Launch a web browser and go to the Animaps website. Click the Get started button at the top and then click the ‘register’ link at the upper right of the page. Type in your email address and then choose and confirm the password you would like to use to secure your Animaps account before clicking the Register button. With the account created, click the OK button to continue.
At the top of the left-hand pane, click the New Map button and type in a suitable name for the map. If you would like to create a map that covers a particular timeframe, type the length of time in the Duration box and use the dropdown menu to select the relevant unit (such as ‘Day(s)’). Click the padlock icon to the right so it changes to a locked padlock and type in a description before clicking the OK button. Note that if your map does not need to cover a particular timeframe, leave the padlock icon in the unlocked position.
Click the General link in the panel to the left-hand side of the page and configure the ‘Playback time’ setting to choose the duration of the map animation. If the animation is to cover a particular timeframe, select the ‘known’ radio button and set the date and time accordingly. Also decide whether the map should be public (so that anyone can view it), or choose the ‘private’ radio button to limit access to those with whom you choose to share it.
The map is supplied by the Google Maps service, so if you have ever used this, you will feel at home immediately. To set the initial view of the map, for example, use the left mouse button to drag the map until the desired area is centred, then either double-click to zoom in or click the plus (‘+’) and minus (‘-’) button controls to the left of the map. Just as with Google Maps, switch between various views by clicking the Map, Satellite, Hybrid or Terrain links to the upper right. Click the ‘Set from map’ button in the left-hand pane.
To start adding content to the map, click the red pushpin marker icon. Click a point on the map to add the marker, clicking the ‘edit’ link to add a suitable title. Use the text box at the bottom of the pop-up to add descriptive text (such as turning instructions): this will be made available on the completed map. Text for multiple markers can be edited more efficiently by expanding the Markers section in the left-hand pane – just click the small arrow alongside the Markers heading.
In either the marker pop-up or in the left-hand pane under Markers, click the ‘Animate me!’ button. Make sure that the Animated and ‘Show name on playback’ boxes are ticked and then click the ‘create route’ button. Now click at points on the map to form a route: either click specific roads to mark an exact route or just click key places on the way and Animaps will work out the rest. Double-click to place the last route point and you can start editing the animation.
Now click a waypoint marker to see options for controlling the speed of the animation. Click the last marker, for instance, and then select the ‘from start’ radio button to specify a total time. Alternatively, select each waypoint in turn and choose the ‘from previous’ radio button to set the animation duration from point to point. You can also have the animation pause at various waypoints by clicking the ‘stop here’ link.
It is also possible to change the icon that’s displayed while animation is paused by clicking the ‘During pause’ icon and choosing a selection from the list that appears. Click the blue cross in the upper right of the pop-up and then repeat the process for other points along the route.
If you are creating a route or an animated map for a sightseeing tour or to provide accurate directions, it can be helpful to add images along the way. Photos can be added to highlight points of interest or to show landmarks that may help with navigation. Click the camera button at the top of the map and then click on the map in the place where you would like to include the image. Click the browse button, select an image from the computer's hard disk and click Load to upload it. Edit the title and adjust display timing as before.
From time to time it’s wise to check how the route is shaping up. To do so, drag the clock icon (in the timeline above the map) to the left and right to move backwards and forwards through the animation. Alternatively, use the media player-style transport controls to the left of the timeline to jump back and forth between the waypoints. Click the Save button at the top of the left-hand pane to save progress.
It is possible to add text pop-ups that aren’t attached to a particular waypoint marker. To do this, click the document icon to the right of the camera icon above the main map view and then click on the map to place the note wherever you would like it to appear. Edit the title of the note, add the necessary text and choose when in the timeline the note should be displayed. When finished, click the blue cross to close the pop-up.
There is no limit to the number of distinct animated routes that can be added to a single map. To make it easier to identify individual routes, it can be helpful to show each in a different colour. Click the start marker for a route and click the arrow next to the ‘Future route’ label. Click the palette icon to the right of the Color label and choose a starting colour for the line and then click the small arrow to expand the ‘Past route’ section. Repeat the process to set the colour of the route line as it is travelled.
Your animated map can be shared in a couple of different ways. The first option is to send a link in an email or other message. Alternatively, the whole Animap can be embedded into another website (such as your blog). Click the Share section in the left-hand pane and then click either the ‘Link to this map’ or ‘Embed this map in a page’ button. The dialogue box that appears includes both the link and the HTML-embedding code: simply click to highlight the one you want and then use the Control (Ctrl) and C keyboard shortcut to copy it to the Windows Clipboard.
Created maps are saved to your Animaps account, so they can be accessed and edited later. Click the My Animaps section in the left-hand pane to see a list of everything you have created. Click the ‘edit’ link to continue editing, or click the red cross icon to delete any you no longer need. The Play link enables you to preview how the animation will look.