08 December 2018

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

This enhancement applies to the following tools:

County Lines on Google Maps
ZIP Codes on Google Maps
Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps

On all of these randymajors.com mapping tools, you always had to start by typing in a city, address, place, etc. and then clicking the "Go!" button.

Now with this latest enhancement, if you want to know more about your current location, you can just click the "Use current location" buttons (shown at left and highlighted in red below) and the map will immediately zoom in to your current location.

Depending on which of the above tools you're using, once the map zooms in,  the name of the current county, ZIP Code, or historical county will appear, along with all of the applicable boundaries.

How might this be useful?
- You're on the road and standing on your ancestor's farm and want to know what county the farm was part of back in 1850
- You're in an unfamiliar area and want to know where nearby research locations are where you can dig deeper (e.g. courthouses, libraries, cemeteries)
- You're travelling in a rural area (and not sure of a town name or address to type, or it's inconvenient to type) and you need to determine your current county or ZIP Code
- I've heard of people using the tool for a wide variety of other uses that benefit from quickly finding out your current county, from geocaching to real estate title work to disaster support relief

Feel free to share in the comments if you have other uses for this!

Technical note:  The "Use current location" functionality will be more accurate on smartphones and other devices containing a GPS.  It will work on most desktop browsers as well, but will typically be more of an approximate location.  

05 December 2018

Google Maps service fully restored on randymajors.com

Following a couple of days of problems, Google Maps functionality has been fully restored on the randymajors.com website and the following tools should be fully operational again:

County Lines on Google Maps
Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps
Historical World Boundary Maps
ZIP Codes on Google Maps

Background:  Over the last couple of days, there had been many reports of "over query limit" and rate-limit problems when people were using the above tools.  Working with Google support, those limits have been reset.

This issue was caused by pricing changes that Google has put in place for users of the Google Maps API, upon which the randymajors.com website relies.  The bottom line is that the website has the potential to become quite a bit more expensive for me to maintain.  As I want keep these tools free and unlimited for everyone, the only way to partially offset these costs is if users of the website click on ads when they find them useful.

Thank you for your patience and for your support of these freely available tools.

31 October 2018

First County Lines, now ZIP Code boundaries on Google Maps!

Quick link to the tool:  ZIP Codes on Google Maps

After the great response to my County Lines on Google Maps tool, I've heard a number of suggestions for other types of boundaries that Google Maps doesn't show.  One that has come up a number of times is for ZIP Codes. 

Yes, you can see one ZIP Code boundary at a time on Google Maps desktop version, but that's of limited use if you're trying to see all of the ZIP Codes in an area and don't know what they are (for example, it's not intuitive how to get Google Maps to show the ZIP Code boundary for the place adjacent to the current ZIP Code you're viewing).

So I've created another free tool that shows ZIP Code boundaries on Google Maps here:  ZIP Codes on Google Maps

As with the other tools, just type any address or place name, then click Go!  Zip Code boundaries will appear near your chosen place, and the ZIP Code will appear at the bottom of the map, as with this example around Chicago.

Click around on the map to see the ZIP Codes for where you clicked, or type another address or place name to see the ZIP Code boundaries there.

Sorry for those outside the U.S., this tool currently only supports U.S. locations.  Depending on demand, I may add postal codes for other countries in the future.

Please feel free to leave any comments or suggestions below, and share with anyone you think may find this tool useful.

22 September 2018

County Lines on Google Maps tool adds coverage of 4 more countries

Just a quick note to let you know that New Zealand, Canada and Switzerland have been added to the County Lines on Google Maps tool!

Update as of 29 Dec 2018:  Mexico Municipalities have been added, which are the next level administrative division below State.

So, the full line-up of countries where you can see counties is:

- United States
- United Kingdom
- Ireland
- Australia
- New Zealand
- Canada
- Mexico
- Switzerland

Please note that not all countries use counties. So in those cases, the tool will show the administrative division that exists between the state and local level.  Here are the particulars:

- US coverage includes all 50 states plus Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa
- Within the UK, England displays Counties and Unitary Authorities, Scotland displays Council Areas, Wales displays Principal Areas, and Northern Ireland displays Districts
- Australia displays Local Government Areas (LGAs)
- New Zealand displays Territorial Authorities
- Canada displays Census Divisions, which are Counties in some provinces but may include other geographies
- Mexico displays Municipalities, which are the next level administrative division below State
- Switzerland displays Districts

Here are a few screen captures to show samples of the new coverage:

16 September 2018

County Lines on Google Maps adds coverage for Australia

If you're Australian or familiar with Australian government hierarchy (which I wasn't!), the first thing you may ask is what is a "county" in Australia, as it evidently doesn't exist.

According to Wikipedia, "Unlike Canada or the United States, there is only one level of government in each state, with no distinction such as cities and counties."  Instead, Australia uses Local Government Areas (LGAs).

So now the County Lines on Google Maps tool includes all of the Australian LGA boundaries!

Here's a snapshot from the southeastern part of Australia, with the city and state name for the red marker displayed at the bottom of the map:

For reference, the following is a list of the types of Australian Local Government Areas.  All of the boundaries of these Australian LGAs can be displayed on the County Lines on Google Maps tool:

- Aboriginal Councils
- Areas
- Boroughs
- Cities
- District Councils
- Municipalities
- Regional Councils
- Rural Cities
- Shires
- Towns

Hope you find this addition useful!  Feel free to leave comments or suggestions below, and share the tool with your Australian friends.