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Do You Recommend Google Maps API or Microsoft Live Maps? 252

Posted by Zonk
from the two-options-many-permutations dept.
KSobby writes "The organization that I work for is going to be redoing our website in .Net/AJAX. On the site, our members will have profile pages listing where their organizations are located (our members are scattered throughout the world) as well as other pertinent information for the general public. It is a non-profit organization, so funds are tight. My question to you: If we include maps, which API do we go with: Google or Microsoft? We're in a Microsoft environment (we're non-profit and Microsoft basically gives us everything for free) but the ubiquity of Google may be enough to sway us. Has anyone used either extensively? Used them in conjunction with .Net?"
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Do You Recommend Google Maps API or Microsoft Live Maps?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:42PM (#20787689)
  • In my experience (Score:3, Insightful)

    by El Lobo (994537) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:47PM (#20787751)
    In my (little) experience the MS API is a lot clearer and "logical" to my .net trained brain than Google's. But in the end, my experience is that both work reasonable well, and leaving politics and idealogical issues aside, I would say, test both and choose the one you like more.
    • by MikeFM (12491)
      I haven't used the MS API but I've done lots of things with the Google API and have found it quite easy to use.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by EvilIdler (21087)
      In MY experience, I've found people write APIs over everything they don't find easy enough.
      For Google Maps, I've found a simple wrapper class that cuts down immensely on the code,
      and similar projects are bound to exist for .net. As others have mentioned, Google's
      maps work in pretty much any browser.
  • Compatibility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:47PM (#20787755)
    It's the same product, but Google maps works with more browsers. Sounds like an easy choice to me.
    • I founded a company back in the boom that merged with another one, the combined entity is now called deCarta (http://www.decarta.com/products/hws/hws_features_benefits.html). They provide mapping technology to Google.

      They also host services, just like Google does, that you can connect to via their API's. Those API's are made to be OpenLS compliant, AJAX friendly, and other good things.

      Disclaimer: I haven't written any code to work with their stuff, I haven't been with the company since 2003, I don
  • go with google (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:47PM (#20787757)
    I say go with Google. If their map system suddenly changes they'll at least be smart enough to include legacy support or do something remotely responsible and there's no way that their entire map system would just disappear. As for Microsoft, they change their names and systems more often than I change my pants and if suddenly all of that new Microsoft Live crap disappeared, nobody would be surprised at all. Just think how many new Microsoft inventions/projects/experiments there were that either didn't do well enough so they cut them or they did really well and they cut them anyway for who knows what reason.
  • Google Maps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EjayHire (860402) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:47PM (#20787761)
    In your situation, I would go with Google. The Live web services are really new, and they will evolve over time, especially if they follow the same model as MS other mapping software.. free -> bundled -> unbundled/not free. Between Microsoft and Google, who do you trust for backwards compatibility in a year or two?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Between Microsoft and Google, who do you trust for backwards compatibility in a year or two?

      Microsoft. It took me 4 hours to port our software to Vista, and that mostly had to do with a (nonMS) driver and a (MS) dll issue. The trick to MS backwards compatibility is to not use the undocumented shit. SimCity broke when they went to 95 (they actually installed a patch in the OS for it for compatibility reasons), because of undocumented "features". Case in point, the permissions that they set up in XP were

      • Re:Google Maps (Score:4, Insightful)

        by kripkenstein (913150) on Friday September 28, 2007 @06:00PM (#20788601) Homepage

        It took me 4 hours to port our software to Vista [...] The trick to MS backwards compatibility is to not use the undocumented shit.
        That might be true, but how is it relevant as a comparison to Google?

        The issue isn't Microsoft's desktop backwards compatibility issues (which is debatable in itself). Thing is, Windows and MSN/Live/etc. just happen to exist in the same company, otherwise, nothing is really shared between them. When you compare Microsoft to Google with respect to maps APIs, you need to compare Google to MSN/Live/etc., which has seen many name and strategy changes and is far less mature than Google's offerings. Google APIs are consequently more stable and less likely to change.

        A conservative approach will therefore recommend Google APIs. They are more seasoned, more tested, work on more browsers, and used successfully by far more organizations and businesses.
        • A conservative approach will therefore recommend Google APIs. They are more seasoned, more tested, work on more browsers, and used successfully by far more organizations and businesses.

          That might be true, but how is it relevant as a comparison of backwards compatibility?

