Google Releases Maps API v2

John Musser
Apr. 04 2006, 12:15AM EDT

Yesterday Google officially released version 2 of their Maps API (some testers have had this earlier). What's new? API-level updates include:

  • JavaScript download is about 50% smaller
  • On 'overview map' that displays a mini collapsible map in corner
  • Greater extensibility for custom controls, overlays and map types
  • Fewer memory leaks and a handy debugging window

Still, no geocoding service yet for converting addresses to latitude and longitude, as Yahoo! offers.

But more interestingly, especially in light of yesterdays launch of Placebase are the new "friendlier" terms of service (TOS):

  • No page view limits (over 500K/day and they'll want you to give them a heads-up)
  • 90-day notice before any advertising related change

For more, read their blog post or view the new documentation. For more on the TOS changes, they've nicely highlighted them in red here.

John Musser

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Note Yahoo!'s geocoder is USA only. Google's is worldwide. If they can parse the address into a unique location, you get a Long/Lat. This works beautifully for UK postcodes and even quite unstructured place names. The problem is that their terms don't allow you to scrape the lat/long out of the html and javascript. Still works though.

BTW. I'm sick to death of clever Web 2.0 geo services that are USA only. :-( Come on guys, design for global from the start.

Speaking about geocoders I may assume that Yahoo! provides the best one. I love it because it works for both US and Canada and it has well engineered communication protocol with multiple geocoding results support. As far as Yahoo! has some restriction to use theirs API in commercial applications and 5K daily limit, I started looking for alternative for Yahoo geocoder…and I have hard time finding good geocoder to feet my needs.

Here’re some issues about existing geocoders. Single country (US or Canada) support only. It’s not a big dial to use 2 separate geocoders for US/Canada addresses but different API and communication protocol drives me crazy. I do not want to have N ‘ifs’ in my code and do not want to have N classes to support API calls for N countries.

It would be great if those companies who provide geocoding API will use the some kind of “standard� API calls and return “standard� result set. That problem was discussed by David Berlind on his StandardsForApiDocumentation session during Mashupcamp (http://www.mashupcamp.com).

Here’s my evolution in geocoders APIs using:

- Started with geocoder.us

- Added geocoder.ca support.

- Switched to Yahoo! Geocoder - stopped using geocoder.us and geocoder.ca

- Right now evaluating ontok http://www.ontok.com/wiki/index.php/Geocode as API for commercial use.

Phillip

The day Yahoo opens up international support of their geocoder will be a big day indeed. Right now it seems like a lot of crickets chirping over in the Yahoo camp, but rumours swirl about a new AJAX API which will support overlays, have international support, and some crucial bug fixes that have plagued their original release.

The biggest sign of Yahoo's coming international support was their purchase of this company last year: http://www.whereonearth.com/

Phillip

Andrew -

About the Yahoo Geocoder, the 5k limit only applies if you are using the REST geocoder, and the limit is on the IP address. The ability to add points to the map by using an address does not have the same limitations.

There's mention here of Yahoo Geocoder!. I have used it on my site. But there is also Yahoo's Local Search API, which I have used it in a just finished mashup at http://www.mibazaar.com/education (Top Business Schools in US as reported by US News and World Report). It uses Google Maps (v2) + Yahoo Local Search API. I feed in the University Name + zip code to Yahoo Local Search API and it in turn sends back Geocoding info.