Now, you can create maps in-game, with the ability to select just how “zoomed in” you want it to be, he [surl=http://notch.tumblr.com/post/4988431144/the-maps]explains[/surl].
Each map will be centred on the location where you craft it – and as you explore the land, it will fill itself in. If you go outside the map’s borders, it’ll stop updating, so it should work something like a real map!
Also like a real map – if you drop yours, someone else can pick it up and see your progress.
Not at all like a real map, Notch is also hoping to (“somehow”) clone maps so that multiple map items will show the same data. The current plan is to have each person showing up “as blinking dots or similar” on the maps, something like a heads-up display.
Even if you don’t want to play around with cartography, it looks like this will be a good development for the Minecraft universe. Notch explains:
At the moment the map doesn’t work at all in multiplayer, but that’s my next task. The code I write to support that will also be possible to reuse in the future for things like books and notes written by players, and possibly even custom paintings/hand drawn signs.
Sounds like it’s still early days yet, there is no expected release date for the 1.6 update for Minecraft at the moment, but we’ll keep you posted.