The MapBlast! service is gone but not forgotten.

August 2005

The MapBlast! online mapping service was provided by Vicinity Corporation, beginning at least as early as 1996, and was used by us to provide locator maps for site data pages from when we began this work in January 1997.  Later we added a few area locator map pages, based on an alternate version of the MapBlast service, and were planning to build more of them.  However, in 2002-2003, several significant changes were made to the MapBlast service, causing major problems for us.  We responded with various workarounds, including the use of other online mapping services.  In 2003, Microsoft Corporation purchased Vicinity Corporation and terminated the MapBlast services entirely.  The MapBlast domain name now points to MSN Maps.  Some attempts to follow old MapBlast links led to a Microsoft MapPoint page which bore the notice which is reproduced here:
  MapBlast! Site Notice

As Vicinity Corporation is now part of Microsoft Corporation, we have combined MapBlast! with MSN Maps & Directions (  Our goal is to merge the best content from each site and continue providing you with fast and accurate mapping and trip planning free-of-charge.  The MapBlast! Web site is no longer supported.  You are now encouraged to use the MSN Maps & Directions Web Site.

In spite of those fine words, Microsoft's online mapping services do not provide several of the features of the MapBlast! online mapping service which were highly valuable to our site locator maps and area locator map pages.  The last valid content of this Usage Hints page has been left online so that visitors may judge for themselves the truth of that assertion.
The following foreword for this page was added in 2002:

This page was originally written when MapBlast provided all of our locator map services.  That included both site locator maps, linked from site data pages, and area locator maps, embedded in separate area locator pages.  Since MapBlast withdrew the service which provided dynamic site locator maps, we are now using the MapsOnUs service for those maps.  Most of these MapBlast hints are therefore useless as this point; they are being retained in case that service is restored.

Usage Hints for the site and area locator maps
based on the MapBlast! service

Need help? Want advice? Pick a question . . .

Just curious? Read all the answers in order . . .

Why do I see a "Welcome" page instead of a map page?

The online dynamic mapping service which we use (see answer to following question) has changed its business model since we first began to use it, and will no longer display dynamic maps to anyone who is not a properly logged-in registered user.

To log in, you must enter your MapBlast registered userid and password in the appropriate fields on a MapBlast window.

To get a free registered MapBlast userid if you don't yet have one, click the "Register now" link in the upper right corner of the MapBlast Welcome page, and follow the instructions which will be presented.

To be properly logged in, you must have "cookies" enabled for the domain "" (or for all domains), so that MapBlast can verify your logged-in status for each map you wish to display.

Once you are a registered user, and have displayed a map, you can click on a "My MapBlast" tab to access a variety of customization options.  The most useful of these map be to set your default map size to make the best use of your monitor's actual screen size.  You'll have to experiment with it to see what works best for you.

What's "MapBlast!" ?

MapBlast! is an online dynamic mapping service which is provided at no cost to the Guild by Vicinity Corporation.

Why are these usage hints important?

The excellent online help which is provided by the MapBlast! service is aimed at the general user and explains all aspects of that service.  This page which you are now reading explains how we use that service.  It also emphasizes what controls are especially useful in this context, and warns about what you should not do while viewing a locator map which we have customized.  In a few instances, it expands on the MapBlast help.

What is all the stuff around the map?

Assuming that all of the MapBlast! parts are neatly laid out on your screen (if they aren't, see the next answer), here is what you will see:

Why is all that stuff scattered helter-skelter across my screen, and not arranged neatly around the map?

Probably you are using an old Web browser (e.g., Spry Mosaic 2.0) which doesn't support more recent additions to the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) that is used to build Web pages.  Without "tables" capability, the map will still be readable, but the MapBlast! controls will fall into such strange places that it may not be obvious how to use them.  (But they do still work.)  If you get a newer Web browser with "tables" capability (e.g., Netscape Navigator 3.0 or newer), then all of the MapBlast! controls associated with the map will be laid out nicely around it.

Generally we avoid using tables, frames or other newer features of HTML in order to present site data in the most readable possible form to the widest possible audience.  MapBlast! is an exception to this principle because it is so useful and because it doesn't reside on our Website.

Why do different site maps have different icons?

The icons which indicate site locations on the maps have been chosen to reflect how accurately we know just where each site is actually located.

In the first two cases, the icon will be accompanied by a label which has the same text as the heading on the left just above the map.  In the third case, that text will appear in the signboard icon itself.

Why are there street addresses at the top of some site maps but not others?

We only show street addresses (or street intersections) on a site map when MapBlast! was able to use that information to place the locator icon.  So you won't see it on any maps where the icon is a red "X" (see above), and you will see it on only some of the rest.

How can I get a different view of the site surroundings?

MapBlast! has a lot of options to customize the map to meet your particular needs without losing the benefits of our customization.

What other map controls are available?

MapBlast! has additional options to customize the map, but at the risk of losing the information we have provided in the initial display.

The location marker (icon) on the map is in the wrong place; how can I help fix it for future visitors?

If you really do know more than we do about where the marker should be, please help:

I tinkered with the map controls too much, and now I'm lost.  How do I get back to the original version?

Use the "Back" feature of your Web browser to back up one screen at a time.  (This may be a menu selection or a toolbar button.)  Or use its "History" feature to jump directly to the site data page or the initial map.  The second alternative is quicker, but then you might be unable to use "Back" to work your way further up your history tree, depending on how your browser handles its history function.

Why isn't the map embedded directly in the site data page?

We could have done that--MapBlast! makes such an operation possible.  However, we chose not to do so for the following reasons:

Why aren't the multiple maps on area locator pages combined into one?

If you use Vicinity Corporation's online mapping services through some other Website (e.g., Blockbuster), you will find that Vicinity does indeed have the capability to place many icons on one map.  However, that placement is done by Vicinity Corporation for a fee, using a database supplied or maintained by Vicinity's customer (e.g., Blockbuster).

For understandable commercial reasons, Vicinity Corporation does not support such complex functions in its free MapBlast! service.  It does allow placement of up to four icons on one map, and we utilize that capability to make each site locator map serve as an area locator when there are other towers in the general area of the one being located.

The Guild, being a small non-profit organization, cannot afford to purchase the full-scale commercial service.  Therefore, in the relatively few areas where a concentration of sites makes an area locator advisable, we have adopted the multi-map expedient.  When there are more than four sites in an area, such as a metropolis, they are subdivided by type (carillons, chimes, rings) into compatible groups of not more than four sites.  Each group is then displayed on one of a set of identical maps, to make it possible to relate them to each other easily.  (By the time all of the North American chime pages are installed, even this expedient will not suffice in a few areas.)

If this does not satisfy your needs, we would be happy to accept a large enough donation to the Guild to enable us to use Vicinity's commercial services.  We could certainly put it to good use.

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This page was created 1997/02/07 and last substantively revised 2002/09/03, shortly before the demise of MapBlast; the last editorial revision since then was on 2015/01/08.

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