          Google APIs are consequently more stable and less likely to change.

          Microsoft doesn't randomly revoke API access [slashdot.org]. So that would lead me to contend that Microsoft API's are more likely to be useful in the future, even if they change on occ

          • How is it relevant as a comparison of backwards compatibility? Directly: something that is older, more stable, and has far more users is less likely to change, hence less at risk for backward compatibility issues.

            Your second point is correct, Google did act suspiciously in that instance. They do not have a perfect track record. Still, given the overall situation, I would use Google's web APIs instead of Microsoft's - at this point in time. Perhaps in a few years Microsoft's offerings will mature well, wh
        • Google is doing maps and API because they think it is cool and are trying to allow others to build interesting things. MS's approach is using the maps and API as a way of breaking Google AND OSS. If the MS API is not helping to slow down Google and/or OSS within 1-2 years, they will massively change it. All in all, MS would stop all development except for the fact that OSS and competition is forcing them to copy to keep their monopoly. Me? I would go with Google. Of course, MS has forced that choice, by not
      • Certainly Microsoft (Score:2, Interesting)

        by holophrastic (221104)
        You are incredibly correct, and for so many reasons.

        If you're a business, doing real business things, you always want to go with Microsoft solutions. I've recently discovered the absolute incredible ease with which Microsoft handles business clientel -- i.e. me.

        Google owes you nothing -- you aren't Google's customer. They make no money off of you, nor anyone like you. They'll gladly ignore all of your wants and desires to please their profit centres -- and rightfully so, it's a business. Microsoft needs
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by e.colli (630500)
          Google maps are not free: http://www.google.com/enterprise/maps/index.html [google.com]
          • by Seanasy (21730)

            He doesn't need their Enterprise offering as long as the site is free. His only data is point data which the free API handles fine for his purposes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      Between Microsoft and Google, who do you trust for backwards compatibility in a year or two?

      Google... With the caveat that their 'backwards compatibility' will actually be 'have not upgraded/updated in two years'.
    • who do you trust for backwards compatibility in a year or two?

      Well, not MS, for sure. Almost each time someone from outside the company sends me some stupid MS Visio file, I need to find "who has latest Visio?", ask him to convert to PDF and send back to me. Funny, but time consuming.
  • Stick with MS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by everphilski (877346)
    Yeah, MS Virtual Earth (which is what Microsoft Live Maps is a derivative of) integrates with .NET... so stick with it and you can benefit from code reuse.
  • by LordSah (185088) * on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:48PM (#20787769)
    I've implemented a solution based on Live Maps, and I was pretty happy. Not having used Google's, I can't provide tit-vs-tat comparison, but I know enough to tell you that MS's API is intuitive and easy to pick up.
    • I did some fairly extensive work with google maps, and I can say that their API is very well documented.

      Personally, I wrote a local API for it in the language I'm working in, Water [waterlanguage.org], and let Water deal with all the Google stuff for me. By mixing Water's AJAX features with Google's map API, I was able to create a fully AJAX enabled map API which notifies the server about every user action on the map, including clicking, dragging, etc, and deals with user initiated actions in an object oriented manner (for exa
  • Ever heard of OpenStreetMap [openstreetmap.org] (Wikipedia [wikipedia.org])?
    Even though it is not complete in most regions, it sounds very promising imho. And it is free! [wikipedia.org] (as in freedom AND beer)
    • Re:OpenStreetMap? (Score:4, Informative)

      by nwf (25607) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:56PM (#20787901)

      Even though it is not complete

      I'll say. The entire city of Philadelphia is missing, and it's not exactly a small city. In fact, looking at the eastern US, it's pretty much useless at this point. Alas.

    • For your information, OpenStreetMap [openstreetmap.org] uses the OpenLayers.org API [openlayers.org] to render its maps. The two have very different purposes.
    • by Seanasy (21730)

      While I like what they're doing, this would require far more work than he needs to put into it. You might as well tell him to take the TIGER/LINE data, load it into PostgreSQL+PostGIS, write a geocoder, setup UMN MapServer and use OpenLayers in the web client. It's all Free! Of course he'll need to install Proj.4 if he wants to do any reprojections and he'll definitely need GDAL/OGR, FreeType, GD (or AGG if you want anti-aliasing).

