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November 17, 2003 01:32 AM

Broken: Pasting Yahoo Maps directions

Kerah Pelczarski writes:

Yahoo! Maps driving directions use "R" and "L" images instead of plain text for right and left.

Please see or attached image.

This is bad because when you copy and paste the directions in order to sync them to a PDA, the all-important right and left directions are missing. A 50/50 chance of going the right way isn't quite good enough. ;)

Here's the text from the above example:

1. Starting at the center of zip code 94043 on LINDA VISTA AVE - go < 0.1 mi
2. Turn   on W MIDDLEFIELD RD - go 0.4 mi
3. Turn   on MOFFETT BLVD - go 0.3 mi


Son of a... I was bitten by this exact problem this weekend, and didn't notice until I was driving. The solution is to use the Text-only directions, which then give you directions written out:

"Turn Left on HIGHLAND AVE - go 1.2 mi"

Posted by: Paul at November 17, 2003 08:59 AM

Something is broken here---but it's not Yahoo! Maps---it's your browser's cut and paste feature. Yahoo is trying to improve the usability of their directions by making the symbols for left and right turns more distinctive then the rest of the text. Current web standards require that they use an image to achieve this effect, so they include the appropriate ALT text for browers that do not display images or visually impared users. Cut and paste should respect and include this ALT text. If they did, you would not have had a problem.

Posted by: Robby at November 17, 2003 01:09 PM

Interesting. I tried this out in Mozilla 1.4, which I would have expected to show the correct behavior, but instead found that it didn't work either. Very strange, since I remember it working in older builds; but apparently this is a known bug.

Personally, I see more of a problem in that the "icons" are letters in circles; that could just as easily have been accomplished using text with a CSS background image. And why *circles*? Why not left and right arrows, which would have the added benefit of aiding those of us who always get our directions confused?

Posted by: codeman38 at November 17, 2003 10:46 PM

It used to be arrows, but in usability tests *in the field* the R and L was more easily read by a driver who was looking at a printout sitting on his passanger seat or what have you.

Anyhow, passed along the feedback. Yahoo! Maps has been going more css everyday, I'm sure the sharpshooters on maps can come up with a cut 'n paste friendly solution.

Posted by: christina at November 18, 2003 11:03 AM

why dont you just solve that problem and go to its a lot better.

- Gus -

Posted by: Gus at November 20, 2003 12:17 AM

It's probably rooted in a copyright issue, its very easy for somebody else to write a routine that "screen scrapes" from MapQuest to give driving directions.

For instance, say theres a fictional "" that simply relays your address info to, then just reprints the directions on "" without MapQuest's banners...

Or it could be like one of the other commenters that its easier to read when trying to simultaneously read the directions AND look for what street to turn on

Posted by: Eric Newton at December 1, 2003 09:02 AM

Incidentally, re-reading this thread, I see that I may have been a bit vague. My idea was to combine the arrows *and* the letters-- i.e., show an "R" inside a right arrow or an "L" inside a left arrow. That way, it's convenient both for passengers reading the directions to someone else and for directionally-impaired drivers...

Posted by: codeman38 at December 23, 2003 02:15 PM

And for what it's worth, this has been fixed in the most recent versions of Mozilla, Netscape and Firefox.

Posted by: codeman38 at August 29, 2004 12:05 PM


Posted by: lisya gon at December 16, 2004 05:05 AM

Looks neat! Aint got the bread!!!

Posted by: Xon Gonimovich at December 28, 2004 02:06 AM

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