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Online mapping is a way to use maps available online to provide a number of functions that traditional maps have provided for years. The most common application is probably road mapping, but there are other types of maps available as well, such as nautical maps. Online mapping is a growing field as many are turning to the Internet for more personalized information.
One advantage of online mapping is the ability to custom make a map for an individual based on particular needs. This can help a traveler by removing all unnecessary information and providing a simple, concise summary of a proposed route. Thus, the map is much more than a graphic of roads, it is a custom-made printing specifically based on a desired route.
Many online mapping programs offer the chance to produce a map using a number of different preferences. First, those who may want to take more scenic routes may have an option for that in the listings. Those who prefer interstate travel could have an option for that as well. This allows the user to further customize a route that not only takes into account the origin and destination, but also the driving preferences a user may have.
In addition, online mapping also usually includes text directions that can help provide yet another affirmation of the route. These text directions are often displayed in conjunction with any map that is shown and is printable, for those who need to take their map with them. In many cases, the directions can take you from a certain point on a block to another point in an area just as defined thousands of miles away. It can also estimate the time it will take to get there.
Further, online mapping can be updated in real time. Unlike traditional maps that may only be updated once a year just before they are published, online mapping has no such limitations. However, it is important to understand that just because a map can be updated on a daily, weekly or monthly basis does not necessarily mean that it will be. Even the most thorough of mapping services may not be able to keep up with all the construction projects and changes on any given day.
Those who use online mapping should also understand there may be some disadvantages, especially if a traveler gets off route. Some maps may only show the route the driver should take, without other streets being listed. If this is the case, a driver may be on their own in finding a way back to the original route. Also, unlike an interactive GPS system, there is no way for an online mapping service to notify a traveler if they do wander off the route prescribed.