Google Map Serfdom

According to my good friend and slavedriver TOGGL my largest slab of time last week was spent on upgrading Google Maps API version 2 to API version 3.

This didn’t come as a surprise as our dear friends from Mountain View had declared API 2 dead after November 19th. They did, in their strange way say that they would put an envelope around API version 2 so that most stuff would continue to work under version 3. We had our doubts but we shared Google’s assurance and presented them with the choice:

  • Upgrade to V3 even though it may not be necessary
  • Wait, see and then maybe upgrade

Everyone decided to wait. We did and sure enough everything broke. At least we were prepared. The first thing was to move a lot of stuff from using API to just the simple <embed> command you can steal off https://maps.google.co.uk/. People who do that are often annoyed by the unnecessary pop-up directions balloon that Google add – viz:

That easy to fix. Well it is if you remembered to made a note in Evernote (my favourite record book). all you have to do is stick &iwloc=near on the end of the URL. So:…output=embed“></iframe> becomes …output=embed&iwloc=near“></iframe> and you get a cleaner map:

That is what we do now for single marker maps. Multi-map markers tend to be a speciality for us – the markers being generated on the fly by custom perl scripts. Which means API version 3 is the only way for heavy lift mapping. Thankfully our old scrpts were easily adaptable to some good javascript code freely published by Google developers. Googling the google folks gets a bit incestuous! The bit we used was based on this link: https://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/javascript/markers

POSTSCRIPT: This was not in the end a big issue but it does remind of us of a salutary lesson – be careful of becoming reliant on Google. They may still be coders at heart but when the bean counters gain complete control the commercial terms can change nastily and you will have nowhere to go. Or as in Google Reader – a great simple product which must have cost virtually nothing to maintain was unceremoniously dropped and despite all the time we have search since – not bettered or equalled.

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