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Create some really cool maps with these apps

These Web tools are designed to help you create a terrific Google Maps mashup, whether you want to map your Flickr photos or guide people attending an event.

Google Maps is dynamic. Making customized maps through the service isn't very difficult. But there are a variety of third-party tools on the Web that help you create fully customized Google Maps mashups. From Flickr geotag integration to wedding event mapping to just doodling, you can do it all.

Mapping tools

GeoTagIt gives you a bunch of options. Don Reisinger/CNET

GeotagIt With GeotagIt, you can quickly upload photos from your Flickr account or links from your Delicious page, then add geotags to them. (You can also do this within Flickr.) The link or photo is then displayed on the map in the area you chose. It shows the item's longitude and latitude on the page. It runs in Flash instead of Google Maps like the other services in this roundup. That makes moving around the map a little difficult. The mashup is in beta, so it can be buggy at times. But I found that adding pictures from Flickr worked beautifully. Plus, I liked GeotagIt more than than Flickr's geotagging feature. Adding multiple images at once was simpler. And with the help of its map search, finding friends' geotagged images took seconds.

Map Builder Map Builder is a powerful tool, but it's extremely simple to use. You can pick a location with city and state or ZIP code. Once the tool finds the location's latitude and longitude, it then gives you the option of adding a caption, a description, and picking the color and design of the marker. Unfortunately, the site lets you upload photos only if you use its real-estate service, which is subscription-based. The real-estate service is designed for real-estate professionals who want to map their listed properties for clients. It costs $19.95 per month. Other than that, I was quite happy with Map Builder. I think that it's an ideal service for companies that want to integrate a custom map into their Web site.

Mapicurious Mapicurious lets you mark your favorite locations, share hot spots with friends, or simply add points of interest. You can also upload pictures to your map. And adding all that content is made simple with the site's fine menu system. I was really impressed by Mapicurious.

MapTrot Adding points of interest to MapTrot takes just a few seconds. Once you decide to create a map, you can input the name or address of the place you want to add. You can include a description or direct people to Google Images. But there's not much else to MapTrot. I liked it, but it's not better than a site like Map Builder.

MKMap doesn't need typical markers. Don Reisinger/CNET

MKMap MKMap is designed to help you create maps for public use. You can add public-transit routes and edit maps that others have created. Adding points is easy, though the menu system the site employs is a little difficult to use. But once you get used to it, I think you'll find that creating the maps gets easier over time.

Pixagogo Pixagogo is an extremely simple service, which makes using it quite fun. Simply find a photo on your hard drive, upload it to the site, add a description, input where it was taken, and Pixagogo will add the photo to your map. Adding photos takes just seconds. You can even make your map public, so other users on the site can view it. If you want to create a photo map, this site is for you.

Quikmaps Quikmaps won't blow you away with its advanced functionality. But it's not meant to offer that. Instead, the service lets you draw lines over a map. You can also choose different markers and add descriptions to map points. At first glance, it might not seem helpful. But once you zoom in at street level, you'll find that it's an ideal way to map a route. I liked Quikmaps. I think that you will, too.

Trippermap If you are a Flickr fanatic, Trippermap is for you. You can add photos to any point on your map, which can be displayed in both Flash or through Google Maps. You can also add a description to your photos. Trippermap even adds a nice slideshow-like pane at the bottom of your map, so visitors can scroll through photos, click on them, and find them on the map quickly. The slideshow pane at the bottom of the map made it more appealing than GeotagIt or Flickr's geotagging feature. It was also easier to find pictures on a big map in Trippermap. There's just one catch: Trippermap's better service is available only for $9.75 per year. That will give you a Google Earth option, custom colors, and an unlimited number of photos per location. The free version of the service allows for only 50 locations and a limited number of Flickr photos. So if you don't want to pay for a maps integration, Trippermap isn't for you.

UseaMap lets you add directions to your maps. Don Reisinger/CNET

Useamap Useamap helps you plan an event in your area. It automatically finds your location, but you can change it to any major city you want. Once you're in the desired city map, you can search for the location of your event, add a marker on the map, and share it with invitees. You can also add directions. If you want to add photos, you can do that too. I liked Useamap and its slick design. Check it out.

Wayfaring Wayfaring is an extremely powerful mapping tool. Besides adding points to your map, you can upload videos and photos. You can also add notes to areas of interest. And if you want to see who's tracking the map, the tool lets visitors create a profile and add their location to your map. Wayfaring is a well-designed app that makes adding content quick and easy. I was quite impressed.

The Top 3

If you're looking to quickly create a map, and you don't want to look through all these services, stick to the top three:

1. Wayfaring

2. Mapicurious

3. Map Builder