This is the last part of a 9 part series reviewing online mapping sites. Click here for the introduction to the series.
All of the online mapping services reviewed offer essentially the same product: a map showing location or a set of directions. Some offer better directions than others but, for the most, there is little separating them but appearances and useability. Appearances are often a matter of taste - something that Maporama
has recognized with its plethora of map style options. Useability is essential when the task is to offer quick maps and directions. In this area Google Maps / Local
does well. The single search box is ideal - no clicking on dropdown boxes to select a country or tabbing to the next box to complete the field.
What online mapping serivce is used depends alot on user habit. Yahoo! Maps
had the largest market share this past summer
but there is nothing unique about it to recommend it over other services. Similarly, I will continue to use Google Maps / Local
for quick directions in spite of the fact that the lack of data layers other than roads - especially minor water features - annoys me.
Below are a series of tables that indicate what each of the online mapping sites offer.
(Apologies for the gif versions of the tables; Blogspot doesn’t seem to like tables.)Table 1: Search Interfaces
* Canada and the United States are lumped together; the rest of the world is treated differently. † Saved searches appear on a page other than the start page.
‡ Apparently a number of the online mapping serivces offer latitude and longitude search but in my web travels this was not obvious.Table 2: Map Display
* Can only save as gif in static mode.
† Geo here means geographic projection. In the cases where it varies, it is not always obvious what projection is being used except for, perhaps, the smaller scale zoom levels.Table 3: Data Layers
* Minor water features - both lakes and rivers - show up only as signle lines.
† Greenspace does not appear in all locations.
‡ Golf courses are identified but not explicitly so.Table 4: Directions
* Units used depends on the starting point (e.g. United States = miles, Canada = kilometres)
† Either miles or kilometres can be selected prior to searching for directions.