The Google Maps announcement in 2005 blew my mind. Doing anything with maps online had been near-impossible before then and suddenly there was this new thing, built with brand-new techniques like AJAX request and tiled maps. Even better: It came with a free API for embedding maps in your website!
I was keen to use Google Maps for something and got to work on what ended up being my first open source project. At the time, I was in my first year of university after graduating from high school as a member of the my newly founded school’s first group of alumni. The school’s online community I had co-created had geographically distributed members (the alumni) for the first time and I had already experimented with various static user maps. A few hundred lines of PHP later and after posting instructions for how to add your latitude/longitude to your user profile and we had an interactive user map!
Our online community was a heavily customized version of phpBB, and my next goal became to make this Google Maps integration available as an addon for other phpBB users. phpBB “mods” (modifications) were source code patch files that a phpBB board administrator could apply on top of the phpBB source code. Atlas Mod was such a mod and included the user directory map, a user profile location picker widget, and admin portal tools for managing the integration and performing the initial database migration.
I maintained Atlas Mod for a year or so before I could no longer keep up with the upgrades to Google Maps API v2 and phpBB 3.0. An early version of Atlas Mod was one of three winners of the 2005 phpbb.de MOD Contest (the prize was a 15€ Amazon voucher). In 2008 another phpBB community member with the excellent name Happy Döner released a new version of Atlas Mod. Thanks to the Internet Archive I was able to resurrect the screenshots of the Atlas Mod website below, but sadly none of Atlas Mod itself.