I have recently been given an assignment to build an applet map. The applet must consist of a map of any area, real or imaginary and a GUI. The GUI must have a search facility and the user must be able to click within the map and have a point / dot drawn to screen with a text box appear giving the distance to the closest feature in rainge.

I am not asking for help to solve this atall, that would be quite foolish! I quite understand how to implement these features - what I would like to ask is for a place to go to begin learning how to build the map in 3D (this is NOT one of the criteria of my assignment, I just want to learn this). Now I know about sun.com, but I find the information there quite difficult to implement for the very first time. So any kind of basic starting point would be fantastic - or examples for that matter.

Thank you in advnace for any help you can offer, I greatly apprechiate it.