Putting QtWebKit to use with Google Maps

Hi there. This is my first blog post, so I guess introductions are in order; My name is Henrik Hartz, and work as a Specialist with Product Management in Troll^W Qt Software. In Product Management I do all kinds of stuff, ranging from working with requirements, specifications, product releases, meeting customers, thinking about the future of Qt, the list goes on.. Recently I've had the pleasure of focusing on WebKit.

WebKit is a fantastic technology. Being able to stick web content into your application is simply amazing, there's just about anything out there you can show! And, a lot of people know HTML, so making use of this to add content to your application enables you to (ab)use your Graphic Designer buddies.

But, WebKit is so much more than just a way to show HTML in your app. You can actually do anything a browser can - and much more! Experimenting with WebKit over the last couple of months I've made an example that a lot of people seem to be interested in; Using WebKit to host a Google Maps component.

I wanted to show where our offices are located in the world. So, I started with a simple QStandardItemModel that would read in addresses from a txt file. In the constructor, we read in the text file - using the first field of the comma separated line as the display role, and the rest as the address stored in the UserRole;

QStringList addressLines = address.split(",");

QStandardItem *item = new QStandardItem;

item->setData(addressLines.takeFirst(), Qt::DisplayRole);

With this model in place, we simply set it on the list view of our GUI design (yeah, I like using Qt Designer - it's fast!);

ui.treeView->setModel(new AddressModel(this));

In the GUI we've also placed a web view, which is pointed to a web page under our control. This page shows a Google Maps control. So here is the GUI with the address list and QtWebKit component;

GUI design

This doesn't do much on it's own - so we promote the QWebView class to a custom component "Map", defined by map.h in Qt Designer. This component has some additional services that allow us to update the map, specifically;

void geoCode(const QString &address);

What we want is to update the map based on the entries in the list view when they are clicked. We do this in a slot method connected to the clicked signal of my view. Here we can access the data of the item being clicked, extract the address and ask the map component to geo-code it;

void MainWindow::showItem(const QModelIndex &idx)
ui.map->geoCode( idx.data( Qt::UserRole).toString() );

The geoCode method will use QtWebKit's capability of calling JavaScript functions in the web environment. Here we'll use the Google Maps API to get Google to return a coordinate of the specified address in CSV format, using the asynchronous QNetworkAccessManager::get(const QNetworkRequest &request) API;

void Map::geoCode(const QString &address)
QString requestStr( tr("http://maps.google.com/maps/geo?q=%1&output=%2&key=%3")
.arg("GOOGLE_MAPS_KEY") );

manager->get( QNetworkRequest(requestStr) );

In another method connected to the QNetworkManager::finished(QNetworkReply*) signal, we parse out the coordinate returned in CSV format from Google, and pass it to a method which updates the map component appropriately;

void Map::loadCoordinates()
QStringList scriptStr;
< < "var map = new GMap2(document.getElementById("map"));"
< < "var bounds = new GLatLngBounds;"
< < "var markers = [];"
< < "map.setCenter( new GLatLng(0,0),1 );";

int num=-1;
foreach( QPointF point, coordinates ) {
scriptStr < < QString("markers[%1] = new GMarker(new GLatLng(%2, %3));")

< < "for( var i=0; i
< < " bounds.extend(markers[i].getPoint());"
< < " map.addOverlay(markers[i]);"
< < "}"
< < "map.setCenter(bounds.getCenter());";

this->page()->mainFrame()->evaluateJavaScript( scriptStr.join("n") );

In the final call, we tell QtWebKit to evaluate the JavaScript we have synthesized, and the web view updates with the appropriate location;

Qt Software Address book

The snippets shown here are simplified to some extent, but you can find the complete source code here. Please remember to put the HTML for the map component on a server you control - and replace the GOOGLE_MAPS_KEY with your own key (you need to register and bind to a domain for it to work) in both map.cpp and index.html.


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