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April 2, 2007

Map a List of Locations from a Google Spreadsheet

Google Spreadsheets has an interesting advantage over Microsoft Excel and other desktop applications: you can publish a spreadsheet and always have the latest version on the web without manually republishing it. Because Google Spreadsheets has an API, you can use the spreadsheet as an easy-to-update structured file always available on the web, as an input for web applications.

Pamela Fox wrote a post on Google Maps Blog that details how to create a map from a Google Spreadsheet that contains geographical information.

First you need to build a spreadsheet that has a header and a list of locations described by title, latitude, longitude. There's a nice batch geocoder that uses Google Maps API and can help you build your spreadsheet: copy the generated text in a text file and import it in Google Spreadsheets.

Once you have the spreadsheet, you need to create the connection with Google Maps. There are three ways to do that:

  1. The simple way. This page requires to modify the URL and add the key parameter from the spreadsheet. That's all: no customization, the spreadsheet must have fixed column names, no embedding option.

  2. Almost as simple. This wizard lets you customize the map and embed it in your site.

  3. The hard way. Use Google Maps API and Google Spreadsheets API to build your own application.

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