The Next Generation of LDS Maps Print E-mail
Written by Jonathan Fowlke   
Tuesday, 01 December 2009

In the summer of 2008, the Church released a new version of the Meetinghouse Locator known as LDS Maps. Whereas the previous version of Meetinghouse Locator required users to drill-down through multiple static pages, LDS Maps has a single dynamic, interactive world map. Now, after more than two million visitors to LDS Maps and thousands of suggestions, we are preparing for the nearby release of LDS Maps 2.0. The pre-release beta can be accessed by going to https://beta-maps.lds.org. Note: this is a pre-release version, the final version will be released sometime next year. Any comments or feedback should be submitted electronically through the “Feedback” link in the upper right corner of the application.

The new version takes the best of the original release and adds an abundance of feature enhancements. One of the new features is the ability for Church members to login with their LDS Account and see their own ward membership and ward boundaries. This makes it easier to find directions to any member in the ward. Members can download a file containing the coordinates of all their ward members and import them into most GPS devices.

The new site also has an upgraded printer-friendly version of the map, enabling members to print custom ward directories. LDS Maps 2.0 has a new role-based permissions authentication system so when members of the bishopric sign in, they can correct the location of members in their ward.

One enhancement requested by our users was the ability to locate temples. We listened, and now, in addition to meetinghouses, the site will list local temples, deseret industries, and other facility types, as they become available.

LDS Maps 2.0 can display meetinghouses, temples and other LDS facilities worldwide, whereas the original meetinghouse locator could only display a few meetinghouses at a time. Those experienced with JavaScript-based mapping interfaces may find this enhancement hard to believe because of the limitations imposed on the number of map markers that can be placed without slowing down the entire interface. There are more than 15,000 meetinghouses worldwide – attempting to render all of these as individual markers would bring the map’s performance to a crawl.

This issue was solved using ESRI ArcGIS Server, which allows the site to dynamically overlay the images of the facility markers on the map without having the overhead of a JavaScript and HTML object for each facility. Then, by adding simple calculations performed on each mouse click, the site can determine if the portion of the overlaid image contains a marker. If so, the site can render an information balloon connected to the facility on the map.

We’ve appreciated all the wonderful feedback we’ve received from our users and encourage them to continue to send us inspiring ideas on how we can make mapping a better experience for everyone!

Jonathan Fowlke is an engineer for the Church.

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