Get yer maps... and fast.

The Google Maps service was unleashed yesterday… holy crap, that rocks. Some notes:

1. Watch how rarely the full page refreshes. I haven’t looked under the hood to see how they do it, but I’m assuming some iframe tags and a lot of Javascript. One thing’s for sure — between this, Google Suggest, and Gmail, Google is pushing the envelope for what can be done in a web UI. 

2. When it shows a pushpin on an address, clicking the pushpin opens a little callout box with a detailed map for the surrounding area. They even draw a shadow behind that callout box on the underlying layer. That’s slick.

3. You can search on all sorts of stuff. In the Search box at the top of the window, I had luck with ddresses, partial addresses, city names, airport codes, zip codes, company names, and so on.

4. You can get at directions from just about anywhere. The little pushpin callouts, the main search results, and so on. Clicking the directions “From here” link in the callout box changes the box to a sort of “sub-search” that lets you provide the “To” address.

5. The searches are context-aware or location-aware. For example, start from the top (new browser window/tab) and search for “Sacramento”. The result is the city in California. Now search for “Kinkos” and you see pushpins for all of their locations in the Sacramento area. Close the tab/window and start fresh… this time, search for “Denver” first and then “Kinkos”. Now you have Kinkos in that area… so each search is aware of the one before it and/or the boundaries you’re currently looking at.

6. I combined it with SlickRun (which I’m addicted to) for a very fast mapping reference. For those that use SlickRun, just use the /?q= querystring, but provide the SlickRun word-replacement macro ($W$). ttp://$W$ is the command. Assuming your MagicWord is “map”, you can then enter “map boulder”, “map 123 main street, denver, co”, or “map sfo”. Way cool.