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Mapping APIs – Google Maps vs Bing Maps: Part 1 Introduction

Over the last few months there has been a large increase in the interest in mapping API’s for developers to use on their own websites. The two major worldwide players in this battle are Google with their Google Maps API and Microsoft with their Bing Maps API (formally Virtual Earth). We often read articles and tweets from people claiming that one or the other is clearly better, and we are tired of reading one-sided ill-informed debate on these comparison issues.

bingvsgoogle

So today we start a new blog series on comparing the two mapping APIs as objectively as possible and hopefully with a number of you readers contributing your own information and opinions. Let’s start by openly saying that although here at Earthware we are API agnostic and try to use the best API for each individual project. However, mainly due to a focus on property in the UK where Bird’s Eye is often a clear differentiator in deciding on the best API, we definitely have more experience and involvement in the Bing Maps API.

We will try and evaluate various parts of the mapping APIs on mostly objective measures with some clearly marked opinions from us and you the reader (via comments). We WILL NOT be declaring an overall winner because it’s neither possible nor helpful to do so (we believe the right API depends on a lot of variables specific to each client and project), we will leave that up to you.

What will we be comparing?

Just so it’s clear from the outset, we will be comparing:

  1. The ajax / javascript developer APIs for Google Maps and Bing Maps
  2. Each platforms’ overall performance
  3. Developer support with documentation and communities
  4. Licensing
  5. The state of the platforms right now (Jan 2010) not their historical features and performance

What we won’t be comparing:

  1. Google Earth or Bing Maps 3d
  2. The main Google maps or Bing maps websites (these are developer APIs)
  3. Aerial coverage in one location or during one time period (more on that later)
  4. Unreleased or road-mapped features

How to get involved

We are really keen to get you our readers involved and to collect and add your ideas, information and informed opinions to the debate. If you have any feedback you wish to make, or ideas for what you’d like to see compared please add your comments below.

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