HTML <map> Tag: Usage, Attributes, and Real-World Examples

By Cristian G. Guasch •  Updated: 09/25/23 •  9 min read

Diving right into the world of HTML, we’ll find an abundance of tags, each with its unique role in crafting web pages. One such tag that’s intriguing and perhaps a bit underused is the HTML <map> tag. This tag has a lot to offer when it comes to enhancing user interaction.

Now you might wonder, what exactly does this mysterious <map> tag do? Well, I’m glad you asked! The <map> tag is used to define an image map; an image with clickable areas known as hotspots. These can link users to different destinations or simply display additional information when clicked or hovered over.

Let me assure you, understanding and using the HTML <map> tag isn’t rocket science. Over the course of this article, we’ll delve deeper into its usage, attributes and see some illustrative examples. With these tools at your disposal, you’ll be certain to add another feather in your web development cap!
Diving right into the heart of web development, today I’m going to unpack the HTML <map> tag. This handy element is a potent tool for creating clickable areas (also known as hotspots) on an image map. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds, so let’s break it down together.

The HTML <map> tag essentially enables you to turn specific parts of an image into links. When used in combination with the <area> tag, these ‘hotspots’ can be shaped like rectangles, circles or even polygons! Here’s a simple code snippet to illustrate:

<img src="planets.jpg" usemap="#planetmap">
<map name="planetmap">
  <area shape="rect" coords="34,44,270,350" href="mercury.html">

In this example, clicking on a rectangular area in the ‘planets.jpg’ image will take you to ‘mercury.html’. The coords attribute specifies the coordinates of the hotspot.

But beware common pitfalls while using this tag! One common mistake is forgetting that coordinates start at 0 from top left corner of an image. So when defining your “coords”, remember that they’re relative to that point.

Another trouble spot can be browser compatibility issues. While most modern browsers support HTML <map> tags just fine, some older ones might not. So it’s always wise to check how your page looks across different browsers.

It may seem complex at first glance but once you get a hang of it, the HTML <map> tag opens up new possibilities for interactive web design. After all, who wouldn’t love a webpage where images are more than just static pictures?

Exploring the Attributes of HTML <map> Tag

Diving right into the heart of our topic, let’s explore the attributes associated with the HTML <map> tag. To start off, it’s essential to know that there are two main attributes we’ll be focusing on: name and id. Now don’t get me wrong, while they might seem similar at first glance, each plays a unique role in your coding journey.

The name attribute is used to identify image maps. It’s like giving a name to your pet; it helps you distinguish one map from another. For instance:

<map name="workmap">
  <!-- Areas here -->

In this example, ‘workmap’ is the name assigned to this particular image map.

Moving onto the next attribute – id. This chap serves as a unique identifier for an element within a document. Though not mandatory for every <map> tag usage, it becomes crucial when you’re dealing with complex codes where specific targeting is required.

<map id="homemap">
  <!-- Areas here -->

Here’s something important to note though – make sure both ‘id’ and ‘name’ values start with a letter or underscore (not digits or special characters)!

Now many coders often confuse between these two attributes and end up using them interchangeably which can lead to errors. Remember folks: while both may serve identification purposes, ‘name’ applies specifically to image maps whereas ‘id’ targets elements within documents.

So that’s about it! By understanding these two key attributes of HTML <map>, you’re one step closer towards mastering your web development skills! Go ahead and experiment using different names and ids in your code – remember practice makes perfect!

Effective Usage of the HTML <map> Tag

Diving right into it, the HTML <map> tag is a versatile tool in web development. It’s used to create clickable areas on an image, often referred to as an “image map.” These image maps can drastically improve user interaction and engagement with your website.

Let’s take a look at how it works. The <map> tag is paired with the usemap attribute within the <img> tag. For example:

<img src="myImage.jpg" alt="My Image Map" usemap="#myMap">
<map name="myMap">
  <area shape="rect" coords="34,44,270,350" href="destination.html">

In this code snippet, we’ve set up an image map using the usemap attribute and defined an area within that map where users can click to be redirected to another page (destination.html).

