Searching Flickr with a Map

by Chadwick Wood •  August 11th, 2006

Earlier today I downloaded a bookmarklet from Sumaato Labs that allows you to easily geotag your photos on Flickr using Google Maps. I tried it on a few of my photos, and was really impressed with how easy it made the geotagging process.

That got me to thinking, "wouldn't it be great if there was a website that allowed you to browse Flickr using a map?" Recently I've been playing with the Google Maps API, so after some quick searching to see if such a site existed (couldn't find one), I decided that I should sit down and make a prototype.

It quickly occurred to me that such a site would have to maintain its own database of coordinates for each photo. It's easy to find geotagged photos on Flickr by searching for photos with the tag "geotagged", but you can't directly search by latitude and longitude coordinates. If only Flickr's API allowed you to search by tags with regular expressions...

Ok, fine, so you just use the Flickr API to grab metadata on geotagged images, and then for each photo, just parse out the latitude and longitude from the tags, and store that information in a database along with the id of the photo. That's all the information you really need. But you'd have to maintain that database! The more I thought about it, I figured that at best I could make such a website, it would get some visits, and before long Flickr would probably integrate it themselves.

Then it finally hit me. Duh. Yahoo owns Flickr. Yahoo's got a mapping service of their own. More googling led me a thread of posts at Tailrank that informed me that a couple of people have already seen glimpses of Flickr adding integrated geotagging features... which means that a Yahoo Maps-based Flickr browser can't be too far off. I hope they do a good job with it. Unfortunately, I like Google Maps a lot more than Yahoo's.