Friday, February 18, 2011

Mapping sites showdown! Part 1: Google Maps

Hello and welcome to my review of the online mapping website Google Maps.

This review will be broken down into the positives and the negatives of the mapping site and will compare the performance of the routing engines at the end of this review.

First we shall take a look at the positives of the mapping site.

Subject: The interface:First I will note that the interface for Google Maps is very intuitive, and you can get started on getting a map or directions right away.

The color scheme is very legible and easy to see. Works well with printing as well. The layout and controls are very easy to follow. Since it uses AJAX it is very cross platform friendly and works without any special browser plugins. It is also very responsive. It is easy to “share to” with a fair amount of “share to” links. It is very easy to send to mobile phones and GPS devices. Printing options are very much like Mapquest's. They are pretty good and include maps for each turn and even has street view for them as well.

Some cool stuff: You can enable the “labs” views and click on it and enable showing of latitude and longitude co-ordinates. You can also view bird's eye imagery and drag-n-zoom and shorted URLs.

Google has the most street view coverage. Even has areas that are out in the middle of nowhere!

Second: Mapping and address inputs and processing: data is updated quite frequently with it's semi community approach. Google used to have NAVTEQ data at first, then used Tele Atlas, Now Google is using their own data mostly gathered from their street view coverage, as well as being lightly based off their latest Tele Atlas set. This means they have more control over their data and they keep costs down by not having to license data from another provider.


Now we shall take a look at the negatives:

Address inputs and processing: mapping errors are more common as google has switched datasets and now are relying on their own data, so things are a bit wonky now. Hopefully this will get better soon. 

I have also recently hit some performance issues with Google maps. The site performance has not been as fast lately. I hope they address this problem. I will knock down site performance 1.5 stars for this.  However it is still faster then using Bing Silverlight Maps. 

Now let's move onto the routing options!

Route options: Shortest time, shortest distance with avoidances that include the following: highways,and tolls and transport modes that include the following: driving,public transport, walking, and biking

rating for routing options: 4/5

let's move on to the routing engine performance!

I took my trip to MicroCenter to purchase my monitor that I am now using to write this review on. It is a good bit of a trip, but I thought it was worth it!

I sent the directions to my cellphone as a MMS message so I can take it with me since I did not have a printer at the time and I did not have a GPS unit or a phone with one. It worked and formatted very well and was very easy to read.


I did choose to drag the route, as I did not want to take the back way to my destination, However I did let Google Maps do the rest.


The route was : 154. mi, 2 hr 34 min according to Google Maps and seemed reasonable.

The timing was fairly accurate, had we not stopped at a rest area and talked to a man with his dog for a long time. (laughs)

7.Take exit 44B on the left to merge onto I-70 W toward Columbus 70.5 mi
8.Take exit 108B to merge onto I-270 N toward Cleveland 20.0 mi
9.Take exit 22 to merge onto OH-315 S toward Columbus 3.8 mi
10.Exit onto Bethel Rd 0.6 mi
11.Turn left 0.1 mi
12.Turn right Destination will be on the left 144 ft

I am happy that they have not broken down the I270 stretch. This makes it much easier on drivers because not very many moves are really needed. As you can see Google Maps has the clearest directions of all the mapping sites and even navigates me directly to the destination. They tell you the side of the road the destination is. This is very good.

I will have to say that I was impressed with Google Maps routing engine performance and I would easily give them a 4.5/5 overall!

Overall my ratings for each category are as follows:

presentation:5/5 routing performance:4/5 printing:5/5 ease of use:5/5 routing options:4/5 website performance:3.5/5 (formerly 5/5)

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