Google, Yahoo Woo Developers to Online Maps

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2005-06-29 Print this article Print

The rivals release APIs for allowing developers to layer information onto the competitors' mapping services, but the companies take different technical approaches.

Google and Yahoo have opened a new front in their online mapping battle: winning over developers. Both companies on Wednesday released APIs into their respective online mapping services as they attempt to attract other Web sites to use their maps. While they are focusing on how developers can overlay information on maps, the companies are taking different technical approaches.
Google is targeting developers who want to embed its maps into their sites using JavaScript, while Yahoo is focused on tapping RSS for the creation of custom maps that continue to reside on the Yahoo Maps site.
Competition among online map services has become increasingly intense this year after Google entered the space and as attention has turned to more closely tying maps with local search. Click here to read more about the war of the "worlds" growing between Google and Microsoft. For its API, Google Inc. is offering a toolkit for developers who want to create applications that interact with the Google Maps system. The Google Maps API works in conjunction with Googles street maps and not the satellite images built into the service, a Google spokesman said. While the Mountain View, Calif., company wouldnt offer details, it hinted at the possibility of inserting ads within the maps on other sites. The maps also will include a Google logo and link to the Google Maps site. Yahoo, of Sunnyvale, Calif., is letting developers layer geographic content such as weather reports, school district boundaries and vacation photos onto its maps. The Yahoo Maps API uses the GeoRSS format in order for developers to add geographic content onto a map, said Jeremy Kreitler, a Yahoo senior product manager. "Were trying to encourage people to bring online as much local information as possible, and one of the barriers to people doing that is having to learn a specific way to talk to software or to build applications themselves," Kreitler said. Yahoo also has created an extension to GeoRSS that can understand street addresses as an alternative to providing the latitude and longitude coordinates typically required in GeoRSS, Kreitler said. The Yahoo Maps API extends a technology Yahoo calls SmartView to developers. Yahoo already uses SmartView to add its own content, such as local-search listings and traffic information, on top of Yahoo Maps, Kreitler said. In other online maps news this week:
  • Google officially released Google Earth on Tuesday, its promised revamp and renaming of the Keyhole aerial mapping software. Google is offering both a free download of the software as well as a $20 premium version that adds GPS compatibility, data import and annotation features.
  • MSN took another step toward releasing its aerial maps service called MSN Virtual Earth. The Internet division of Microsoft Corp. announced a partnership on Wednesday with ORBIMAGE Holdings Inc. to add global satellite imagery to Virtual Earth when it becomes available later this summer. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on enterprise search technology.
    Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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