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WebMaps

Written by Alcides Fonseca at 2007/08/10

Before putting my hands in the ejaki project, the previous version of the website was pretty old-fashion but used Google Maps API. Wow I though, but then I saw it was only used to get thumbnails for each ejaki (Point of Interest). Well, in my opinion, the map should be the center of the website, just like it is on the mobile app, since Geography is the background of our shared information.



First I had to evaluate the existing APIs: Google Maps was indeed good, proved by the fact it is the most used, and includes features like GeoCoder, remote GML overlays, traffic and driving directions. This should be useful features to add in the future for our application.



Yahoo Maps AJAX (Flash was not an option) was pretty good, with almost all the features as Google’s but with integration with Y! Pipes and GeoRSS. This extras were not relevant since we intend to use only our database (in which other information can be added).



Microsoft’s Virtual Earth shown to be a really nice platform. Microsoft is known by being left behind in the web2.0 age, but this one is from far the most powerful engine. Since 3d visualization, “Birds eye”, powerful information finder, and all the features from both Yahoo’s and Google’s APIs. But there as a downside that matters. Since this is a scientific research project, we don’t like to use proprietary formats, and Microsoft is known for that. We wouldn’t like the possibility of in the future their API would only work on IE.



Open Layers is a free and opensource library, a project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation. As an opensource alternative it would be nice to use and foment it, but it’s too poor for now. No Satellite view, no geocoding and nothing that would make it more useful for our users. Maybe in the future in another project…



As so, we sticked to Google Maps since it had the basics and some extras that might be useful in the future. Later working with it, I found out it was really nice, but one function was missing: To set the zoom depending on the geocoding answer, and so here you have it for free ;)