Terry's Second Site Tips

Adding Maps to Your Site

This page updated 19 Apr 2013

Version note: Applies to Second Site 6 & 7

You can make your site even more interesting by adding customized maps. These are the same types of maps you commonly see on websites to provide location information for businesses and places of interest. They are great for illustrating migration paths, display the areas where the people in your site may have lived, or probably dozens of other uses I've not even considered.

This article describes some of the aspects of using this feature. An example of a set of five maps for a family group can be see on my Narrative family history site. Other articles in my Second Site Section cover other topics about customizing your site.

This article assumes the reader is familiar with the basic steps in creating a site with Second Site, as described in my Second Site Basics article, and managing Custom Pages, as described in my Second Site Overview article.

Topics Included in this Article
Creating the Map Page
Creating a page on which the map will appear
Defining the Map
Providing the basic definitions of the map
Refining the Map
Locating and sizing your map
Adding Markers
Placing markers to call attention to specific points
Adding Lines
Adding lines to show migrations, etc.
Adding Colored Areas
Marking areas with colored outlines
Unlock Code Needed
In most cases you will need a code – they are currently free
Links from Person Pages
Adding cross-reference links from Person Page text


Second Site's Map feature uses the major online map services to generate the actual map. You choose the map service, and specify the beginning position, style, and zoom level when you create your site. If you wish, you can add markers, lines or colored areas on the map. While viewing the map the reader can change the position, zoom level, and map style if desired, as you may be familiar with if you have used websites that include such maps.

Maps may be included in sites posted on the Internet, or on sites distributed on CDs. The maps are accessed online when the reader views them, so if placed on sites on a CD the reader would need a live Internet connection to see them.

Creating a Map Page

Maps are created in Second Site within a Custom Page User item. To set up a map, first create a Custom Page. Select that Custom Page, click the Add button, and on the Choose User Item Type screen, select the "Content Item - Map" item:

Map User Item

You can add a caption and text to the map itself, but you may want to add other text or content either in the Content fields of the Sub-Page, or by the use of other User Items. More details on working with User Items can be found in in my Second Site Overview article.

Defining the Map

When you have created the Map Content Item, you see the Edit Map screen, where you define the general properties of the map:

Edit Map Screen

On that screen you will likely want to use the following fields:

You can set the Center Point and Zoom level on this screen if you know what values you want to use, but I find it is easier to set them with the Map Editor, as described next.

Refining the Map

Next we adjust the parameters of the map to display the area we want readers to see when the map opens. We do that by setting the center and zoom level of the map, which can most easily be done with the Map Editor. Open it with the Preview and Edit button at the lower left of the Edit Map screen.

You must be connected to the Internet to use the Map Editor because it displays actual map data obtained from Google Maps. The Map Editor always displays a map from that service, even if you have selected a different service for your site. If you have specified a different service, you can make all the settings from the Editor but you will need to make a test site to view the actual effects.

Map Editor

By default the Map Editor initially opens with the map centered on North America, and displaying the Map Style you have selected. If you have the Site Language set to a language other than English (US) it will open centered on the indicated country: the United Kingdom, Germany, French, Holland, or Norway.

You can change the Style with the drop-down at the upper right (remember that if you use a different Map Service that the style will likely be rendered differently than you see in the Editor).

You can change the center of the map by dragging it to a different location, or by use of the four arrow points at the top left of the map. You can change the zoom level by use of the + and - buttons.

Once you have the map positioned as you like, click the OK button to exit the Editor, and save your settings. When you do, the Map Style, Center Point, and Zoom level settings on the Edit Map screen will be changed to the values you set with the Editor.

Adding Marker Symbols

There are two ways to add markers to your map; the Events method and the Manual method.

The Events Method uses events recorded in your TMG data to automatically place markers for the locations recorded in those Tags. Using this method requires that you enter coordinates in the LatLong field of each Tag you want to have represented by a map symbol.

To use this method, you click the Add button on the bottom of the Map Events box on the right side of the Edit Map screen. This Opens the Edit Map Events screen, which offers a number of tools to select the specific type of events you want to depict. You can use one or more of the three filters to limit the events that will be displayed:

You can also specify that a line will be drawn to connect the events you specify, which might be useful, for example, to depict migration paths.

Setting the center and zoom controls for the map's initial position does not limit the points that are included with the filters. The map you create is actually world-wide, even though you set it to display only a specific area when the reader opens the map. The reader can change the settings to display any other part of the world. If you want to include only events that fall within the area you set to be initially visible, you must use the filters to include only points in that area. The Place Filter is probably the most useful for that purpose.

I have not used this method, so I cannot provide further details on its use. I have found the Manual Method, described next, works well for the types of maps I've wanted to create, which are more general in nature and do not relate to very specific locations.

