More on Google Maps in WordPress

A quick follow up on the post a couple of months ago about my quest to find a simple way of embedding Google Maps in WordPress blogs. Just to recap, the main issue I had was finding a way of embedding custom maps.

While I still have yet to find a solution to self-hosted WordPress blogs like this one, there is a good solution for anyone who has a blog hosted at For those of you that don’t know, this is a site that looks after thousands of WordPress blogs for free. They run their own specific version of WordPress – you can’t get at the PHP code or install your own plugins. But it’s a great way to host sites at little or no cost. I run a couple of community sites hosted there, both for the Round Table organisation – see Long Eaton Round Table and also the Area 14 sites.

That version of WordPress provides a tag – “googlemap” – that can take any Google Map reference including custom maps and embed them in the page properly. It works really well – for an example, see the About page on my Area 14 site. Instructions for using the tags can be found here.

Now all we need is the same thing on the regular version of WordPress, and I’ll be a happy bloke.

Google maps in WordPress

I have been creating my own Google maps a lot recently, largely in support of an upcoming attempt at the 3 Peaks 24 hour challenge – hiking up the three highest mountains in the UK all in 24 hours. I’ve got various maps for the three hiking trails, plus a few put together to help plan training walks.

I’ve been scratching around for a while experimenting with various ways of sharing these maps, and embedding within a WordPress blog seems a good thing to do.
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My photos in Google Earth

My photos in Google Maps

A few weeks ago I wrote about using Panoramio to publish and view images from around the world in Google Earth and Google Maps. At the time I posted just a single beach scene from Hamilton Island in Australia as a test image and noted that it takes a while for these images to appear to any user of Google Earth. At long last these have now appeared!

After I wrote the article I added a few more images I had lying around. After a few weeks, they started being flagged by the Panoramio reviewers as having been accepted by Google Earth.

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Playtime with Google Maps and GPS

I’ve been dabbling with Google Maps recently as I want to download some GPS data from my PDA to visualise and analyse journeys that I have made. I also think Google Maps and its 3D sibling Google Earth are the absolute dogs doodads of applications and so any excuse to play with these was welcome.

I started with a .GPS file that was generated automatically by Copilot, which is the in-car satellite navigation software that I use. It’s pretty good, but like all Satnav systems you need to be aware of its foibles to get the best out of it. Never, ever, simply follow the instructions!

The GPS track was a record of my travels on Monday 25th June as I tried to get into work in Sheffield as it was getting hit by freak floods. Getting in was OK(ish), but took a long time. Getting home again was a bit more interesting as I kept trying to avoid all the bad traffic.

Anyway, since I was being forced to turn around and try new routes to avoid flooded roads, jams etc, I wanted to see on my PC where I had been. What I did not know was a quick and easy way to do it.

Copilot has a PC hosted planning application, but that won’t take the GPS tracks that the PDA version generates (sigh….). Ideally I wanted to put the tracks into Google Earth to look at in glorious 3D, but I currently only have the free version that does not allow GPS tracks to be imported.

A quick webhunt brought up GPS Visualizer. This provides a free service that allows me to upload the GPS file, and it generates a Google Map with a vector overlay of the results. Even better, the site contains instructions on hosting the resulting map on your own website.

So I had a go at this. The HTML pathway was a huge faff, to be honest, as I was rather foolishly trying to use Frontpage. The problem was that it was trying to be too smart on the Cut and Paste operation, which screwed HTML tags over. In the end, a quick path was to:

  1. View GPS Visualizer page source
  2. Save source to local HTML file on disk
  3. Open HTML with an editor. Even Frontpage could manage this bit!
  4. Locate the Google API key, and replace it with my own (see below).
  5. Set page titles, modify the default 600×600 window
  6. Upload to my website
  7. The resulting page can be seen here.

    If you want to do this yourself you’ll need a Google API key, which you can get from here