A quick update on the increased speed of the mapping tools

After some infrastructure upgrades, all of the randymajors.org mapping tools are now operating faster!  In my time tests, I was seeing drawing speeds that were 2.5x to 3x faster than before the upgrade. The very largest of map layers, such as Section Township Range on Google Maps, seem to see the biggest improvement (drawing in 5-6 seconds now vs 25-30 seconds before the upgrade), although other layers such as Historical Counties, County Lines and ZIP Codes also drew about 2x faster that before. So you should on average see the information panel above the maps update a bit faster and … Read more

Overlay present-day county lines on the Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool

Based on an idea from a current user (thanks Steve!), there’s now an option to overlay present-day county lines on top of historical county lines. This gives you the ability to see at a glance if you’re researching in an area and timeframe where the county lines have shifted between the historical date you’re viewing and the present-day.  To use this feature, just check the “Also show present-day county lines” checkbox in the lower left of the map on the Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool.  When you check that box, you’ll see thin red lines (present-day county lines) … Read more

No more bouncing maps and evasive red dots!

Just a brief note here to let you know of a fix to an issue that has been reported by a number of users of all of the randymajors.org map tools (such as the County Lines on Google Maps, Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps and all the others). The issue was related to the maps “bouncing” and the red dot (shown below) moving even though the user didn’t intend for it to move. In particular, if the user was panning around the map (e.g. dragging the map with their mouse) in order to see something just off the edge of … Read more

Why have all the map tools changed…again?

If you’ve recently used any of the map tools on randymajors.org (such as Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps or County Lines on Google Maps, etc) you may have noticed some changes. So why fix it if it ain’t broke?! The biggest reason is that all the map tools were about to break due to Google shutting down their Fusion Tables technology, which is what I had been using to draw all of the maps.  So after some very, very heavy-lifting for many weeks (just ask my wife!) I was able to move all of the map tools to another Google … Read more

Happy Independence Day! Enjoy This Historical County Boundary Animation

In honor of this 4th of July, here’s an animation of county boundary formation in the United States starting in 1629 up through the present day, derived from the Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool: And here’s a close-up focusing on the northeastern U.S.: Explore all of the historical county boundary lines in your area of interest in great detail using the Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool.  I’ll leave you with this example centered on Independence Hall in Philadelphia, 4 July 1776: Wishing you and your families and friends a happy and peaceful 4th!

Show me ALL of the names!

You’ve always been able to search or click on the map and have information about the ONE spot where you clicked appear at the bottom of the map, like this: “But wouldn’t it be nice,” many people have asked over the years, “to see ALL of the names of the counties on the map rather than just the one that I clicked?”  Or something to that effect. Now you can.  Just go to the Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool and check “Show labels…” checkbox in the lower left corner of the map, and your map will be pleasantly … Read more

Thank you for the feedback! Now, what have I done with it?

Thank you to the 182 people that provided valuable feedback via the user survey I had running over the last 30 days on the randymajors.org map and search tools. This post provides a brief summary of the feedback, as well as a handful of enhancement ideas that came from the surveys. First, what are people using the tools for? Given the history of this website, it’s no surprise that the largest proportion of users use the tool for genealogy purposes, especially the Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps and AncestorSearch: Google Custom Search tools. However, it was quite interesting to see … Read more

See for miles and miles…or at least a few more inches

Probably the most common request I hear is something along the lines of “can you make the map window larger?” Well the wait is finally over.  All of the randymajors.org map windows are now optimized to fill more of your screen, no matter what your screen resolution is. This update applies to County Lines on Google Maps, City Limits on Google Maps, Township Range on Google Maps, ZIP Codes on Google Maps, Location Explorer on Google Maps, Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps, Climate Info on Google Maps, Time Zones on Google Maps and Area Codes on Google Maps. For those on … Read more

How can I improve the randymajors.org mapping and search tools for you?

With many tools getting quite a lot of usage on the randymajors.org website, it’s a good time for me to ask users what I can do to improve the tools. I’d be grateful if you would take a few minutes to provide feedback on the tools you use by following the links below.  Your feedback will help ensure I focus on the things that are most important (including new tools you wish existed!). Please click links or images below to be taken to the survey for that tool.  Your responses will remain anonymous.  (Visit the tools using the links on … Read more

Now use your current location on all randymajors.org mapping tools!

This enhancement applies all of the mapping tools on this website: County Lines on Google Maps ZIP Codes on Google Maps City Limits on Google Maps Township Range on Google Maps Location Explorer on Google Maps Climate Info on Google Maps Time Zones on Google Maps Area Codes on Google Maps Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps On all of these randymajors.org mapping tools, you always had to start by typing in a city, address, place, etc. Now with this latest enhancement, if you want to know more about your current location, you can just click the “⊕ Locate” buttons in the upper … Read more