Working With Maps Working With Maps

Working With Maps

Ismaen Aboubakare Ismaen Aboubakare

The maps control provides the ability to integrate and display a map within Airkit, building out applications that leverage addresses and a user's location. For example, the maps control is useful for building out experiences that display a map for a specific location, finding nearby businesses, or to pinpoint a current user's location. This article will walk through the following:

Display a map of a single location

The map control can be used to display a single location in an application. This is great for showing users where a specific location is on a map, such as a home or business location. This section will walk through how to add a map to an application and show a single location that is marked, specifically the Chase Center in San Francisco, CA. 

First, within a web page, add the maps control. By default, the maps control will display a view of Palo Alto. 

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With the map control selected in the tree, go to the inspector and change both the Center property and the Markers property to the List of objects below. The Center property expects a single object containing the latitude and longitude properties like so:

{
"latitude":37.7680466,
"longitude":-122.387715
}


The Markers property expects a List of Objects, like so:

[{
"latitude":37.7680466,
"longitude":-122.387715
}]


The Center property will center the map around the location object that is passed. The Markers will place the 'teardrop' markers at the locations of the List of Objects passed. 

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For more information on all of the map control properties, see Map Web Control. Also, to display a location indicator for the current user's location, see Working with the Users Current Location.

Display multiple locations on a map

The maps control also supports showing multiple locations within the control. Displaying multiple locations is useful for showing nearby points of interests or even loading multiple locations into a map from AirData. This section will walk through how to build out both of those experiences within an application.

Searching for nearby points of interest

Searching for nearby points of interest can be used within a journey to look for nearby restaurants, or locate the nearest car repair shop. This example will walk through how to build out a search experience to find nearby gas stations. 

In the web page of the application, add a Place Search control and a Map control. The place search control will be where users can type and search for what kind of gas stations are nearby, and the Map control is used to display the locations of those gas stations.

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Then create a 'Place' app object in AirData, which is a pre-defined location object that includes the following properties:

  • latitude
  • longitude
  • name
  • identifier
  • formatted_address
  • icon

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To do this, go to Data Builder, then click on the '+' icon and click on 'Add Place'. For this example, rename the Place object to 'Place'. Then save the application. 

After saving the application, go the web page in Activity Builder and add the following variables with the associated types:

  • location: Place
  • nearby_poi: List of Places

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Then, on the Place Search Input control, bind the location variable to the location property, placeType to "gas_station", nearby_poi to searchResults, change the searchType to 'nearby', and rankBy to 'distance'. By binding the location variable to the location property, allows the control to prefer results in the specified area that is passed by the location variable. Also by binding nearby_poi to searchResults, allows the results to be surfaced as an array/list. Lastly, by adding the string "gas_station" to placeType, this will return that particular type of place. For additional information on place types, see the Places API by Google. 

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Under the Actions tab on the Place Search Input control, use the Set Variable action to set nearby_poi to event.value.  
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After finishing configuring the Place Search Input, click on the Map control and go to the General tab in the inspector. In the Markers property, add nearby_poi. In the center property, add location

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Note: To identify the current location that the map is using to find nearby gas stations, check the showIndicator property.
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After saving the application, go to App preview to test out your app. The map will automatically add markers to the nearby gas stations based on your location. The search input box can be used to refine a specific gas station brand, or you can hide the place search control from view to just show the nearby gas stations in a specified radius without allowing the user to alter it. If the application was purely used for searching across any points of interest, the placeType property can be left blank on the place search input control. 

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Loading locations from AirData

The map control can also be used to mark locations that are stored in AirData or other external systems. This example will walk through how to load locations from AirData and mark those locations on a map. 

In order to load locations from AirData to a map, there has to be an App object to store the data, as well as some location data points. The data points that will be used are nearby parks relative to a specific location in Palo Alto. 

First, go to AirData and create a Place object and name it 'Parks'. This is where the locations to mark on the map will be stored.

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Next, add some locations to the Parks app object. In order for the maps control to mark locations, it requires the latitude and longitude of the location. This can either be done manually or through a Data Flow.

Adding locations to AirData through a DataFlow

To add locations through a Data Flow, create a Data Flow, name it 'Insert Parks' and add an input of the type 'List of Parks'. Name the input variable to 'parks'.

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Below is some sample park data that will be inserted into the Parks App Object. Copy and paste the sample data into the parks input variable created in the previous step.

[
{
"latitude": 37.42967099999999,
"longitude": -122.1410736,
"formattedAddress": "Palo Alto",
"identifier": "",
"name": "Jerry Bowden Park",
"icon": "https://maps.gstatic.com/mapfiles/place_api/icons/v1/png_71/park-71.png"
},
{
"latitude": 37.42578719999999,
"longitude": -122.1427593,
"formattedAddress": "202 Ash Street, Palo Alto",
"identifier": "",
"name": "Sarah Wallis Park",
"icon": "https://maps.gstatic.com/mapfiles/place_api/icons/v1/png_71/park-71.png"
},
{
"latitude": 37.431507,
"longitude": -122.147651,
"formattedAddress": "1899 Park Boulevard, Palo Alto",
"identifier": "",
"name": "Peers Park",
"icon": "https://maps.gstatic.com/mapfiles/place_api/icons/v1/png_71/park-71.png"
}
]
 
Then add an AirData Data Operation, select the 'Parks' App Object, and select the INSERT type. Lastly add the parks input variable as the object to insert. The Data operation should look like below:
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Click on the 'play' icon, which should insert the three parks into the Park app object. Now there is data to retrieve from the application. 

Retrieving Parks to Display on the Map

Now that there is data in the Parks App object, it can be passed to the Maps control using a Data Flow.  The Data Flow will simply be a query to the Parks App object, which will then pass the list of parks as the output of the Data Flow. 

First, add a Data Flow in Connection builder, name it 'Retrieve Parks' and add an AirData Operation. Select the Parks App Object and choose the type 'Query'.

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Then, add a Transform data operation and use: 

objectService.results

for the transform expression. This will parse out only the results from the query, which is needed to mark locations on the map. Also, change the variable Type to 'List of Parks'.

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Lastly, pass the transform variable as the return value at the end of the Data Flow. 

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Displaying Locations on the Map

Now that the application has a Data Flow configured to retrieve parks from AirData, the parks can be passed to the maps control. For this example, the Data Flow will run on the Card Updated event, but the parks can be retrieved through any other events or actions using the Data Flow. First, add a variable on the web page with the type 'List of Parks' and name the variable parks.

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Then click on the Actions tab on the web page, and under the Card Updated event, add a 'Run Data Flow' action. Select the Data Flow created in the previous step to retrieve parks and bind the output to the parks variable. 

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After configuring the Data Flow, add a Map control to the web page. With the map control selected, go to the inspector under the General tab, and enter in the following for their respective properties:

  • markers: parks
  • center: 
{
"latitude":37.4404217,
"longitude":-122.1476691
}

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This will pass in the list of parks and mark them on the map as well as hardcode the center of the map to be at that specific location. As an optional step, check the showIndicator property to make the indicator visible. After configuring the map control properties, go to App Preview and see the three marked parks on the map.

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Further Reading

The map control is extremely useful to provide location capabilities within a journey. It can be used in tandem with the place search input to create more functional experiences such as searching for a location to be picked up after calling a towing agency, or using maps to display data on a delivery. For additional topics to dive deeper see:

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