GIS Google Earth Google Maps

What Map Maker is /is not

Last week Google introduced Map Maker a set of online map making tools to very positive… but not universal acclaim.

I can understand where SteveC is coming from, but I think it’s important to clarify a few points.

Map Maker is clearly not an open source project, and as such is not in competition with openstreetmap and does not I believe represent a forking opportunity for the creation of open geodata. If you wish to help build an open geodata based global map then openstreetmap is the project for you.

What Map Maker represents is the public exposure of the tool Google has been using internally for a while to “fill in the gaps” of our global mapping coverage, specifically mapping areas not currently covered by the commercial map data providers. We are now asking the users of Google Maps to help us by providing mapping data using the same tool. The data submitted is licensed by contributors to Google to eventually become part of Google Maps/Earth following moderation by Google.

This is a key difference in approach to openstreetmap, most end users of Google Maps/Earth etc. and most developers using their api’s don’t want or need access to the raw data, for them such information is most usefully made available as pre-rendered tiles.

Although not currently an open source project, it does produce data that is free to users, the information contributed by the community becomes freely available to them via Google Maps and the Maps and Earth API’s

At the moment, I believe this is the best way to rapidly expand the availability of mapping and to provide access to detailed online maps to communities which up until now have just not had access to something most of use take for granted.

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.

19 replies on “What Map Maker is /is not”

Work for an hour and choose a pint of free beer from the big brewery, or get half a shandy from the local brew-pub?

David Earl, above, and a few others cannot see why people would donate their time to adding to Google Maps. He cannot see the thousands of websites that use Google Maps, and cannot hear the moans of those users when they see that the maps do not have their homes on them.

These users want the big glass of beer.
They will work that hour for that “free” beer. Openstreetmap, for their hour, doesn’t even give them half a shandy – just instructions for a home brew, and the promise of great tasting things to come. (One side effect of making more people mapping alcoholics should be more appreciation of the finer tasting open geodata brews).

Ed is correct, (at this time) most users and developers couldn’t care less where their maps come from. Some may say this view is mistaken – time will see.


Google licenses the imagery for the commercial providers so don’t usually own the copyright. I can’t make any promises about making the imagery available to anybody outside of Map Maker users therefore sorry.


You are able to draw any feature you like on the maps using the api tools, however you must not trace (copy) any feature such as a road for example, or the shape of a lake with the intention of exporting the data to a different application. These are licensing restrictions imposed by Googles commercial data providers.

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