Duncan's blog

September 25, 2011

Google Maps API – adding markers

I previously showed how to create a very simple map. But usually you’ll want to do more than that. Let’s start with adding markers to the map.

So, using the code from the previous post, I just add this to the end of the initialize function:

var homeMarker = new google.maps.Marker({
	position: homeLatlng
});

That’s all you need to create a Marker object! There are many other attributes you can specify here, but only position is required.

But you’ll notice that using this code, no marker will be visible. That’s because we haven’t said what map this marker is for. Sometimes you might want to deliberately do this, e.g. by creating markers in advance for showing/hiding dynamically later on.

So there are two ways to associate a marker with a map. When you create the Marker object, just specify the map attribute. The value of which should refer to the variable name you used when you created the Map object.

var homeMarker = new google.maps.Marker({
	position: homeLatlng,
	map: map
});

Alternatively, you can call the setMap() function:

homeMarker.setMap(map);

If you ever wanted to remove a marker from a map, just call marker.setMap(null).

So at this point you’ve got a map that looks something like this (showing the brilliantly-titled No Name Key in Florida):

Great, right? Well maybe you want to do just a bit more than that. Let’s examine some of the other options.

Firstly, you can specify a title. This will be displayed as a tooltip when you mouse-over the marker.

var homeMarker = new google.maps.Marker({
	position: homeLatlng,
	map: map,
	title: "Check this cool location"
});

Maybe you’re not keen on that shadow. Easy, just set the flat property or use the marker.setFlat() function:

var homeMarker = new google.maps.Marker({
	position: homeLatlng,
	map: map,
	title: "Check this cool location",
	flat: true
});

Perhaps you need users to be able to drag the markers around (this will come in useful later if you’re doing more advanced dynamic things on the map). Simple, just set the draggable property or use the marker.setDraggable() function:

var homeMarker = new google.maps.Marker({
	position: homeLatlng,
	map: map,
	title: "Check this cool location",
	draggable: true
});

Fantastic. But supposing you’re not keen on the default marker image? Not a problem. Google have lots of different marker images you can use:

To use one of these images, just specify the icon property when creating the marker, or use the marker.setIcon() function. You can use either an absolute or relative URL (for images you’re hosting yourself).

var homeMarker = new google.maps.Marker({
	position: homeLatlng,
	map: map,
	title: "Check this cool location"
	icon: "http://maps.google.com/mapfiles/ms/micons/blue.png"
});

One difference you’ll notice from when we just used the default image, is that no shadow is displayed underneath the marker. You might not care, although it’s a nice visual touch that gives the map a bit of depth. If you want to specify a shadow, you need to have a shadow image as well. This is the shadow image for the Google markers:

One way to setup a shadow is just specify the shadow property on the MarkerOptions, or use marker.setShadow().

var homeMarker = new google.maps.Marker({
	position: homeLatlng,
	map: map,
	title: "Check this cool location",
	icon: "http://maps.google.com/mapfiles/ms/micons/blue.png",
	shadow: "http://maps.google.com/mapfiles/ms/micons/msmarker.shadow.png"
});

However this doesn’t actually place the shadow in the correct location for the above example (see image on the right). I think it’s important to understand what’s happening here.
The marker image is 32 x 32 pixels in dimensions. The shadow image is also 32 pixels high, but is wider, 59 pixels. Both images are currently being centred horizontally on the same point on the map.