The Manual Method uses the Map Editor to manually locate markers on the map and add any desired notes. To use it, click on the Preview and Edit button to open Map Editor. Note that if you have previously set the centering, zoom level, and style, the Map Editor now opens using with those settings.

Setting Points

Markers are added in the map editor by clicking on the Marker button at the top center, then clicking at the spot where you want the marker to appear. Once the marker is placed, you can click on it and drag it to a different location if you like.

Here, I have added one maker near Richmond, and am now adding a second for Greenbrier County. After the marker is placed, click on the marker itself, or the label for it (here "Marker (2)") to open the Edit MapItem screen, as shown above. In that screen you may want to use these fields:

When you have added your markers, re-center the map as desired and click OK to close the Editor and save the settings.

Adding Lines to the Map

In addition to markers, you can also add lines to your map. These can be useful to show migrations and probably lots of other types of information. You can add lines with the Map Editor:


You add lines by clicking on the Lines button at the top center of the screen, then clicking on the beginning point, and then on each additional point you want to create. Double-click on the final point to terminate the line. While I only show a single segment line above, lines can have any number of segments.

After the line is drawn, you can move it my holding the cursor over it until the boxes appear as shown in the screen-shot above. Then click and drag the boxes to relocate the line. Note the shaded "ghost" box in the middle of the line above. If you click and drag it, it becomes a new point on the line, dividing the formerly straight segment into two new segments.

Like the marker points, you can add a Title and Text to lines, which will appear in a box that appears when the reader clicks on the line. Other controls on the Edit MapItem screen for lines allow you to change the width, color, and opacity of the line.

If you want to connect markers with a line, you may find trying to place the ends of the line close to the markers doesn't work. Instead, draw the line a little bit away from the markers, then move the ends of the line closer to the markers by dragging. I find zooming in helps me get the ends of the lines positioned as I like them.

Adding Colored Outlines to the Map

In some cases it is useful to mark areas with a colored area. For example, one might mark property owned by an ancestor, a county, state, or other area. This can be done with the Polygon feature in the Map Editor:

Adding Colored areas

Colored areas are added by clicking the Polygon button at the upper left corner of the screen, then clicking at each corner of the desired polygon. Double-click at the last corner and the polygon will automatically close. After the polygon is added, you can move each line segment of the bounding line, and split segments into two parts, by clicking and dragging on the corner boxes that appear when you hover over the figure, as illustrated above for lines.

The Edit MapItem screen allows you to add a Title and descriptive Text, just as you can for the other items. You can also control the line width, and the color and opacity of both the outline and the fill color.

To create an outline with irregular or curved edges, first create a simple polygon that generally covers the intended area. Then zoom in, and move and sub-divide the segments by dragging until you have the desired shape. For an example of such an irregularly shaped outline, see my Goochland Co. Map.

Getting the Required Unlock Code

Some of the map services require that you obtain a code key in order to use their maps on a site hosted on a server. In some cases a code is required when the site is located on your own computer. The keys are long alpha-numeric codes, like the "unlock codes" used by software such as TMG and Second Site. Currently, all the codes are free, but obtaining them requires going to the service's website and filling out the necessary forms, then responding to an email message.

For details on obtaining the required codes for the services you want to use, open the Edit Map screen by double-clicking on the Sub-Page Map item, or by selecting it and clicking Add. Then press the F1 key to open Help for that item. Scroll down to the "Mapping Service" section and see the instructions in the box labeled "API Key Requirement."

Once you have obtained the key, copy it by copy and paste to the field for that service in the Pages > Site section.

Adding Links from Person Pages

You may want to provide links on the Person Page sections of selected people to a Map so that readers can easily find a map associated with the person. There are at least two ways to do that:

Creating a Maps Header – creates a section header in the Person Page entry for each person the map applies to. This method works well if the maps relate to the people in a general way. There are several ways to do this, but the best is probably by use of Flag Events, similar to the method I describe for creating a header for family background pages in my article on Flag Events. This method places a header like the "Charts" header that is produced when you have a person who is included in a chart. The person doesn't actually have to appear in any way in the Map, so this is useful if you want to provide a map of the area where a group of people lived without having to mark specific locations relating to each person on the map.

Embedding Links within the Text – creates a link within the text of the entry for an individual person. This works well if the map is related to a particular event or time period in the person's life. Since the link appears within the text it tends to associate the link to the Map page to specific events in the person's life. With this method you add Tags in TMG to the people who you want to link to the Map, as described in my Useful Tricks article.


The mapping feature adds utility to sites created with Second Site. Your maps can be as simple or as complex as you like. A simple map is quite easy to add to your site, and there are ample tools available if you want to spend the time on a more elaborate presentation.

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