ZeeMaps Performance Improvements and Monitoring

To improve the performance of ZeeMaps, we’ve added some hardware and improved our software.
In addition, we are making ZeeMaps performance monitoring publicly available through a third-party monitoring site (Pingdom) that you can see at: http://status.zeemaps.com. When you visit the performance overview page, click on any of the individual pages for response time metrics. This status page is on a different server than ZeeMaps, so it is also a good URL to check in case ZeeMaps access is not working for you.

Response time Report for ZeeMaps: Last 30 days

Our goal continues to be to give you the best performance for your maps, regardless of the number of markers, or data on the map.
From the Pingdom reports, you’ll see that we are getting sub-second response times for all monitored pages, including map pages.
Pingdom only monitors the response time to fetch an HTML page from the server. It does not include the additional time spent by the browser in fetching auxillary pages, services, and the time spent in the browser to parse and load the javascript files. Therefore, your maps will be loading slightly slower than what Pingdom reports, which can also vary depending on your location, browser, and computer.
Our dynamic map servers are located in the east coast of the US. For static content, we use a reputable CDN (content delivery network) to bring you fast access, no matter where you are.
In our offices in Cupertino, CA, on a recent Mac Mini with Safari, we’ve been seeing 4x response times to what Pingdom reports. If Pingdom reports an average of 500 ms we are observing 2 second load time. Given the complexity of the application, and the number of services that we depend on, including Google Maps, a few seconds of load time is a reasonable map page load time. Let us know in case you are experiencing higher page load times, and we’ll be happy to investigate.
ZeeMaps pages that do not include maps, e.g., our home page or blog, will load much faster and will be in line with what Pingdom reports.
Sometimes, using a different browser can help. Recently we worked with a user where she got much better page load times using Mozilla’s Firefox instead of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. That may not be the case in all situations, but do try different browsers in case you notice slow load times for maps.

Secure access, radius regions, and updated Google Maps

Along with several improvements, today we  introduce some major new features for ZeeMaps:

  1. Secure https access,
  2. Radius Regions, and
  3. Updated Google Maps.

You can now access ZeeMaps using the https protocol. Google Ads will still show using the http protocol, so you may get warnings of mixed content in IE. To remove the mixed content warnings, please upgrade your account for an ads-free experience.
ZeeMaps already provides several region coloring mechanisms such as: hand-drawn, colored cities, states, countries, congressional districts, and so forth. In addition, we now support coloring a circular region on the map with a specified distance radius. Use ¬†“Additions -> Radius Region” menu item on your map to draw a circular region on your map.
We have upgraded to the most recent version of Google Maps. You should see improved imagery and better speed across the board.
While we have tested thoroughly, there may be a few lingering inconsistencies or problems. Please let us know if your maps are not working as before.

Up to 500% speed boost for published maps

After months of work, we are pleased to announce that we’ve made significant improvements to our published map code, resulting in up to 500% performance boost, and a refreshed look-and-feel.
The functionality of published maps should remain the same, while things have changed under the hood. Since this is major code change, please review your published maps and let us know if you notice any problems.
Similar changes to maps with the admin interface are coming soon.

Clustering markers for improved performance

ZeeMaps supports marker “clustering” for improved performance. Clustering groups nearby markers into “clusters” and shows them as small blue circles, instead of the individual marker. Since the map display does not have to draw as many markers, the display performs faster, with less visual clutter.
In the past we’ve automatically added marker clustering to maps with more than 100 markers. Over the years, Google Maps marker performance has improved, and 100 markers is no longer a good threshold. In fact, with our progressive display technology, even 1000’s of markers is okay to display without clustering.
From now on, therefore, we are removing the automatic clustering of markers. If you want to cluster markers for improved visualization or speed, please use the “Settings -> Markers -> Group nearby markers” menu command to enable marker clustering on your map.
We’ve revised the settings such that when you create a map and it reaches 400 markers, the markers will automatically be set to small markers. When the map reaches 1000 markers, the map will automatically be set to use clustering. You can undo these effects using the Settings -> Markers menu item.
With this new mechanism maps with even less than 100 markers can enabling clustering to reduce visual clutter.

To speed-up maps with many entries, start map with no markers!

With a new feature in ZeeMaps, you can set your map to display with no initial markers. Use the menu item Settings->Display and then check the box that says

On initial map display, do not show markers that have a legend entry (Fast!)”

This will result in a map that does not show any markers initially when that marker belongs to a group with a legend value. The user can then click on the legend value at the bottom of the map, to see the markers belonging to that legend. In case there are markers with no legend value, they will still show up in the initial display.
For example, here’s a map with over 1500 entries that displays fairly fast on initial display and then you can click on a legend value to see only markers belonging to a certain group.

For maximum effect, please note:
  • Each marker group (identified by a legend) should not have more than a couple of hundred markers
  • You should turn off marker clustering by using the Settings-Markers-Do not group markers close to each other
  • You may want to use smaller markers using the Settings-Markers-Use small markers