      Don't get me wrong, I love all the Free Software out there for GIS on the

  • by Garrynz (904755) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:50PM (#20787803)
    About to make the switch to Microsoft Live Maps, I find Google maps to slow to load, if they load at all. Of course there isn't anything stopping you trying both and choosing the best that suits your needs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:51PM (#20787817)
    I recently discovered MapCruncher [microsoft.com] which is a super cool add-on for the Microsoft Virtual Earth API. Basically, if you have any of your own high resolution maps (like PDF of a floorplan or bicycle route or whatever) you can align it to Virtual Earth and MapCruncher writes the thousands of tiny image tiles needed to make your map easily browsable right on top of Virtual Earth. Google doesn't have anything like this. (Even though Google Earth has an "image overlay" feature, they have nothing that runs in the browser, plus it forces the user to download the entire overlay image instead of just the tiny pieces they're trying to view.)

    MapCruncher rocks!
    • Actually Google Maps overlays can be used from a browser. On top of that - they don't just have to be images. They can be anything you can do in a DOM object, so they can do whatever a web page can.

      A while back I implemented a system that would monitor the status of devices at various locations and each little overlay would make AJAX calls to the status server and change their image accordingly. On mouseover they could resize and include more in-depth info.

      Now I'm not saying it's an alternative to
  • by sp00 (639381) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:52PM (#20787831)
    Redfin did a decent writeup [redfin.com] at the beginning of the year when they were deciding what technology to use. It was helpful to read when I was making the decision for the company I work for. Some of the things they point out have changed/been fixed, but it's still a good overview.
  • If you're funding is tight... just use mapquest... here's a class i wrote for one of my apps to get the uri

    Public Class clsMapQuest
    Public Function getURI(ByVal sAddress As String, ByVal sCity As String, ByVal sState As String, ByVal sZip As String, _
    ByVal eAddress As String, ByVal eCity As String, ByVal eState As String, ByVal eZip As String) As System.Uri

    Dim url = N
    • by Applekid (993327) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:56PM (#20787909)
      I think your giant string-concatenating code makes baby Blaise Pascal cry.
    • congratulations on breaking slashdot
    • Ouch.

      Try this (sorry, no capital letters, typing out of my head):

      dim sb as new stringbuilder
      sb.append("http://your_long_url_but_possibly_broken_down_into_logical_parts_like_below")
      sb.append("&1g=&1pl=&1v=&1n=&1pn=")
      sb.append("&2y=US&2ffi=&2l=&2g=&2pl=&2v=&2n=&2pn=")
      sb.append("&panelbtn=2")
      sb.appendformat("&1a={0}&1c={1}&1s={2}&1z={3}", sAddress, sCity, sState, sZip)
      sb.appendformat("&2a={0}&2c={1}&2s={2}&2z={3}", eAddress
    • Dude, StringBuilder is your friend (in .Net). Man, if one of my programmers put that many string concats into one of our projects I'd have to have a word with him. Can we say "garbage collection hell"?
    • So, how about that Cross-Site-Scripting [wikipedia.org] then?
  • OpenLayers.org API ! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lord Satri (609291) <alexandreleroux@@@gmail...com> on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:59PM (#20787931) Homepage Journal
    Really. Don't want to get stucked by one of the numerous webmap providers? Use OpenLayers.org [openlayers.org]. OpenLayers, open source, will legally allow you to connect to Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and other providers' data and switch between any without ever changin your code. No jokes, this is the best choice. Of course, it allows you to do *much* more. Want to learn more [slashgeo.org]? Also, OpenLayers works perfectly with other widely used webmapping software, such as GeoServer.org [geoserver.org] and many others. See also the webmapping section over Slashgeo.org [slashgeo.org]. (Yes I'm one of the founders, but it's really on-topic! :-) Why not read this entry on the webmapping APIs and data access [slashgeo.org].
  • Do both. Seriously. (Score:5, Informative)

    by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:01PM (#20787955)

    If we include maps, which API do we go with: Google or Microsoft?


    Do both. Seriously.

    One of the oldest rules a downstream manufacturer (that's you) should follow is "avoid supplier lock-in". If you code with only one of these software titans in mind, you're subject to their terms. If you code for both, you can tell one vendor to zark off and/or play one rep against the other at pricing/ad-rev negotiation time.

    Oh wait - you're a small non-profit with free Microsoft software? In that case there's no reason not to go with Microsoft. Development in 100% Microsoft tools is better than anything Google has...
  • by nweaver (113078) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:02PM (#20787975) Homepage
    One of the really nice things about Google maps is the same API is used for google maps and google earth. Well, maps uses a subset.

