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Activate the Google Static Maps API

To get you started we'll guide you through the Google Developers Console to do a few things first:

  1. Create or choose a project
  2. Activate the Google Static Maps API
  3. Create appropriate keys
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Styled Maps

Customize the presentation of the standard Google map by applying your own styles when using the Google Static Maps API. You can change the visual display of features such as roads, parks, built-up areas, and other points of interest. Change their color or style to emphasize particular content, complement surrounding content on the page, or even hide features completely.

Examples

The following example displays a map of Brooklyn, US, with styling to color the local roads bright green and the residential areas black. It also inverts the lightness of the labels, so that they stand out better against a dark background. Note that this working example uses URL encoding:

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/staticmap?size=512x512&zoom=15&center=Brooklyn&style=feature:road.local%7Celement:geometry%7Ccolor:0x00ff00&style=feature:landscape%7Celement:geometry.fill%7Ccolor:0x000000&style=element:labels%7Cinvert_lightness:true&style=feature:road.arterial%7Celement:labels%7Cinvert_lightness:false&key=YOUR_API_KEY

The following example uses styling operations and simplifications to approximate the look of a US road atlas:

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/staticmap?size=512x512&zoom=12&center=Chicago&format=png&style=feature:road.highway%7Celement:geometry%7Cvisibility:simplified%7Ccolor:0xc280e9&style=feature:transit.line%7Cvisibility:simplified%7Ccolor:0xbababa&style=feature:road.highway%7Celement:labels.text.stroke%7Cvisibility:on%7Ccolor:0xb06eba&style=feature:road.highway%7Celement:labels.text.fill%7Cvisibility:on%7Ccolor:0xffffff&key=YOUR_API_KEY

Style syntax

To create a customized styled map, include one or more style parameters in the request URL.

Each style declaration may contain the following arguments, separated by pipe characters ("|"):

  • feature (optional) indicates the features to select for this style modification. Features include things on the map, like roads, parks, or other points of interest. If no feature argument is present, the specified style applies to all features.
  • element (optional) indicates the element(s) of the specified feature to select for this style modification. Elements are characteristics of a feature, such as geometry or labels. If no element argument is present, the style applies to all elements of the specified feature.
  • A set of style rules (mandatory) to apply to the specified feature(s) and element(s). The API applies the rules in the order in which they appear in the style declaration. You can include any number of rules, within the normal URL-length constraints of the Google Static Maps API.

Note: the style declaration must specify the above arguments in the order stated. The following example gives the correct syntax for a feature and element selection with two rules:

style=feature:myFeatureArgument|element:myElementArgument|myRule1:myRule1Argument|myRule2:myRule2Argument

Features

The following style declaration colors all roads on the map:

style=feature:road|color:0xffffff

Here are some common feature selections:

  • feature:all (default) selects all features of the map.
  • feature:road selects all roads on the map.
  • feature:road.local selects all local roads.

Features, or feature types, are geographic characteristics on the map, including roads, parks, bodies of water, businesses, and more.

The features form a category tree, with all as the root. If you don't specify a feature, all features are selected. Specifying a feature of all has the same effect.

Some features contain child features you specify using a dot notation. For example, landscape.natural or road.local. If you specify only the parent feature, such as road, the styles you specify for the parent apply to all its children, such as road.local and road.highway.

Note that parent features may include some elements that are not included in all of their child features.

The following features are available:

  • all (default) selects all features.
  • administrative selects all administrative areas. Styling affects only the labels of administrative areas, not the geographical borders or fill.
    • administrative.country selects countries.
    • administrative.land_parcel selects land parcels.
    • administrative.locality selects localities.
    • administrative.neighborhood selects neighborhoods.
    • administrative.province selects provinces.
  • landscape selects all landscapes.
    • landscape.man_made selects structures built by humans.
    • landscape.natural selects natural features.
    • landscape.natural.landcover selects landcover features.
    • landscape.natural.terrain selects terrain features.
  • poi selects all points of interest.
    • poi.attraction selects tourist attractions.
    • poi.business selects businesses.
    • poi.government selects government buildings.
    • poi.medical selects emergency services, including hospitals, pharmacies, police, doctors, and others.
    • poi.park selects parks.
    • poi.place_of_worship selects places of worship, including churches, temples, mosques, and others.
    • poi.school selects schools.
    • poi.sports_complex selects sports complexes.
  • road selects all roads.
    • road.arterial selects arterial roads.
    • road.highway selects highways.
    • road.highway.controlled_access selects highways with controlled access.
    • road.local selects local roads.
  • transit selects all transit stations and lines.
    • transit.line selects transit lines.
    • transit.station selects all transit stations.
    • transit.station.airport selects airports.
    • transit.station.bus selects bus stops.
    • transit.station.rail selects rail stations.
  • water selects bodies of water.

Elements

The following style declaration colors the labels for all local roads:

style=feature:road.local|element:labels|color:0xffffff

Elements are subdivisions of a feature. A road, for example, consists of the graphical line (the geometry) on the map, and also the text denoting its name (a label).

