Review: easily customisable Flash map from Flash World Maps
Now that I'm re-active on the site there's been a quick flurry of sponsored reviews, this one comes courtesy of flashworldmap.com; the vendor for a full-featured interactive Flash map.
You might think this is a bit niche but I disagree, there are so many real world applications for a scalable Flash map that this could actually be more useful to you than you think. Potential uses I can see are:
- global business corporate website showing the regions they operate in
- showing office locations worldwide
- showing statistics, graphs or regional information
- tourist information
At face value the features are actually really handy; the ability to specify custom text/images in the overlay for each country means you can do whatever you like with the platform. The addition of points on the map using latitude and longitude values makes it increasingly useful (users of Google Maps will be familiar with this concept).
It's entirely customisable using XML which is a bonus for most developers, because there's nothing more frustrating than being told that your license allows you to do whatever you like with the app, but later discover you have to delve into the .FLA to tweak the aesthetics or data. The map is fed by an XML file defining the active regions, colours, markers and information to show in the overlay - meaning you don't necessarily need to be a developer to work with the Flash map, just having some handle on what you're trying to achieve and not being afraid of XML is sufficient.
How it came to be
In short, Chris Youderian (the creator) needed a Flash world map. Unable to find a decent free version he set about creating his own. 7 months later he's been selling it as a product for a while and doing rather well out of it.
The map costs $200 per license (on a site-by-site basis I understand) and while you might initially pause and think "woah, expensive", consider the time it would take to develop something comparable. When I freelance I charge £250-300 per day normally; so if a client wanted an interactive Flash map, unless I could write something better than this by about 11am on my first day (which I couldn't...) then this is a far more profitable way of achieving my goals. It's exactly that reason that makes it worth the money.
The map itself
Is good, it looks professional and has enough options to allow you to utilise it for almost any purpose. Sure, if you want a local map to plot friends houses, parties, events or whatever then it's entirely no use to you and you should stick to Google Maps. But Google Maps isn't great at offering continent-level hoverable regions, zoomable countries on click etc, so you can't even compare the two and nor should you.
The bad bits
As always, my reviews come with constructive criticism and typically enough I don't actually have bad things to say about the product at all. My only real criticisms are on the website it is sold from; such a professional product should sit on a comparably professional site and unfortunately the current one looks like a placeholder. I'd suggest hiring a designer to perform some brand development and create something simple but sleek; hell, sales should increase as a result.
Other than that, it's a great product and one I'll keep in mind should any of my clients request a world map (not had such a request for a while actually, must be due one soon...). I wish Chris all the best of luck because it seems that the product is already doing well. With some minor re-investment on the brochure site and a little bit of marketing I suspect he could make some good idle income from this.
If you require a customisable Flash map, visit FlashWorldMap.com for more information and an instant download. If you're reading this in 2011 and the website still looks the same as my screenshots, give Chris a helpful prod!
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