Google is the cute two-year-old girl with curly blond hair that gets all the attention


Let’s see, Google Maps adds the world outside the United States, Canada and the UK, and people go ga-ga. Nevermind that Google’s new “maps” have nothing beyond country boundaries. “Aww, look at Google, she’s so cute and adorable!”

I’m sure the people at the existing online map services like MapQuest and MSN MapPoint are sitting there like older siblings, wondering when exactly they turned into chopped liver. MSN MapPoint has actual maps of most of Europe, and MapQuest’s library of maps is larger still. (Kathmandu anyone?) Both sites provide documentation on how to link directly to them. Yet they don’t get drooled over.

Somebody at MapQuest should take out a full page ad that goes something like this:

Dear Google Maps,

Welcome to the rest of the world! If you ever need driving directions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Love ever,
MapQuest

Comments (85)
  1. Mike says:

    But… The driving directions google maps gives is, well, slightly more coherent.

  2. Nate says:

    I do agree that Google gets a lot of hype, but since Google maps came up, I’ve had no desire to use Mapquest or Mappoint ever again, and not because I am some type of "Google fanboy".

    My reasons for using Google maps over its competition are:

    1. Drag scrolling; I can drag myself along the maps. Its almost as responsive as a client side app.

    2. Google is less intrusive; when you use Mappoint or Mapquest, the map takes up a small little square and around it are all kinds of advertising. Google has advertising too, but it is smaller and less straining on the eye.

    3. Much MUCH faster

  3. Robert Sharp says:

    Not to mention, Google maps are a lot more fun to play with. I don’t recall click n dragability on MSN or MapQuest. Or the ability to say "QuikTrip near xxx" where xxx happens to be my street address. And OK, so it’s just a fun toy that isn’t too useful, but I don’t see satellite imagery on MSN, and I haven’t found it lately on MapQuest (they used to have it… it might be hiding). And IT is click n dragable.

  4. Wound says:

    Google maps is fine, and I really like the way you can drag the map around and it fills in the missing tile nice and quick, but if I actually want to use a map I’ll use multimap (www.multimap.com), not least because they have some really great aerial images such as this one of the Queen’s back garden (http://www.multimap.com/map/photo.cgi?client=public&X=529000&Y=179750&gride=&gridn=&scale=5000&coordsys=gb&db=&lang=&mapsize=big)

  5. Chris Slatt says:

    Also, the maps from Google don’t look like they were designed in the 1970s.

  6. Alan says:

    Thats because google has done something different – they’ve created a responsive and intuitive interface.

    Both MSN MapPoint and MapQuest use a click to re-center interface that requires reloading of the entire webpage which can be very slow. The google interface doesn’t require reloading the entire page, in fact it can easily be used even by those on a dial-up connection.

    For linking to maps – google doesn’t need instructions on how to link – theres a link on the google page saying "Link to Map" – you click it and you can grab the URL from the URL bar, Intuitive!

    This is all very good considering that Google Maps has been out for less than 6 months! Given time I’m sure other parts of the world will be added to Google Maps.

  7. Reuben Harris says:

    Google Maps’ UI is absolutely lightyears ahead of MapQuest and MapPoint! The first time I saw it, it totally blew me away…

    I’m not a web developer so never thought it was possible to do that, but jeez, you’d think someone would have provided mouse-panning a long time before Google did…

    Also in Google’s favour is that their maps are a sight easier on the eye IMHO.

  8. Daniel says:

    Well, since I livre abroad I could not resist a test and searched for São Paulo (this is largest city in Brasil).

    MapQuest could not handle the ã, a search for Sao Paulo showed a list of smaller cities in Brasil with the same name, but not São Paulo in the São Paulo state.

    Google did better, showing the right spot in a blank map.

    MapPoint won hands down, it even showed the larger streets.

    Daniel

  9. asdf says:

    Just ignore slashdot. They have a requirement to do a post about google at least once a day.

  10. Well, yeah MapQuest and MapPoint do maps.

    Google Maps does it better. The maps look really really good, with lovingly-antialiased curves and everything. The text is typeset with care.

    There’s the integrated satellite shots, which are undeniably cool. I mean, using Google Maps, I discovered that the parking garage right next to my building isn’t entirely symmetrical; how neat is that?

    Google Maps brings an immediacy that MapPoint and MapQuest can’t touch due to their architecture. It’s almost about the thrill of exploration instead of the tedium of just generating a map. It’s about being able to pan anywhere without feeling like you’re waiting; you go where you want, and the computer tries to keep up with you, which is as it should be.

    Yeah, it might seem like going ga-ga over Google Maps is undeserved, but there were music players long before the iPod. There were Internet search engines long before Google. But sometimes there’s just an elegance about doing a "solved" problem really, really well. And there’s nothing wrong with praising that.

  11. Jonathan says:

    I consider these "global map services" as "US&Canada map services, with cursory support for other parts of the world".

