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A Review of Online Mapping Sites: Summary Table

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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.

2 Responses to “A Review of Online Mapping Sites: Summary Table”

  1. Anonymous davey l 

    Nice page - Ive been wondering about the diff between these services for awhile...well, until google maps I guess - but from your review it is not really apparent that google maps is markedly different than most (if not all) the other map sites you reviewed.

    The neatest feaure of google maps is to be able to view airphoto images of the map you are looking at.
    And as far as I know, google is the only service that does this. And as handy as vector layers are for overview, an airphoto shows detail so much better. I mean, if you live in a decent-sized city in North America, chances are google has an airphoto image where you can actually see the roof of your house. Now THATS detail the other service cant touch.

  2. Anonymous dagurreotype 

    Yahoo Maps Beta now has the "airphoto" thing too, but with new photos than Google Maps, at least in my neighborhood. Google shows phase 1 of the development under construction, and we live in the nearly done phase 3. Of course the best birdseye view of our neighborhood comes from the city's GIS department's online maps.

    I hope you do another review once Yahoo Maps Beta launches - it's going to give Google some incentive to improve.

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