Google has released a new geocoding web service that is sure to bring a smile to map mashup developers working with the Google Maps API. Announced this week on the Google Geo Developers Blog, version 3 of the popular geocoding web service has been released, with several improvements and new features that will make it easier geolocate addresses. The new geocoding web service shares many of the geocoding improvements included with v3 of the Google Maps API:
- A flatter response format for address components that is easier to parse
- The ability to tag an address component with multiple types
- Both full names and abbreviations for countries and states
- Differentiation between rooftop and interpolated geocoder results
- Both the bounding box and recommended viewport for each result
As with the previous version (which is now deprecated), the new version of the geocoding web service supports reverse geocoding and it provides a RESTful API that returns results in either JSON or XML. The latest set of documentation includes additional discussion of the address component types and feature geometries returned with each result. Note that in contrast to the v2 service, the new geocoding service does not provide an accuracy "score" attribute, but rather results with a set of address components (e.g., intersection, postal code, etc.) and a location type for the feature geometry that indicates the accuracy and precision (e.g., rooftop, range interpolated, geometric center, etc.).
Perhaps one of the most exciting new features is the elimination of the need to use an API key to issue requests to the geocoding service (although URL signing is required for Maps API Premiere customers). In lieu of the API key requirement, new geocoding request limits are also in effect, with a 2,500 daily request limit per IP address. If you're unsure about the best approach to using client-side versus server-side geocoding Mano Marks has a recent post that outlines some good strategies.
This is a nice and worthwhile improvement to a valuable web service that map mashup developers have come to rely on for a variety of needs. We're looking forward to seeing how developers leverage the new service for the thousands of map mashups out there that use the Google Maps API.