    So you can easily do pretty-ultra-eyecandy that also works well when viewed just through the web.
  • Google Maps...but. (Score:3, Informative)

    by omibus (116064) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:04PM (#20787995) Homepage Journal
    I've used Google maps because of the more favorable licensing terms with google (you get more for less).

    But I would look around for an asp.net control that wraps the api. There was one on the code project that doesn't work anymore.

    Microsoft Live Maps might have a wrapped api for you that could reduce the development time.
  • by dynamo (6127)
    Who do you trust more? Microsoft, or Google?
  • Data (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kiaser Zohsay (20134) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:06PM (#20788031)
    Maps are all about accuracy. Microsoft has more coverage with high res imagery (I can see my house from here!) but some of their street data is several years out of date.

    For example [live.com], when I-74 was built, McKinney Road was re-routed to Hwy 601. The map has the correct positioning for I-74, but it still shows the old path of McKinney Road, even though the new path is visible in the image.

    On the other hand [google.com], Google shows the roads correctly, but you can't zoom in the imagery nearly as close.

    So its a matter of priorities. Do you want accurate or pretty?
    • by Teun (17872)
      You are restricting yourself to a small patch of earth.
      Google shows all of The Netherlands and Denmark in hi res, Microsoft barely recognises these countries.
  • by Bomarc (306716)
    With Google's new "change the route" - it's cool. Yahoo's maps (old) is better, the new one has issues with moving the maps around (It frequently wants to go back!).... Mapquest sucks (Honest Question: why does anyone use it? - have you seen any of the other map tools?) Yahoo maps also lets me type in notes when I print out the map to actually _drive_ somewhere.
    • by Almahtar (991773)
      MapQuest has been around since the 90's. That's probably the only reason a lot of people use it - it's had a long time to get its name out there before maps on the Internet were a very big deal.

      That's probably also why their stuff sucks - it's been around for ages. We're comparing an early web player to new web offerings.
  • Actually niether (Score:4, Informative)

    by mhollis (727905) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:17PM (#20788139) Journal

    I set up a website for a brick-and-mortar store about seven months ago on my Mac. I then went to Google's maps and provided a link for directions. Then Google quit working with Safari browsers. Now, I know Apple's browser has its problems and has so many that many Mac users are not using the Apple-supplied beta browser because of problems with their release version but I cannot afford for anyone to not be able to load a map due to a problem with someone's map API. So I switched the website to use Mapquest. [mapquest.com]

    Yes, I know that Mapquest is a slag-heap of a company since AO-Hell purchased it. I also know they're not innovating, they're just resting on their laurels and being used to provide AO-Hell with cash. But it works with all browsers I tested on Windows and Macintosh platforms, including some pretty obscure ones like iCab and Netscape's Navigator 2.0. Unless of until I get absolute assurances from Google that they'll never roll out new code again unless they test it first, I'm not using Google Maps for anything.

    Haven't tried Microsoft's. Probably won't either as they won't work well with Macs or Linux or Unix and I cannot afford to disenfranchise anyone.

  • Google (Score:2, Insightful)

    by spykemail (983593)
    I'm not going to tell you which one to go with because most of their merits have already been covered, but I will say this: you should not simply choose Micro$oft because you're already using a lot of their technologies. Look at the actual merits of each and choose that way - not by which company has a stronger death grip on certain markets.
  • by yelvington (8169) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:31PM (#20788289) Homepage

    The organization that I work for is going to be redoing our website in .Net/AJAX.


    This is sooooo 1999.

    You should be using a CMS/framework where such issues have been resolved, [drupal.org] and focus your time/energy on the (few) places where you can create unique value.

    • by deander2 (26173) *
      we had AJAX back in 1999?!? why didn't anyone tell me?!?!?

      oh yeah, that's right. we did. we just called it something else:
      "beat head against desk until something comes out"

      meh. =p
  • by hamoe (260438)
    I have not used Microsoft's mapping service, so evaluate it separately of course... however, I have a lot of experience with the Google Maps API. You can expect your code to keep on working, firstly. They recently added a number of features, and now you need to instantiate a GMaps2 class because they were concerned about their legacy users. Their API is extremely easy to use, and is intuitively set up. Go to their documentation [google.com] and check out some of the basic examples and look at the API docs for a minu
  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:36PM (#20788349)
    Do you need wider browser support than just Microsoft's IE?

