of the db.

    2) you will also need to set up an online payment facility. I use Paypal's Website Payments Standard, which is not difficult to integrate into your application if you have at least a sound understanding of html as there is some hand coding involved. If you want to integrate some of their back-end functionality as well you would need a solid understanding of one of the mainstream server side languages.

    In summary, imo it's not too diifficult a project for anyone with a good grasp of html/css/javascript and database connectivity with a server side language, but it's definitely very unlikely one could put it all together if relying mainly on bits and pieces of code from various online sources like web dev. forums etc.

  • #3
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    As bullant said, yes all this is possible, but...

    If you've never worked with server-side languages or databases or javascript, I think I might recommend you look into hiring someone to at least create the foundations of what you would need. The database is the first thing you'd need and to me entails the most work upfront.

    Otherwise, I'd say your looking at about a 6 month learning curve for yourself.

    Then again I guess that depends on how quickly you learn and how much knowledge and coding skills you actually do have currently.
    Last edited by teedoff; 04-04-2011 at 11:02 PM.
    Teed

  • #4
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    Yes, I am limited on my coding skills, but have always been a quick learner, so your information is what I thought but needed to hear it from the experts. While I know I am capable of doing something like this I seriously doubt I will pursue it unless I can work in this area every day and not have to know all of the other softwares I currently try to maintain.

    As an example I work as a graphic artist in Illustrator, Photoshop, Coreldraw, Flash & Fireworks animations, CNC cutting software, Dreamweaver, Cinema 4D, Video production and printing/cutting vinyl for car wraps and signs. Needless to say I am reluctant to learn another specialty skill I only use every 3-4 months because I will waste a lot of time retraining myself for the things I forget. I already feel maxed-out maintaining what I currently know so hearing your recommendations makes me feel better about not pursuing it for myself. (At least until I can give up some of the other responsibilities I currently have)

    Thank you for your help and you never know... I may dabble in it over the next several years? ;-)

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    Technically, you could use a Google Map Mashup like this service:
    http://www.maplib.net/

    It's not free though. The mashup service comes with a fee.

    =================

    So, I'm thinking about the possibility of using Google Maps alone ...

    EDIT: I found it ... it's the Springfield Ohio Antique Show.
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...07703&t=k&z=18

    And if you zoom in, you can actually see the lines painted on the roads and grass ... interesting.

    I'm thinking of maybe you using Google Markers, but there
    will be a lot of them, and it would take a while to program
    it all ... but it's possible.

    Each car spot would have it's own GPS coordinate.
    Once all 3000 spots were programmed into the database,
    it would never have to be done again. The initial data entry
    would be really extreme though. Anyone else using the
    property for another show could actually pay you to use
    your GPS database (as you would own it).




    .
    Last edited by mlseim; 04-06-2011 at 02:09 AM.

  • #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlseim View Post
    Technically, you could use a Google Map Mashup like this service:
    http://www.maplib.net/

    It's not free though. The mashup service comes with a fee.

    =================

    So, I'm thinking about the possibility of using Google Maps alone ...

    EDIT: I found it ... it's the Springfield Ohio Antique Show.
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...07703&t=k&z=18

    And if you zoom in, you can actually see the lines painted on the roads and grass ... interesting.

    I'm thinking of maybe you using Google Markers, but there
    will be a lot of them, and it would take a while to program
    it all ... but it's possible.

    Each car spot would have it's own GPS coordinate.
    Once all 3000 spots were programmed into the database,
    it would never have to be done again. The initial data entry
    would be really extreme though. Anyone else using the
    property for another show could actually pay you to use
    your GPS database (as you would own it).




    .
    I was thinking it wouldn't be as complicated as you're talking about. I think he could in theory have a map representation of the "lots" and hotlink each lot with an ID or name that corresponds to the same data in his tables. Once a "lot" was clicked on, the id/name could be passed to a form and the vendors info filled in and saved to the database. Sounds simple enough, but as the OP stated, he's limited in time and is already stretched out pretty thin.

    Again, the work lies in the database foundation and creation.
    Teed

  • #7
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    I was considering that the user might want to actually see where his/her car would be shown.
    Only the "open" spots would have a marker (or link). The user clicks on a marker,
    and also there is a list of markers in a column, just as you mentioned. The locations
    could be taken from the database and displayed as a map, or as a list ... however
    they want to do it. Again, we both say it's the actual database that will take tons
    of time to construct.

    If they spent this year building the database (and using the paper map for this year's show),
    they would have the database ready for next year.

    I already have a way to drag a marker on a map and submit the GPS to a database.
    It's just a tedious job, because they have a few thousand locations.


    .

  • #8
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    If they spent this year building the database (and using the paper map for this year's show),
    they would have the database ready for next year.
    Yeah I agree, but as the OP has said, he's stretched pretty thin already and is thinking twice about investing his own time into a project like this.

    But as we all can see, there are numerous ways this could be done on the front end, but it all comes down to the database.
    Teed


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