44 Mapping APIs

John Musser
May. 30 2007, 03:02PM EDT

So in keeping with this week's mapping theme, if you look at APIs sorted by type on ProgrammableWeb you can see there are now 44 APIs in the mapping category. That's a lot of mapping-related APIs and constitutes nearly 10% of all the APIs listed at ProgrammableWeb. They may not all be what you expect. Here's a breakdown for you:

  • The big players: The ones you expect. Google Maps API, Yahoo! Maps API, Microsoft Virtual Earth API, AOL MapQuest API (and not to forget GIS encumbent ESRI ArcWeb).
  • Commercial competitors: Pushpin is a an enterprise-friendly licensed offering with advanced GIS features such as custom layers along with Google API compatibility. The BigTribe API provides a service for location-based advertising. The deCarta API, formerly Telcontar, offers many features of interest to commercial applications like routing. The Where2GetIt SlippyMap API offers a JavaScript-free way to code maps. GlobeExplorer offers this API with access to the world's largest database of aerial and satellite imagery.
  • Specialized startups: Use the GeoIQ API for rich data visualization that builds on top of Google Maps. The HopStop API lets you integrate mass-transit and walking directions into your own website. For neo-geographic, social community mapping there's the Platial API or the WayFaring API. If you want maps that understand neighborhoods you could use the Urban Mapping API. Share your location and discover others nearby with the Plazes API. Get 3D mapping capabilities with the Poly9 FreeEarth API. Or, a bit more unusual is the Where's Tim API that let's you track the location of Tim Hibbard 24x7.
  • Open Source tools: OpenLayers open source JavaScript mapping library initially developed by MetaCarta. If you want to write a single set of code that spans multiple mapping APIs you might want to try Mapstraction, a JavaScript library that provides a common API to Google, Yahoo! and others.
  • Geocoding services: to turn addresses into latitude and longitude: geocoder.us, geocoder.ca, Ontok and Yahoo! Geocoding (note that Google and others now offer geocoding within their own mapping APIs).
  • Government sponsored: This includes APIs like the USGS Elevation Query Service from the Geological Survey returns the elevation in feet or meters for a specific latitude-longitude point. NASA provides mapping images via their satellite image API.
  • Regionally focused: The European mapping leader is the Multimap, down under in Australia and New Zealand there's the Whereis API and ZoomIn API, and in Korea you'll want to use the Naver Maps API. There's also the Nearby.co.uk geocoding API and also for the UK is the iShareMaps On Demand API that geocodes UK addresses to a postcode level.

There are many thousands of maps mashups out there and we're now up to a catalog of 1100+ map mashups listed here.

Geo-anything is clearly a hot segment of the online web services space.

John Musser

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[...] ProgrammableWeb.com » Blog Archive » 44 Mapping APIs gives a breakdown of the mapping related APIs. It's helpful to have a conceptual framework for approaching this fast-growing area of mapping APIs, especially if you want to look beyond the Google maps API. [...]

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