Adrienne Leverette is a principal at Fat Pencil Studio.
I recently stumbled upon a new, easy way to make simple interactive maps courtesy of (who else?) Google. It's an online interface called Maps Engine Lite (cousin of the more robust Maps Engine) that currently exists in beta version. You can create up to three layers of map data of 100 data points each, choose place marker styles, include multi-field descriptions for each, draw lines and shapes, and use nine different base maps. But, being "lite," there are significant limitations. None of the options are really custom: you can only choose from a list of predefined styles. It is particularly frustrating that you can't use a unique json file to define the base map style, since Google already has a free Styled Maps Wizard. The ability to add descriptive information to the location bubbles is nice, but urls don't come through as live links and you can't add images, so the final result is a bit clunky. However, you can import html features and images from pre-existing My Maps maps. This is a tedious workaround that will hopefully be solved for future versions. But it's still fun to play with. So I made a quick little map of lunch options around our office! Check it out: You can also see some other examples here, including one about sharks!