Yahoo Launches PlaceFinder - Says Goodbye to Geocoding API

Adam DuVander
Jun. 23 2010, 02:13AM EDT

Yahoo has added to its suite of useful geographic tools with a brand new geocoder called PlaceFinder. This replaces Yahoo's old geocoding API and joins another 7 Yahoo mapping APIs in our directory for a total of 43 Yahoo APIs.

Here's how Yahoo describes the new geocoder:

PlaceFinder supports building-level address recognition in over 75 countries, and points of interest, airports, cities, and other place names (including administrative areas) for these countries and the rest of the world.

PlaceFinder has a name that sounds similar to Placemaker, though the functionality is slightly different. As we wrote when PlaceMaker launched, it adds geographic data to unstructured content (such as blog posts, new articles, feeds, and web pages). PlaceFinder, on the other hand, requires only the text of the location to be geocoded.

In addition to latitude and longitude coordinates, PlaceFinder returns many other pieces of data (Yahoo claims 32). This will especially be useful for reverse geocoding a location provided by a mobile device, rather than an address. For example, Yahoo returns a WOEID (where on earth ID) for the location, as well as the name/boundaries of the neighborhood. The latter likely comes from GeoPlanet (our GeoPlanet API profile), a dataset that many other APIs (including Twitter's GeoAPI) count upon.

With all these useful geo services, one has to wonder why Yahoo is not more of a force in the location scene. While it's mapping service is far behind its competitors, its terms are far more open. That's why TweetDeck chose Yahoo Maps for Geo Tweets.

While Yahoo has long been sharing data that others haven't, Google has started to provide many additional web services. Google's similarly-named Place Search, which debuts in July, geocodes addresses as well as performs business searches.

Adam DuVander -- Adam heads developer relations at Orchestrate, a database-as-a-service company. He's spent many years analyzing APIs and developer tools. Previously he worked at SendGrid, edited ProgrammableWeb and wrote for Wired and Webmonkey. Adam is also the author of mapping API cookbook Map Scripting 101.

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