Thursday, November 19, 2009

Finding mashups: Needle in a haystack?

Over the last four years, developers have created hundreds of thousands of mashups that use the various Maps APIs. These range from practical and useful to fun and bizarre. With so many API sites out there, how do you find one about a specific topic and place, say "wine shops in New York City"? Or how would the developer of this mashup get his site in front of users looking for something to do in New York?

You may have noticed that user-created "My Maps" are shown on Google Maps when searching or looking at a specific place. Similarly, we think that there are many Google Maps API sites that would be very interesting to users searching on Google Maps. So we've been working on a way to expose relevant Maps API sites on Google Maps. In order to do this well, we need to know the location and content of the markers and/or infowindows that are displayed on these mashups. In a few weeks, we will turn on new functionality that helps Google to log this information from mashups that are using the JavaScript Maps API v2. We'll announce the exact date as we get closer but we wanted to provide an early look into our plans.

We realize that some of your markers or infowindows may contain information that you don't want us to display in search results or on Google Maps. Your content may be personal in nature or perhaps you don't have the necessary rights to allow indexing of the content you are displaying. Maps API Premier customers in particular may not want their content indexed and displayed in Google Maps. To ensure that this new feature doesn't cause any issues, we have put a few controls in place:

  1. We only index data from maps that have been viewed by many unique users. For example, maps only viewed by you and a few friends won't be indexed.
  2. If your page is protected by robots.txt, we will not index your content.
  3. You can opt-out of the logging by specifying "indexing=false" when loading the API For example:

    http://maps.google.com/maps?file=api&v=2&key=abcdefg&sensor=true&indexing=false
  4. If you are a Maps API Premier customer, we will not index data from your maps, unless you opt into indexing by passing in "indexing=true".

We're excited about letting users easily find the wonderful mashups developers have created. As always, if you have any feedback for us, please use the Maps API Google Group.