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Which Maps API Should I Use?

Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft maps

Google Maps is the mashup mainstay, but it’s not the only game in town. You may prefer the deep red color of Yahoo Maps freeways or the bird’s eye view in Microsoft Live Earth.

My advice to those new to mapping is always the same: go with Mapstraction. It’s not an API itself, but a wrapper for about a dozen other mapping services. You can write once with Mapstraction and switch providers later on.

Say you choose Google Maps now (and most of us do). Down the line if Google chooses to put ads on the map, for example, you’d be able to switch to Yahoo with minimal changes to the underlying code.

There are some downsides to using Mapstraction. It is built to work with many providers, meaning that Mapstractions features can only be those shared by all mapping platforms. When Google releases a hip new feature, that might not be immediately available in Mapstraction. Nevertheless, for most common mapping projects, this won’t be an issue.

Get started with Mapstraction by reading my Mapstraction tutorial at Webmonkey.

Category: How-tos

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28 Responses

  1. [...] for a particular project, but something else might be better for another project. With mapping APIs Mapstraction fixes this issue, but shouldn’t providers get together and standardize on their own? Watch my presentation [...]

  2. [...] Mapstraction started working on a new, improved version of the open source wrapper library. This is the mapping API I recommend because it allows developers to write code once that works on any mapping provider. Also, I use [...]

  3. [...] today at SXSW Interactive in Austin. In it, I showed some simple ways to improve your maps, from using Mapstraction to custom map markers to changing the entire map [...]

  4. [...] Maps. And since then, it’s gone from fun little toy to extremely useful tool. And while I appreciate all mapping APIs, it’s important to note this milestone for the influential platform. Let’s look where [...]

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Adam DuVanderHi, I'm Adam. I'm writing a book about developing maps on the web. This site is where I'll share the things I find and help you create your own maps. Find out more.

Map Scripting 101