Shadow:

Marker:

Together:

What we need to do is create MarkerImage objects for both the marker and its shadow, which will allow us to offset the shadow image to be slightly more to the right, so that it lines up nicely with the marker.

var image = new google.maps.MarkerImage(
	'http://maps.google.com/mapfiles/ms/micons/blue-dot.png',
	new google.maps.Size(32, 32),	// size
	new google.maps.Point(0,0),	// origin
	new google.maps.Point(16, 32)	// anchor
);

var shadow = new google.maps.MarkerImage(
	'http://maps.google.com/mapfiles/ms/micons/msmarker.shadow.png',
	new google.maps.Size(59, 32),	// size
	new google.maps.Point(0,0),	// origin
	new google.maps.Point(16, 32)	// anchor
);

So what’s going on here? We define the URL of the image, then the size of the image (width,height). Then the origin, which is the x,y coordinates of where our marker starts on that image (useful if you’re using one sprite image to do lots of markers). The origin locates the top-left corner of our marker. The anchor is the important one here for lining up our marker and our image. This is where the image ‘anchors’ itself to our latlng coordinates on the map. So as the marker comes to a point half-way along it, we say it’s 16 pixels along and 32 points down (i.e. at the bottom of the image). We then repeat this with the shadow, where the tip of the shadow is also 16 pixels along that image, coincidentally.

We then attach the icon and its shadow to the marker like so:

var homeMarker = new google.maps.Marker({
	position: homeLatlng,
	map: map,
	title: "Check this cool location",
	icon: image,
	shadow: shadow
});

You can also get markers from other sources, e.g.

Finally, here’s the complete code showing how to add custom marker images as outlined above:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<title>Google Maps API V3 lesson 2</title>

<meta name="viewport" content="initial-scale=1.0, user-scalable=no" />
<style type="text/css">
html { height: 100% }
body { height: 100%; margin: 0; padding: 0 }
#map_canvas { height: 300px; width:600px }
</style>

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/js?sensor=false"></script>

<script type="text/javascript">
	function initialize() {
		var homeLatlng = new google.maps.LatLng(24.696554,-81.328238);

		var myOptions = {
			zoom: 15,
			center: homeLatlng,
			mapTypeId: google.maps.MapTypeId.ROADMAP
		};

		var map = new google.maps.Map(document.getElementById("map_canvas"), myOptions);

		var image = new google.maps.MarkerImage(
			'http://maps.google.com/mapfiles/ms/micons/green-dot.png',
			new google.maps.Size(32, 32),	// size
			new google.maps.Point(0,0),	// origin
			new google.maps.Point(16, 32)	// anchor
		);

		var shadow = new google.maps.MarkerImage(
			'http://maps.google.com/mapfiles/ms/micons/msmarker.shadow.png',
			new google.maps.Size(59, 32),	// size
			new google.maps.Point(0,0),	// origin
			new google.maps.Point(16, 32)	// anchor
		);

		var homeMarker = new google.maps.Marker({
			position: homeLatlng, 
			map: map,
			title: "Check this cool location",
			icon: image,
			shadow: shadow
		});
	}

	google.maps.event.addDomListener(window, 'load', initialize);
</script>
</head>
<body>
	<div id="map_canvas"></div>
</body>
</html>
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6 Comments »

  1. [...] previously I showed how to create a basic map, then how to add markers to it. Now suppose you’re wanting to have one of those little bubbles pop up when you click on your [...]

    Pingback by Google Maps API – infowindows « Duncan’s blog — October 8, 2011 @ 12:28 pm | Reply

  2. Looking for a map programmer… is that you (or someone you can recommend)?

    Comment by Eldad — July 3, 2012 @ 2:12 am | Reply

  3. Thank you so much for this tip, I’m sure I would have wasted a few hours on the shadow part without your post!

    Comment by Jean-Marc — October 25, 2012 @ 6:57 pm | Reply

  4. I was looking everywhere a way to offset the shadow image. This solved it right away. Thanks

    Comment by Gio — January 22, 2013 @ 5:05 pm | Reply

  5. [...] now we’ve created a map, added markers and infowindows. Maybe you want to start drawing lines and shapes on [...]

    Pingback by Google Maps API – polylines « Duncan’s blog — February 12, 2013 @ 6:43 pm | Reply

  6. thanx thanx thanx ….thanx in advanced :)

    Comment by telani — March 20, 2014 @ 3:55 pm | Reply


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