    Google endeavors to support a much broader range of browsers than any of the Microsoft websites support. Give the users of what you are developing a choice, don't force them to use Microsoft's IE in order to take advantage of the functionality of your website.

  • It wasn't really specified in your question where the locations are.

    While google maps have satellite images all over the planet (and maps for many places) the time I tried both, Microsoft totally lacked any images of the country I live in now (Costa Rica).

    Since at the time I was working on a site that needed local satellite maps and some from other Central American countries I had to select google maps.

    Your mileage might vary, and in the last year MS maps might have changed.

    Just my 2c, if you are US only t
  • ... a "do no evil" vs. "root of all evil" question on /.?
  • Why not try them both? And whichever one you choose, see if you can make your software flexible enough that should a switch be necessary, it will affect as little of the app as possible.
  • I've used services that use MS-based maps, and Ive used services that use Google-based ones. Due to them working horridly if at all, I generally dont ever go back to the MS-based ones.

    If your goal is to provide a standards-compliant service that works well with a wide variety of clients, use Google.

    If your goal is to support Microsoft's goal of controlling and dominating everything to the exclusion of anything else, and to hell with compatibility or interoperability, then by all means use MS.
  • Do you have any client in Argentina?

    I don't know why, but it has no data (apart from satellite photos) for the country:
    http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=-35.56798,-65.126953&spn=24.428851,35.551758&z=5&om=1 [google.com]
  • MS may give you the apps for almost free by know that you are basically caged in by accepting. I've even heard that local libraries get cheap software from Microsoft but are restricted from using any open source software in the contract. Not sure if that is the same deal you got but either way, know you are in a cage when using Microsoft software. And just because you have company in there, it does not justify the fact you're still caged. IMO.

    also, WTF? You picked Microsoft because "everyone else uses...bla
  • Redfin dev blog (Score:4, Informative)

    by |/|/||| (179020) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:59PM (#20788591)
    Here's a comparison [redfin.com] that I saw a while back on the dev blog for redfin.com.
  • This information may have changed since early last year, so caveat emptor. I researched both for a project for our company. The project involved using one in an app that we would resell. We ended up scrapping the project, but we would have went with Microsoft Live for the simple reason that they were working towards offering an enterprise license that allowed us to resell. Google, on the other hand, never had an interest in talking to us about licensing and never deviated from the party line of "your se
  • Er, doing anything with dot-net...

    I know, what a lightning rod for the flame wars, but my position isn't without reason.

    Seriously, this platform is based on the idea that a person wanting to compile a program in a reasonably provable languages just cannot live without "system calls" written in visual basic. But having made that mistake, the question of which mapping API to use is valid.

    In terms of integration, you will be more happy using the MS maps API. I know this sight-unseen because I know some of th
  • "The organization that I work for is going to be redoing our website in .Net/AJAX"

    Welcome to a big, endless swamp that is web 2.0. Noone knows what it is, everyone talks about it.
  • by Megane (129182)

    I'd go with Google, and for one reason. Whenever someone gives me a Google Maps link, it works. Whenever someone gives me a MS Live Maps link, I don't get a map, I get some kind of "where do you want to go today" screen with two text entry boxes and no map.

    Maybe it's because I use Mozilla (if it works with Firefox, it should work with Mozilla), or maybe it's because I don't have a Live account (like I'd ever want to), but I haven't seen one link work yet. (Actually, I think it worked about two years ago wh

    • You know, somebody who read the rest of the thread and didn't read the article summary would think you were posting off-topic, because nobody else is talking about user experience. I guess it never occurred to anyone else.

      Commercial web sites must put customer experience near the bottom when it comes to mapping, because I mostly see second-rate map links on company web sites. Even image-sensitive brick-and-mortar business like restaurants usually provide crude and unusable maps. Every prospective custome
  • google because their european maps are much,much more detailed,
  • Just FYI, Google Apps Education Edition is free for non-profits. It's a step up from the normal apps, in that it includes 24/7 support, etc.
  • I used it knowing very little Javascript and got it working in a couple hours, a good chunk of which was "how do I find out what the lat/long of this place is?"
  • Honestly, I'd recommend Yahoo Maps. I like their API's the best, and the whole YDN network provides lots of bits for getting the job done.

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