Yahoo Maps QuickTip: Measure Mileage for an Exercise Route

Okay, so this is admittedly off-topic from the usual Adobe Consulting fare, but I recently discovered a nice feature of Yahoo Maps Beta that’s a bit hidden that may be of interest to those who exercise and like to measure mileage of new routes.

For those who know me and have seen me in person, you might be surprised by the fact that I like to run – when I get the time, that is. Well, I also like to know how far I’m going when I run so that I can, say, decide to go out on a 3 mile run. For all the mapping websites out there (Mapquest, Google Maps, Yahoo Maps Classic), none of them had a way to draw a line on the map and get a mileage for that line. The best I could do was get directions and the mileage based on driving directions. Of course that’s fine and dandy if you want to run on a highway. But, what if I want to run along some back roads? With every new Mapping RIA that comes out, how I wish for a simple measuring tape tool. (Okay, I’ll confess as a User-Experience guy, I know that this doesn’t exactly fall within the 80% usage rule here).

Enter Yahoo Maps … you know, the Flex version. With the API I knew it’d be possible to create the tool myself, and I’ve thought about it off and on, but, I’m not THAT desparate to find new running routes. But, then recently I discovered something about Yahoo Maps. Right click and you get a “Drive to here…” menu option. Combine that with multi-point directions and, while it’s still driving, I can define my route, and not have Yahoo tell me the quickest way to drive there. Starting from my home, I can right click a a few blocks down the road, and then again, and again, following the route I want to run, and get a total mileage count for my planned run (or bike, or walk, or whatever).

Okay, it’s not perfect, since it’s going to account for one-way roads, and will only go places a car can drive, but until some enterprising developer out there creates the measuring tape tool for Yahoo Maps (or any other Mapping RIA… ESRI maybe?), it’s the best I can do.

Another possible use of the multi-right-click-trip-planner (I think I’ll have to trademark that term): Anyone inspired by the recent Pixar release Cars who would like to plan a trip… not necessarily the fastest way there, but the scenic route, can get those directions and a time estimate of how long it will take, without being told by the application “No you really want to take the Highway… it’s the fastest way”.

If anyone does build a real measuring tape tool, let us all know.