Sometime this week, Donavon West will release a Gadget for Windows Live Maps, one that lets you quickly select an area on the map and view traffic conditions in major cities. I’ve been running it since last night, and here’s my screenshot gallery and first detailed look at the Gadget.
Installing the Gadget is standard, with the exception of one little thing:
If you look closely (and click on the screenshot to view it larger in Flicr and see what I mean), the Gadget asks you if you want to change the default search engine in your browser to Windows Live Search. This makes me think the Gadget is an official Windows Live Gadget, commissioned by them for Donavon West to create. Anyway, just click “No” and you get to choose your city:
There’s an options dialog, where you can change your default city, see the version, and turn on and off the auto-updater.
Cities available right now are based on Live Maps traffic data, so they are:
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Oklahoma City
- Salt Lake City
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- St. Louis
- Washington D.C.
Here’s what it looks like at the closest zoom:
There are three zoom levels, which makes sense since if you zoom in too much, you’ll only get to see a small portion of your commute. You might want to start at the farthest zoom, then work your way in at trouble areas close to where you’ll be heading, seeing where the traffic is and what to avoid.
Here’s what you see when there’s some bad traffic, with red meaning worse conditions than yellow, obviously:
When you pull your mouse over to the left, there are some buttons that appear:
You can use them to zoom in or out, see more detailed traffic reports at Windows Live Maps, get driving direction at Windows Live Maps, and search the map, again at Windows Live Maps. I’m hoping future versions of the Gadget let you do these things without launching a web browser, perhaps in a fly-out windows.
Also, if you pull the Gadget off the Sidebar, it gets much bigger, letting you see much more of the map. This is one view where an extra zoom level or two would have helped, but it’s still great to use.
Verdict: Excellent Gadget, a must-install for anyone making heavy use of the Sidebar that faces a good commute to work. You put in a few choice Sidebar Gadgets, and you can scan your screen in seconds before you leave for work and be totally prepared, with this Gadget making sure you don’t sit in traffic for hourse. I wonder if it’ll be made Sideshow compatible, because that would be a godsend. Great work, and I recommend downloading it as soon as it becomes available.