Maps Without Maps Shows Off Google's Styles

Ask someone what makes a map and you're likely to hear that it's the roads or the physical characteristics. A new mashup is questioning whether you can still have a map without these details, while at the same time showing off the map styles feature that Google Maps announced in May.

Perhaps Maps Without Maps isn't that useful, since it's missing those elements that so many consider a map prerequisite. But it's pretty fun to drag around and zoom in on areas you think you know, with only the city names (and some highway labels) visible.

The site achieves the effect thanks to a new and mostly unused feature of Google Maps. The map styles feature uses CSS-like syntax within the map's JavaScript, so that you can change colors of the map. Or, selectively show and hide portions of the map, with about two dozen options to choose from. Of course, in the case of Maps Without Maps, it means making almost every element invisible.

Google isn't the only mapping provider to allow styled maps. CloudMade provides a style editor which provides even more options in a point-and-click interface.

Hat tip: Mike Duffy and Kottke

Be sure to read the next Mapping article: Bed Bug Mashup Lets You Find a Good Night's Sleep