Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Introducing the Google Maps Data API in Labs

From simple GPS tracks to rich KML documents to collaborative maps, the geo developer community has continually redefined and enriched the geoweb, giving rise to better canvases for geographic participatory culture. Notably, the Google Maps API and other tools have led to the creation of more dynamic and interactive content, putting new demands on the ways in which geodata is stored, accessed, indexed and rendered. To address these challenges, today we've released the Google Maps Data API in Labs, a Google Data API for viewing, storing and updating geodata on the web. The Google Maps Data API is built on the following principles:
  • Storage should scale simply with usage. You shouldn't have to worry about maintaining a data store to build a cool Google Maps mashup. Focus on building the client, and we'll provide hosting and bandwidth for free.
  • Geodata should be accessible across platforms and devices. With many client libraries and clients, accessing stored geodata should be possible from anywhere, whether it's on the web, a mobile phone, a 3D application, or even a command line.
  • Realtime geodata requires realtime indexing. For a lot of geographic content, freshness is important. Geodata from the Google Maps Data API can be instantly indexed and made searchable in Google Maps.
  • Rendering geodata is better and faster with the right tools. Through JavaScript, Flash, 3D, static images and more, we'll continue to provide better ways to render your content to meet platform and latency demands.
Much like KML, the Google Maps Data API is based on a data model of maps (collections) and features (placemarks, lines and shapes). Since it uses this familiar model, this new API makes it easy to build geo applications for specific activities like planning and sharing trips, collaboratively mapping hiking trails, or saving a list of favorite restaurants. Also, for any map that is associated with a Google Account, that map is immediately available to view and edit in Google My Maps. Some examples of applications which already use the Google Maps Data API:
  • My Maps Editor for Android allows users to create and edit personalized maps from an Android mobile phone. Integration with the phone's location and camera makes it easy to document a trip with photos and text on a map.
  • ConnectorLocal is a service that informs users about the places where they live, work and visit by gathering trusted hyperlocal information from many sources. Using the Google Maps Data API, ConnectorLocal makes it easy for users to import and export their geodata in and out of Google Maps, and also improves their ability to have data indexed in Google Maps for searching.
  • My Tracks enables Android mobile phone users to record GPS tracks and view live statistics while jogging, biking, or participating in other outdoor activities. Stored with Google Maps Data API, these tracks can be accessed, edited and shared using the My Maps feature in Google Maps.
  • Platial, a social mapping service for people and places, uses the Google Maps API to host geodata for community maps on both Platial and Frappr.
If you're a developer, we encourage you to get started with the Google Maps Data API immediately with our HTTP protocol guide. Additionally, the team at We-Create (the company behind ConnectorLocal) has released their Webready library for PHP developers, built on top of the Zend Framework. Of course, this release in Labs is only the beginning -- in the future, we'll continue to add new functions and libraries to make the API even better. In the meantime, we hope you'll get an early start in developing new applications and pushing the boundaries of the API. Be sure to stop by our group to ask questions, give us feedback, and let us know what you've made!