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Image Maps Anyone?

Wednesday 17 December, 2003 ( 4:40PM GMT)

The map and area tags are bizarre little creatures.

I used to think that image maps - images with various clickable links mapped to areas on it - were for people who didn't know how to make web sites properly, that is, with the mentality of shoving a big image on a page and then slapping links all over it.

I'm not as dismissive as that any more, not quite, but I can't say that I've come across that many good uses for image maps and I've certainly not implemented one in years (although there was one big commercial website I was working on recently that employed an image map containing several graphical text links in a remarkably insane fashion).

The tags certainly seem completely unnecessary, especially when there are much better ways to go about doing such things.


Comment 1

I think that image maps still have there uses. In an example such as the one in the A List Apart article. I think the CSS method is better because it's actually a normal navigation system that because of the design would lend itself to using an image map to do. Implemented using CSS is a good solution in this case because the navigation can then be restyled to look totally different if need be.

On the other hand, image maps that are used as a visual aid to help a user find some infomation (eg. A clickable map of the world) is a totally different matter. In this case the use of image maps is the most appropriate because its conveying a meaning and is a helpful visual aid to users.

The advantage of using an image map in this case is that an area can be non-retangular so it can match the irregular shape of a country for example. This is not possible using CSS.

I do think its important to distiguish between the correct and incorrect use of image maps but I think they do have they're place in HTML.

So said Dan Webb on Thursday 18 December, 2003 at 10:52AM GMT.

Comment 2

Okay, yes, thinking it through there are more valid uses for image maps than I first gave credit for. These valid uses, as I see it are for very specific detailed images that require non-rectangular selectable areas (because rectangular areas can be better handled with CSS, as already mentioned), such as a map of the world, as Dan says.

So said Patrick on Thursday 18 December, 2003 at 8:49PM GMT.

Comment 3

The real strength of that technique is NOT how to build an image map without using <map> & <area> tags - that's a pretty pointless exercise when you have all the same functionality built-in to (X)HTML. The point is that you can take a <ul> and style it as an image map, where appropriate, and something else where not. Expect to see a few clickable image maps in the CSS Garden sometime soon!

So said Chris Hunt on Tuesday 23 December, 2003 at 2:38PM GMT.

Comment 4

image maps are a wonderful technique to provide links on an image. by this we can best describe what we are trying to say.

So said Andrew Moll on Wednesday 6 October, 2004 at 5:36PM GMT.

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