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As you’ve probably heard, Facebook recently registered its one billionth user. This astounding milestone means that nearly 15% of the world’s population now has access to a nifty new web service based on Nokia Maps. Created by Technologies Evangelist, Simon Madine, gives your Facebook timeline a very distinctive and a very personal look. To find out more we caught up with our maps man in Berlin.

So, Simon, you’re a Technologies Evangelist. What does that involve on a day-to-day basis? 

Well, a fair bit of my time is focused internally helping arrange things like Tech Talks where Nokia Maps developers present the latest cool and interesting things they’ve been working on. I also represent Nokia in external tech community events such as user groups or ‘hackathons’. These are events where a group of developers get together to prototype and build tools around various open web technologies.

Most often, myself and my colleague, Max Marcon, get involved in these events to try and explore ways we can showcase Nokia Maps APIs. The most recent event we attended was Nodecopter where we got to spend a day using JavaScript to try and teach a flying robot how to do 360° panorama images and then position them on a map.

What exactly is, why did you create it and how do people use it?  

 A little while ago, Facebook introduced timeline cover images where you could upload a large image to appear at the top of your Facebook profile page. Naturally, my first thought was “Maps!” so I uploaded a Nokia Map centered on Berlin (where my office is based). After a couple of people comment that they like it, I realized I could make it into a fun little web service where people could do this automatically.

When you sign in to with your Facebook account, it shows you a map the same size and shape as the Facebook cover image with your profile picture in the bottom left. It tries to centre on your current location but you can search for anywhere. Once you’re happy with the map position, the next step allows you to choose between different map tile styles – standard, terrain, public transport networks, etc. When you’ve picked a style you like, another button press will upload the image to Facebook and ask you to confirm that you want to set it as your profile image. 

Sounds great! How difficult was it to do and how does it relate to your work?  

The entire application is built using our public APIs and doesn’t require anything beyond the information you can find out by using the API Playground. The first iteration took no longer than about 45 minutes. Most of that was spent reading the Facebook documentation. In my work, I do a lot of ‘rapid prototyping’ where I have to quickly build a simple version of an idea to explore how it could work as a full product so I did have a bit of experience building things like this.

Simon makes it all sound so simple. Happily, using really is a piece of cake. To see for yourself why not go and have a play around. Once you’ve Nokia Maps-ified your Facebook timeline, we’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.