About ACME Mapper 2.0
This is a high-precision general purpose mapping application, based on
with a bunch of things added on.
How to Operate the ACME Mapper
The basic map operation is the same as any other Google map:
Drag the map with your mouse.
Double-click to center.
In the upper left corner is a widget with arrows that let you pan
the map in larger jumps.
Below the pan arrows is the zoom widget.
Move it in the "+" direction to zoom in closer, and in the "-"
direction to zoom out for a wider view.
In the upper right corner are some buttons that let you change the
type of map.
ACME Mapper adds the Topo and DOQ types, which are not in
standard Google Maps.
These come from
TerraServer's Web Services.
In the lower left corner you will find a scale widget.
This is updated automatically as you zoom in and out.
In the lower right corner you can optionally have an overview
One thing the ACME Mapper adds is the little cross-hairs widget in the
middle of the map.
This indicates the precise point you are centered on.
In the lower right you have the Control Panel.
This lets you do all sorts of stuff.
All the controls have 'tooltips', so one way to find out what
something does is to move your mouse over that item - a short
description will pop up.
Or you can read about the controls here:
A Print link to send the current page to your printer.
An Email link to easily mail the current page to a friend.
"Link to this page" - use this to make a URL for the map,
which you can send to other folks or use in a web page.
The exact coordinates of the center of the map, in your
A button to place a marker at the current coordinates.
The distance and direction to a few nearby place-names.
A Find box that accepts a wide variety of location specifiers:
- street address (USA only)
- city name (world wide)
- USA ZIP code
- latitude/longitude in any common format
- URL of a flickr photo that has geotags
A button to move the map to your current location, if that can
be figured out.
A button to bring up the Markers Panel, where you can see
all your current markers and rename/delete/goto them.
A button to bring up the Links Panel, containing a bunch of
links to other map-related web sites.
The links are automatically updated to go to the same location
you are looking at in ACME Mapper.
A button to bring up the Options Panel, where you can set
all sorts of preferences to change the Mapper's interface.
Some other features:
You can have a marker automatically created when you do a Find.
There are optional keyboard shortcuts - arrow keys to pan,
Page Up / Page Down / Home / End to pan longer distances, and
+/- to zoom.
You can set an option so that a single-click zooms in one
step on the point where you clicked.
There's an option to use the mouse wheel, if you have one,
to zoom in and out.
The map automatically remembers all your settings - your last
location, zoom, and map type, your markers, and your options.
The original ACME Mapper was an improved front-end for
a large geographical image database owned by Microsoft.
When Terraserver launched in 1998, it had aerial/satellite imagery for the
entire world, at a resolution of 1 meter/pixel.
Shortly after launching they removed everything but the USA images;
this was never explained.
Terraserver's user interface is horrible, so I made my own interface
that used their map tiles.
I called it ACME Mapper and opened it to the public in 2001.
In 2004 Terraserver added high-resolution color images to their database.
Coverage was limited to a few large metropolitan areas, but resolution
went down to 1/4 meter/pixel, which is very good.
In 2005 Google Maps came out with their own aerial/satellite imagery,
covering the whole world at a variety of resolutions, but nowhere
better than 1 meter/pixel.
Then in 2006, Google Maps added two more zoom levels, giving 1/4 meter
resolution - same as Terraserver but much wider coverage.
There's also a street map layer, for some countries.
Furthermore, Google's maps are being actively maintained and improved,
while Terraserver's haven't changed for years.
It was time to switch.
The new ACME Mapper 2.0 has basically all the features of
the old version, plus the nicer interface and wider coverage of
There are also some nice new features such as multiple markers
and world-wide place-names.
Questions About the ACME Mapper
What datum do you use?
How accurate is the placement of the cross-hair icon?
It seems to be pretty much dead-on.
Is there a way to measure the distance between two points?
Yes. Place a marker at one point, go to the other point, and then
bring up the Markers Panel. It'll tell you the distance from the
current location to the marker.
How do you turn addresses into coordinates?
This is called
I do some searches locally on a variety of databases including
the USGS's GNIS project,
If the local searches don't turn up a result then I forward the query to
If I have links pointing to the ACME Mapper, do I have to update them
for the new version?
No, your old links will continue to work exactly as before.
I don't see the old Save Map feature - is it gone?
Google's current terms of service prohibit fetching map tiles directly
and stitching them together into a single image.
Perhaps they will offer this capability at some point in the future.
Meanwhile, you can always use the Print button and send the
output to a file instead of the printer.
Can I still use the old version?
ACME Mapper 1.0 will stick around until Terraserver breaks
something I can't fix.
No idea how long that will be.
However, you will have to change the URL you use to either
The mouse-wheel zooming option only works in some browsers.
It is known to not work in Safari and Opera.
The keyboard shortcuts stop working every time you
use one of the popup panels such as the Markers Panel
or the Options Panel.
You can get the shortcuts back by reloading the page.
ACME Labs / ACME Mapper 2.1 / About