OpenLayers and Mapstraction: JS Libraries for Using Maps

Mapping still reigns supreme on Programmableweb.com clocking in at over 45% of the mashups registered. Most of these directly utilize the APIs of Microsoft, Google or Yahoo!, but there are now two alternative methods for getting these same high quality maps.

Mapstraction is a JavaScript library that allows developers to switch between Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google, and most recently Open Street maps (Radar post). The focus of this library is on simplicity. Each of the larger APIs have different function calls and capabilities and in some cases the advanced functionality is not available. It is currently used in the GeoPress plugin (Radar post) and by extension the San Jose Mercury. You can see a page of examples on the Mapstraction site.

Openlayers just reached 2.2 yesterday. It is a JavaScript library that allows developers to switch between Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Google, but also has a number of advanced features including the ability to load your own tiles and markers. The new release adds the ability to consume GeoRSS and ATOM, the ability to view a single image as a map (like Maplib – Radar post), and MapServer CGI Support. It was originally funded by Meta Carta, but is now Open Source and available under the BSD License. It is being used in a number of applications including Meta Carta’s GutenKarte, a geographic text browser.

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