10 Most Popular Mapping APIs

Looking to add mapping features to an application? Developers can choose through a variety of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Software Development Kits (SDKs) to add navigation, routing, traffic and route optimization, street images, custom maps, 3D and augmented reality, indoor mapping, weather maps, localization and other mapping related features to applications.

The ProgrammableWeb API directory is a good place to start when finding the perfect mapping APIs. The Mapping category has more than 1000 APIs profiled, plus hundreds of mapping articles including tutorials. In this article, we are highlighting those mapping APIs that garner the most user visits on ProgrammableWeb. Below are the top ten most popular Mapping APIs according to reader traffic.

1. OpenStreetMap API
OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a world map, crowdsourced from volunteer contributors, which offers released map data under a free and open license. The OpenStreetMap APITrack this API provides read and write operations on the raw map data of the OpenStreetMap database. It is actually primarily for OpenStreetMap editing software. There are many other developer tools in and around the OpenStreetMap ecosystem, including a JavaScript web mapping Library (LeafletJS), downloadable map data from planet.openstreetmap.org, and the OpenStreetMap Overpass APITrack this API, a read-only API that serves up custom selected parts of the OSM map data.

OpenStreetMap is editable by users, and data is available via API

OpenStreetMap is editable by users, and data is available via API. Screenshot: OpenStreetMap

2. Google Maps APIs
Google Maps' services have been split into multiple APIs, including the Google Directions APITrack this API, which calculates directions for traveling between locations programmatically, and Distance Matrix APITrack this API, which allows developers to get travel distances and times for a matrix of origin and destination points. Other Google Maps APIs include Static Maps APITrack this API, for embedding maps into apps, Places API, which returns information about a establishments, a geographic location, or prominent point of interest, plus the Street View Image APITrack this API, Elevation APITrack this API, Geocoding API, Geolocation APITrack this APITrack this API, Roads APITrack this API, and Time Zone APITrack this API.

3. Waze API
Waze is a socially-driven navigation system that is owned by Google. As more drivers use Waze, the navigation becomes more efficient. The Waze API offers indirect service to the Waze Transport Android SDK and the Waze Transport iOS SDK. These Wave Javascript SDKs are available so partner developers can retrieve driving data including ETA and routing points, navigation and fastest routes, traffic insight, and more.

4. GeoNames API
Geonames is a geographical database with web services that let users extract useful information about different places, such as weather, timezone and post codes. The GeoNames database covers all countries and contains over eight million placenames that are available for download free of charge. Users can edit, correct and add new names using a wiki interface. The GeoNames APITrack this API uses RESTful protocol and responses vary in format between XML, JSON, CSV, and TXT.

5. Bing Maps Locations API
The Bing Maps Locations APITrack this API can be used to get location information associated with map coordinates. The API also provides functionality to get coordinates for a location based on values such as postal code and address and also get coordinates for a location provided in a query string. The API uses both REST and SOAP protocol and responses are formatted in XML and JSON. Bing Maps also provides the Isochrone APITrack this API so developers can determine a travel-time or travel-distance polygon for the area to reach, using time-specific or distance specific isolines, plus the Elevations APITrack this API, Search APITrack this API, Location Recognition APITrack this API, and several others.

6. MapQuest Geocoding API
MapQuest is an online web mapping service with tools for driving directions, maps, live traffic, and road conditions. The MapQuest Geocoding APITrack this API allows users to find the geocoordinates (latitude/longitude) of a location based on a provided address. Additional features include reverse geocoding, batch geocoding, viewport biasing, thumbnail images, and more. Requests can be submitted as key-value pairs, JSON, and XML.

7. Metropix API
Metropix is a supplier of floor plan based products for the real estate market. Its products include 2D and 3D indoor mapping models, basic floor plans, and Google Earth 3D models among others. The Metropix APITrack this API enables users to access floor plans, create a new floor plan, print, edit, query property info, and other functions. The service is available in both REST and SOAP protocols depending on Integration needs.

Metropix API

Screenshot: Metropix

8. Foursquare Places API
Foursquare is a location data Platform and mobile application. The Foursquare Places APITrack this API provides location based experiences with diverse information about venues, users, photos, and check-ins. The API supports real time access to places, Snap-to-Place (assigns users to specific locations), and geotagging. Additionally, Foursquare allows developers to build audience segments for analysis and measurement. JSON is the preferred response format.

Foursquare API

Screenshot: Foursquare

9. OpenWeatherMap APIs
The OpenWeatherMap API provides map layers, current and historic weather conditions, alerts and more for developers to build maps that include weather data. The service is now is encompassed in several APIs including: Current Weather DataTrack this API, 5 Day Weather ForecastTrack this API, 16 Day Weather ForecastTrack this API, Historical DataTrack this API, History BulkTrack this API, Weather Map LayersTrack this API, Ultraviolet IndexTrack this API, Weather StationsTrack this API, Weather AlertsTrack this API, Air PollutionTrack this API, and Accumulated Weather DataTrack this API APIs.

10. Google Earth Engine API
The Google Earth Engine APITrack this API allows developers to run algorithms on georeferenced imagery and vectors stored on Google's infrastructure. The Google Earth Engine API provides a library of functions which may be applied to imagery for display and analysis. Earth Engine's data catalog contains a large amount of publicly available imagery.

Introduction to planetary-scale geospatial analysis with Google Earth Engine. Video: YouTube/Google Developers

For more developer resources, check out the ProgrammableWeb Mapping category, which currently contains more than 1000 APIs, 590 SDKs, and 282 Code Samples.

Be sure to read the next Mapping article: Google I/O: 5 Tips to Improve Your Google Maps Development Skills