Mapping It Out

Introducing our restaurant maps and databank


By Robert F. Moss

Last week we published “The Ones We Lost,” a feature I wrote as part of the Southeastern Dispatch’s inaugural Charleston City Guide, which we are rolling out this month. In addition to being the first entry in the City Guide, it’s also the first story to incorporate a key capability of the platform: maps.

Like the platforms that other digital publishers use, our proprietary Firefly content management system (CMS) has all the tools we need to publish the text of articles and the images that accompany them. Behind the scenes, though, it includes a whole lot more, like a database of restaurants and other places that are mentioned in our various articles, including geolocation data (i.e. longitude and latitude based upon street address.)

This allows us to create stories that have maps embedded in them, and those embedded maps not only let you see where a particular place is located but enables a bunch of other handy features. For instance, if you are viewing a map location on a smart phone, you can click a button and have your phone give you directions right to the restaurant.

“The Ones We Lost’ is an example of a feature with an embedded map. If you’re on a standard computer with a monitor, the map and story text appear side by side. If you are on a small screen like a mobile phone, you’ll initially see the all the restaurants blurbs in a list view with text images and you can click the “View on Map” button to see them all arranged on an interactive map.

The irony is not lost on me that the first feature the we ended up publishing with an associated map is one that catalogs influential restaurants in Charleston that are no longer in business. But at least you can see where they used to be!

We can also use maps to display lists of restaurants that aren’t part of a text-based feature story. For example, if reading Stephanie Burt’s recent feature highlighting 7 Iconic Midlands Dishes made you hungry for a pimento burger, we could create a map of 5 Great Places to Get a Pimento Burger to help you track one down.

We are hard at work on getting the rest of the Charleston dining guide launched, and that will include plenty of maps with all sorts of great restaurants that are still open for business. We’ll continue to refine and expand the mapping and related functions as we build out the Southeastern Dispatch in the months to come. (Stay tuned for guided tours, for instance, and the ability to create and maintain your own bucket list of restaurants to visit.)

I’m pretty excited about capabilities like the restaurant database and maps because they let us accomplish two of the longer-term goals of The Southeastern Dispatch. First, they let us take advantage of digital technology to offer resources that are difficult if not impossible in a print format or with a typical web publishing platform. Second, they allow each of our stories and features to build on each other so that we aren’t just publishing one-off articles but rather building a rich repository of information about food and dining in the Carolinas, a repository that you as readers can draw upon down the road.

Stayed turned for more, and thanks again for being a subscriber to The Southeastern Dispatch.

This feature is available to subscribers only.

About the Author

Robert F. Moss

Robert F. Moss is the Contributing Barbecue Editor for Southern Living magazine, Restaurant Critic for the Post & Courier, and the author of numerous books on Southern food and drink, including The Lost Southern Chefs, Barbecue: The History of an American Institution, Southern Spirits: 400 Years of Drinking in the American South, and Barbecue Lovers: The Carolinas. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.