Showing maps using YOS amMap
Adding a map to your site may be a necessity in some cases. For example, you want to show the population of countries, or you want to show a world map to your students for teaching geography. Flash maps are always interesting as you can interact with them and can view them as you like. amMap provides tools for showing Flash maps. The amMap tool is ported as a Joomla! component by yOpensource, and the component is released with the name YOS amMap. This component has two versions—free and commercial. The commercial or pro version has some advanced features that are not available in the free version.
The YOS amMap component, together with its module, allows you to display a map of the world, a region, or a country. You can choose the map to be displayed, which areas or countries are to be highlighted, and the way in which the viewers can control the map. Generally, maps displayed through the YOS amMap component can be zoomed, centered, or scrolled to left, right, top, or bottom. You can also specify a color in which a region or a country should be displayed.
Installing and configuring YOS amMap
To use YOS amMap with your Joomla! website, you must first download it from http://yopensource.com/en/component/remository/?func=fileinfo&id=3. After downloading and extracting the compressed package, you get the component and module packages. Install the component and module from the Extensions | Install/Uninstall screen.
Once installed, you can administer the YOS amMap component from Components | YOS amMap. This shows the YOS amMap Control Panel, as shown in the following screenshot:
YOS amMap Control Panel displays several icons through which you can configure and publish maps. The first thing you should do is to configure the global settings for amMap. In order to do this, click on the Parameters icon in the toolbar. Doing so brings up the dialog box, as shown in the following screenshot:
In the Global Configuration section, you can enter a license key if you have purchased the commercial or the pro version of this component. For the free version, this is not needed. In this section, you can also configure the legal extensions of files that can be uploaded through this component, the maximum file size for uploads, the legal image extensions, and the allowed MIME types of all uploads. You can also specify whether the Flash uploader will be used or not. Once you have configured these fields, click on the Save button and return to YOS amMap Control Panel.
Adding map files
You can see the list of available maps by clicking on the Maps icon on the YOS amMap Control Panel screen or by clicking on Components | amMap | Maps. This shows the Maps Manager screen, as shown in the next screenshot.
As you can see, the Maps Manager screen displays the list of available maps. By default, you find the world.swf, continents.swf, and world_with_antartica.swf map files. You will find some extra maps with the amMap bundle. You can also download the original amMap package from http://www.ammap.com/download. After downloading the ZIP package, extract it, and you will find many maps in the maps subfolder. Any map from this folder can be uploaded to the Joomla! site from the Maps Manager screen.
Creating a map
There are several steps for creating a map using YOS amMap. First we need to upload the package for the map. For example, if we want to display the map of the United States of America, then we need to upload the map template, the map data file, and the map settings file for the United States of America. To do this first upload the map template from the Maps Manager screen. You will find the map template for USA in the ammap/maps folder. Then we need to upload the data and the settings files. For doing so, click on the Upload link on the YOS amMap Control Panel screen. Then, in the Upload amMap screen, which is shown in the next screenshot, type the map’s title (United States) in the Title field. Before clicking on the Browse button besides the Package File field, you first add the ammap_data.xml and the ammap_settings.xml files to a single ZIP file, unitedstates.zip. Now, click on the Browse button, and select this unitedstates.zip file. Then click on the Upload File & Install button.
Once uploaded successfully, you see this map listed in the YOS amMap Manager screen, as shown in the next screenshot. You get this screen by clicking on the amMaps link on the toolbar.
As you can see, the map that we have added is now listed in the YOS amMap Manager screen. However, the map is yet in an unpublished state, and we need to configure the map before publishing it. We need to configure its data and settings files, which are discussed in the following sections.
Map data file
The different regions of a map are identified by the map data file. This is an XML file and it defines the areas to be displayed on the map. The typical structure of a map data file can be understood by examining ammap_data.xml. The file has many comments that explain its structure. This file looks like as follows:
This code is a stripped-down version of the default ammap_data.xml file. Let us examine its structure and try to understand the meaning of each markup:
- : You define the map’s structure using this markup. First, by using the map_file attribute, we declare the map file that should be used to display this map. This markup has some other attributes through which we declare the top and the left offset in longitude and latitude. We can also specify the zooming level using the zoom_x, zoom_y, and zoom attributes.
: Areas are the regions or countries on a map. These are defined in the map. We only need to define the areas that we want to display. For example, in the sample, we have defined eight countries to be displayed and one straight line. Each area element has several attributes, among which you need to mention mc_name and title. You specify the area’s name in mc_name, which is predefined in the map template. The title element will be displayed as the title of that map area. For example, means the areas marked as BD in the map template will be displayed with the title Bangladesh. In order to specify the mc_name element, you need to follow the map template designer’s instructions. : Movies are some extra clips that can be displayed as a separate layer on the map. For example, to display the capital of each country, a movie clip could be displayed in the specified latitude and longitude. You can also display some other animations or text using a movie definition. : The markup contains the text to be displayed on the map. You can add any text on a map by defining a label element.
To view and edit the map data file, ammap_data.xml, click on the map name on the YOS amMap Manager screen. This opens-up the amMap: [Edit] screen, as shown in the following screenshot:
The amMap: [Edit] screen displays several configurations for the map. From the Details section you can change the map name, publish the map, and enable security. From the Design section you can view and edit the data and the settings files. Clicking on Data will show the data file. You can edit the data file from the online editor. As we want to display the map of USA, we will make the following changes on this screen:
- Select usa.swf in the Maps list.
- Change the data file as follows:
As you can see, we have defined regions (states) on the map of USA, and towards the end of the file, we have added a label for the map.
- Select Yes for the Published field in the Details section.
When you are done making these changes click on the Save button to save these changes. Now we will look into the map settings file.
Map data files for countries are available with the amMap package. Thus, if you download amMap 2.5.1, you will get the map settings files for different countries. For example, the map data file for USA will be in the amMap_2.5.1/examples/_countries/usa folder.