This is part 2 of a series of articles on building the perfect Flex map interface. In part 1 we discussed some of the guiding principals. These were based off my experiences and client feedback.

Flex Map Demo

Flex Map Demo

To see a live version of the demo visit www.flexmappers.com/webmapsolution. Lets talk about some of the basic design and functionality of the demo:

1) Configuration – the colours and style of the header and pop ups are all loaded from a stylesheet. This means should a client wish to make stylistic changes they can do this themselves without ever needing to call on a programmer.

2) The header – Logo, title and subtitle text are all loaded from a configuration file. Again allowing clients flexibility in making changes themselves.

Flex Map Header

The header itself is both semi transparent and relatively small. Keeping real estate and focus on the map. Tools are listed as icons in the lower portion of the header. Mouse over a tool and a tool tips tells users the tools function. To the right side tool group icons are shown. These open and close a lower tool bar which contain tools of this type. Search tools might be a good example of what might be contained here. Two type of tools are contained here. Those which are map click related, or active tools. And, what I will call inactive tools, or those not involving a mouse click. Should an active tool be selected this is indicated in the header as ‘Selected Tool’. Examples of active tools include pan, draw, identify. Inactive tools might include full extent, print, help. Tool may or may not open a pop up. Pop ups can be opened and closed by clicking the header tool button.

3) Pop ups – These are built from the same base. This means functionally they are the same. All are moveable within the map extent, can be closed and minimised.

Flex Map Pop Up

The layers and overview pop ups are somewhat unique. Clients often want them visible when the application opens, they have unique locations and they can be open with other pop ups. This brings us to an important issue; should we allow multiple pop ups open at the same time? In the demo, and in my opinion, the answer, apart from overview and layers, is no. Why? Usually a pop up is tied to an action; i want to print the map, I’d like to draw on the map, maybe identify a feature. Each are unique. In the demo opening one pop up minimises any open pop ups. Now we minimise the pop up to an area of the screen to one side. All pop ups are minimised here. They are easy to again access and their state is not lost. Maximising a tool then sets that as active, if this is an active tool type, and minimises any open pop ups. This is a key functional approach. And very important in the design of this demo. Ply with this in the demo. I’d be interested in your feedback. Email me at [email protected]

In part 3 of this series we will build out the demo further. Using the Openscales Flex library we will add real tools to the application.

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