The following elements are available, but note that a specific feature may support none, some, or all, of the elements:

  • all (default) selects all elements of the specified feature.
  • geometry selects all geometric elements of the specified feature.
    • geometry.fill selects only the fill of the feature's geometry.
    • geometry.stroke selects only the stroke of the feature's geometry.
  • labels selects the textual labels associated with the specified feature.
    • labels.icon selects only the icon displayed within the feature's label.
    • labels.text selects only the text of the label.
    • labels.text.fill selects only the fill of the label. The fill of a label is typically rendered as a colored outline that surrounds the label text.
    • labels.text.stroke selects only the stroke of the label's text.

Style rules

Style rules are formatting options which are applied to the features and elements specified within each style declaration.

The following style declaration applies two style rules to the roads on the map. The first rule applies a color to the roads. The second rule simplifies the display of the roads, so they have thinner lines without outlines:

style=feature:road|color:0xffffff|visibility:simplified

Each style declaration must contain one or more operations separated using the pipe ("|") character. Each operation specifies its argument value using the colon (":") character, and all operations apply to the selection in the order in which you specify them.

The following style options are supported:

  • hue (an RGB hex string of format 0xRRGGBB) indicates the basic color.

    Note: This option sets the hue while keeping the saturation and lightness specified in the default Google style (or in other style options you define on the map). The resulting color is relative to the style of the base map. If Google makes any changes to the base map style, the changes affect your map's features styled with hue. It's better to use the absolute color styler if you can.

  • lightness (a floating point value between -100 and 100) indicates the percentage change in brightness of the element. Negative values increase darkness (where -100 specifies black) while positive values increase brightness (where +100 specifies white).

    Note: This option sets the lightness while keeping the saturation and hue specified in the default Google style (or in other style options you define on the map). The resulting color is relative to the style of the base map. If Google makes any changes to the base map style, the changes affect your map's features styled with lightness. It's better to use the absolute color styler if you can.

  • saturation (a floating point value between -100 and 100) indicates the percentage change in intensity of the basic color to apply to the element.

    Note: This option sets the saturation while keeping the hue and lightness specified in the default Google style (or in other style options you define on the map). The resulting color is relative to the style of the base map. If Google makes any changes to the base map style, the changes affect your map's features styled with saturation. It's better to use the absolute color styler if you can.

  • gamma (a floating point value between 0.01 and 10.0, where 1.0 applies no correction) indicates the amount of gamma correction to apply to the element. Gamma corrections modify the lightness of colors in a non-linear fashion, while not affecting white or black values. Gamma correction is typically used to modify the contrast of multiple elements. For example, you can modify the gamma to increase or decrease the contrast between the edges and interiors of elements.

    Note: This option adjusts the lightness relative to the default Google style, using a gamma curve. If Google makes any changes to the base map style, the changes affect your map's features styled with gamma. It's better to use the absolute color styler if you can.

  • invert_lightness (if true) inverts the existing lightness. This is useful, for example, for quickly switching to a darker map with white text.

    Note: This option simply inverts the default Google style. If Google makes any changes to the base map style, the changes affect your map's features styled with invert_lightness. It's better to use the absolute color styler if you can.

  • visibility (on, off, or simplified) indicates whether and how the element appears on the map. A simplified visibility removes some style features from the affected features; roads, for example, are simplified into thinner lines without outlines, while parks lose their label text but retain the label icon.
  • color (an RGB hex string of format 0xRRGGBB) sets the color of the feature.
  • weight (an integer value, greater than or equal to zero) sets the weight of the feature, in pixels. Setting the weight to a high value may result in clipping near tile borders.

Style rules are applied in the order that you specify. Do not combine multiple operations into a single style operation. Instead, define each operation as a separate entry in the style array.

Note: Order is important, as some operations are not commutative. Features and/or elements that are modified through style operations (usually) already have existing styles. The operations act on those existing styles, if present.

The hue, saturation, lightness model

Styled maps use the hue, saturation, lightness (HSL) model to denote color within the styler operations. Hue indicates the basic color, saturation indicates the intensity of that color, and lightness indicates the relative amount of white or black in the constituent color.

Gamma correction modifies the lightness over the color space, generally to increase or decrease contrast. Additionally, the HSL model defines color within a coordinate space where hue indicates the orientation within a color wheel, while saturation and lightness indicate amplitudes along different axes. Hues are measured within an RGB color space, which is similar to most RGB color spaces, except that shades of white and black are absent.

Hue, saturation, lightness model

While hue takes an HTML hex color value, it only uses this value to determine the basic color - that is, its orientation around the color wheel, not its saturation or lightness, which are indicated separately as percentage changes.

For example, you can define the hue for pure green as hue:0x00ff00 or hue:0x000100. Both hues are identical. Both values point to pure green in the HSL color model.

An RGB Color Wheel

RGB hue values which consist of equal parts red, green and blue do not indicate a hue, because none of those values indicate an orientation in the HSL coordinate space. Examples are "#000000" (black), "#FFFFFF" (white), and all the pure shades of gray. To indicate black, white or gray, you must remove all saturation (set the value to -100) and adjust lightness instead.

Additionally, when modifying existing features which already have a color scheme, changing a value such as hue does not change its existing saturation or lightness.

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