There are a few attributes associated with the HTML <area> tag which you’ll find useful when making an image map:

One common mistake I see frequently is forgetting to include both opening and closing <map> tags. Remember that unlike some other HTML elements like <img>, <br> or <input>, the <map> element isn’t self-closing!

Another pitfall lies in not optimizing your coordinates properly – if you’re defining multiple areas in your image map, make sure they don’t overlap unless you want them to. Overlapping areas can lead to confusing user interactions and unexpected navigation.

In conclusion, the HTML <map> tag offers a great way to add interactivity to your website images. It’s not always necessary, but when used correctly it can greatly enhance your site’s user experience. As with any tool though, it’s crucial that we use it wisely and avoid common mistakes in implementation.

Real-World Examples of HTML <map> Tag Implementation

Delving right into our topic, let’s consider an online store. It’s common to see interactive images on e-commerce websites. For instance, a picture of a model wearing different accessories. When you hover over the accessory, it reveals more information about the product. This is done using the HTML <map> tag.

Here’s how:

<img src="model.jpg" usemap="#outfit">
<map name="outfit">
  <area shape="rect" coords="50,50,100,200" alt="Necklace" href="necklace.html">
  <area shape="circle" coords="200,59,30" alt="Watch" href="watch.html">

In this example, hovering over specific coordinates (the necklace or watch) takes users to a new page with detailed info about that product.

Another practical application can be seen in infographics or interactive maps. For example:

<img src ="worldMap.png" usemap="#countries"> 
<map name ="countries"> 
  <area shape ="poly" coords = "124,58,8..." alt= "USA" href= "usa.html"> 

This time around we’re guiding users through an image map of countries. Clicking on a particular country will redirect them to a page dedicated solely to that nation.

It’s crucial though not to overlook some potential pitfalls when implementing the <map> tag.

A common mistake involves forgetting to link the <img> and <map> elements correctly via usemap and name. The value assigned must match between these two attributes; otherwise your clickable areas won’t function as expected:

<img src ="worldMap.png" usemap="#world"> 
<map name ="countries">

<img src ="worldMap.png" usemap="#countries"> 
<map name ="countries">

The <map> tag implementation may appear daunting initially, but with a little practice, you’ll master the art of creating interactive images that will significantly enhance user experience on your web page.

Conclusion: Mastering the HTML <map> Tag

Mastering the HTML <map> tag isn’t too complex, it just requires a bit of practice. It’s an essential tool in your arsenal as a web developer, allowing you to create interactive and user-friendly image maps easily.

Let’s take another look at how it works:

<img src="planets.jpg" usemap="#planetmap">
<map name="planetmap">
  <area shape="rect" coords="0,0,82,126" href="sun.html" alt="Sun">
  <area shape="circle" coords="90,58,3" href="mercury.html" alt="Mercury">
  <area shape="circle" coords="124,58,8" href="venus.html" alt="Venus">

In this example above we’ve created an image map that highlights three areas – a rectangle for the Sun and two circles for Mercury and Venus. Each area is clickable and leads to a different webpage when clicked.

There are common mistakes I’ve seen people make while using the <map> tag. One of them is forgetting to include the # before their map name in the usemap attribute. Remember that without this small but crucial detail your map won’t function properly!

Here’s another thing worth noting: always ensure your coordinates match with your desired area on the image. If they don’t align correctly it can lead to confusion for users who may click on one area expecting something else entirely.

As we’ve discussed earlier in our article series:

Get comfortable with these attributes and you’ll be creating effective image maps in no time. Practice makes perfect, so don’t shy away from experimenting with different shapes and coordinates in your own projects to see what works best.

Remember to keep the user experience at the forefront of your mind when designing these maps – make sure they’re intuitive and easy to navigate for all users. This is a powerful tool when used correctly, so take the time to master it!

Cristian G. Guasch

Hey! I'm Cristian Gonzalez, I created HTML Easy to help you learn HTML easily and fast.

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