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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Google Maps API

This came as a nice surprise to me: Google just released a Google Maps API. No more screen-scraping necessary, and a nice gesture to developers. Google says:

“The Google Maps API lets developers embed Google Maps in their own web pages with JavaScript. You can add overlays to the map (including markers and polylines) and display shadowed “info windows” just like Google Maps.

The Maps API is a free beta service, available for any web site that is free to consumers. Google retains the right to put advertising on the map in the future.”

I put up a sample application using the Google Maps API. This is re-using the small sample page that displays after you register for a key (note that the HTML will only work in the exact directory you created an API key for, and it won’t work in sub-directories).
As you can see from the HTML source, the page includes an external JavaScript library, and then creates client-side functionality by instantiating a JavaScript object (client-side sources can’t be hidden, of course). The simplicity is great, and it’s interesting to note that Google used an XHTML1.0 Strict sample, and one that was almost valid according to the W3C (ampersands in URLs aren’t correctly escaped).

The extensive documentation should give a good idea of what’s possible with this new API.. I’m happy for pointers if anyone can come up with applications using it!

Update: EBay’s Sean Crotty (Manager, Affiliate Developers) writes: “I noticed your blog post about the Google Maps API.
Combining this and the eBay API could produce an interesting app, showing items by location. Any ideas on who would be good at writing this?”
Sean also points to the eBay developers program.


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