Map Annotation

From University Map Wiki
Jump to navigationJump to search

This describes a forthcoming feature, expected to be released in February 2013. It is not generally available yet.


This page provides information about interactive annotation of the University Map. If you are interested in scripting or programming overlays from other data sets, see the UCamGeoJSON API.

Note: if all you want to do is create a link to show your department etc on the map, you don't need to create any annotation. Just use the link shown in your browser address bar when you are looking at the full results for the institution. For example: . This also means if you move, the link will show up-to-date information without any changes.

Also if you only want a single pin on the map, you can do this directly from the map: click where you want it and choose the pin icon. Then copy the URL from the browser address bar.

This page deals with more substantial annotations.


It is useful to be able to customize the University Map. This might be for

  • something ephemeral, like emailing directions or highlighting a meeting place to someone;
  • something semi-permanent such as locations of a series of events around the University (for example, consider the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival, or Science Week);
  • something permanent, such as more detail or special interest information (for example, consider disability information, college staircase locations, college meeting rooms, or the Granta Backbone Network).


This is achieved by referencing in the map URL a set of annotations stored at a another URL somewhere on the internet. This could be

  • temporary storage provided by the map server itself,
  • your personal University web pages,
  • a departmental website,
  • a shared Dropbox file (or other cloud service)
  • anywhere, really, subject to certain security limitations

This URL is given in the fragment part of the map URL, that is, the bit after a hash sign '#', like this


The link provides a set of data in UCamGeoJSON format. This can be generated programatically where you have a geographically-minded data set to display, but for more casual use interactive Map Annotation, in effect to draw on top of the map and then save your annotations for other people to refer to.

Getting started

Annotate Map on the More link of the main map takes you to the map annotation page. This provides a web app where you can draw onto the map and then save the drawing for other people to see, by providing a link on a web page or sending them a link by email, and so on.

A set of annotations comprises one or more features, which are independent from each other, and layered so that if they overlap one will draw on top of another. You can draw three different kinds of feature: points (to which images and text can be attached), lines and areas.

Points represent real geographical locations, so as you zoom out they get close together visually. However, images and text applied to a point are fixed size: they do not scale up and down as the map is scaled, so they may overlap at larger scales.

Adding points, lines and areas

If you make a mistake at any time, you can use the Undo button (or the CTRL+Z key) to reverse your change.

Click on the map to make a point. This is shown with a small red mark called a handle. When you have more than one handle, only one can be red, indicating that it is selected, that is, identifying the point and feature to which changes will be made. The others are green. Select a handle by clicking on it. Clicking on the already selected handle will deselect it.

Having made a point, you can now either can add a second point to start drawing a line, or apply text and/or an image to the single point.

To help you see where a line will go, a putative 'rubber band' line is connected from the selected point. This will go away if you add an image or text, but if it bothers you, press the ESC key to explicitly turn off line formation.

Once a single point is selected (which it will be immediately after you have made one), the left hand side panel changes to offer a form where you can add images, text, colour, borders etc. to the point. Details below.

If instead you make a line the panel changes to offer properties for the line, such as width and colour. Click again to add further points to the line. You can also extend an existing line from either end by clicking on the first or last point.

Once you have at least three points, you can form a closed area by clicking on the first point. If you cancel the rubber-band line with ESC, clicking the first point will just select it, and therefore offer to extend it from the other end.

Changing existing features

The menus provide means to change existing features. Naturally, the Features menu offers things you can do to features as a whole, and the Points menu things you can do to points.