Online mapping is the compilation and publication of Web sites that provide exhaustive graphical and text information in the form of maps and databases. Online mapping services are used for tasks such as planning trips, determining geographical positions, finding landmarks and businesses, obtaining addresses and phone numbers, and plotting storm tracks.
The first well-known online mapping service was MapQuest. It was launched in 1996 and is still popular. Since then, several other Internet companies, including Google and Yahoo , have come online with mapping services. In addition to interactive maps with zooming and recentering functions (these are universal), some services offer topographical maps, satellite images, weather and climate maps, demographic maps, and traffic information. The most sophisticated sites work with the Global Positioning System ( GPS ) to provide the wireless-equipped mobile user with moment-to-moment position data, as well as street-by-street directions to help the user get from the current location to a specific destination.
Google Maps and similar services have become very popular in mash-up applications. One such mash-up, HousingMaps, is a mash-up of Google Maps and Craigslist rental ads that displays geographical information for rental properties.