    For example, let’s look at Israel maps:

    - MapPoint has a wierd one with only city names and borders between non-existing provinces ("HaMerkaz" and "Hadarom", which are just translations of "the center" and "the south").

    - MapQuest has city names, and detailed (street-level) map of Jerusalem and central Tel-Aviv, but that’s kind of it.

    And it’s not like Israel is uncharted territory. http://www.emap.co.il has details maps of all Israel, available online for free (English+Hebrew). I wonder what would it take for google/Map* to buy the database from them?

  12. Rob says:

    To me the big deal is not the maps, it is that satellite images are available… MapQuest used to have them but they seem to have been removed…

    Both Google’s and MSN’s driving directions are way better than MapQuest’s; in my experience, MapQuest likes to send you down unmarked roads…

  13. steven says:

    While the Google Maps has the better user interface, there was a recent Channel 9 broadcast that showed a new MS mapping product that was looking even sexier.

    I’m still waiting to be able use an on-line mapping service, switch to an aerial photo and say "I can see my house from here" (even if I am in it).

  14. Mat Booth says:

    As a UK resident, I’ve noticed that Google maps use a slightly different projection to the standard Ordinance Survey maps used here. This makes the maps look somewhat skewed. They should do some localisation on the maps they do have before considering the rest of the world.

  15. Troy says:

    All I know is that none of the three services show the site of my new house in a suburb of Perth, Western Australia. I guess the street only got constructed a year ago :)

    Have to give MSN MapPoint credit – at least they have the surrounding streets that have been there for 40-50 years.

  16. Daniel Garlans says:

    Raymond, along similar lines to what asdf said, if you actually pay attention to slashdot you’re just going to drive yourself crazy.. I don’t even work for microsoft and reading that site makes me want to throw punches to defend ms, and the google fanaticism isn’t any better…

    let the slashdotters go gaga over pretty little outlines and scrollbars; everyone else who actually needs to get something done will continue to use mapquest and msn maps…

    (about msn maps though; it has an annoying tendency not to include highway exit numbers on the directions, which is a pain because the rest of the information it gives is usually better than mapquests)

  17. Scott McCaskill says:

    "I think everyone is missing my point."

    I hear you, but I think you’re missing something too. Sure, today there are just outlines, but I don’t think the excitement is based on that, I think it’s based on anticipation of having more complete map data in the future AND having the good interface and attractive visuals to go with it.

    I know I practically cringe at the thought of having to wait for a page load every time I want to do something as simple as reposition the map, or be forcibly limited to a tiny little window. Usability is a big deal for this kind of application.

  18. Travis Owens says:

    This is a classic case of apples and oranges. Both have their strengths but as far as online maps go, I prefer Google.

    As mentioned above, you cannot deny the "X near Y" functionality and that Google maps are antialiased, something that not even client side mapping programs are doing, where they have boatloads of CPU available (more cpu available that the slice the server is giving an individual web user).

    The tables will probably turn when the tottally all new WebBased Mappoint launches (which wiss probably replace MSN Maps oneday as mentioned by MS).

    Until then, keep drinking your favorite flavored koolaid.

  19. oldnewthing says:

    "anticipation of having more complete map data in the future AND having the good interface and attractive visuals to go with it."

    Great, get excited about the interface and the visuals. But don’t say "They added outlines of countries, this totally kicks ass!"

  20. mschaef says:

    "I hear you, but I think you’re missing something too. Sure, today there are just outlines, but I don’t think the excitement is based on that, I think it’s based on anticipation of having more complete map data in the future AND having the good interface and attractive visuals to go with it. "

    Yes, particularly since it’ll be easier for Google to buy more map data than it will be for MapQuest and MapPoint to develop a new UI, showing that kind of attention to detail.

    What should be embarrasing to Microsoft about the excitement around Google Maps is that there’s no reason they shouldn’t have had a product as nice as Google Maps themselves, only years ago. Google has made better use of Microsoft’s own web brower than Microsoft itself.

  21. Rosyna says:

    But if you’re complaining about people going ga-ga over something as simple as outlining of countries, wouldn’t that apply to all things of that magnitude like longhorn adding a new command line shell that isn’t even half as good (especially if it was to be what it was to be) as what people consider "shells". Same basic principal.

  22. oldnewthing says:

    I assume you’re talking about Monad? If that’s all it did then I’d agree with you.

  23. Rick C says:

    Y’all are right about the online maps–Google’s ease-of-use and responsiveness are higher. As someone pointed out, tho, /. is getting wound up by country names. There’s NO detail on those maps.

    One place where Google Maps falls down is driving directions–their maps are distinctly inferior to MSN Maps. Why? My chief complaint is that the neat turn-by-turn maps DON’T PRINT. You can only see them superimposed over the main map in your browser window.

  24. Jason says:

    While it’s nice that Google has gotten around to adding (part of) the rest of the world, I was happier when they started getting distances right. For a while, the directions from my apartment to my friend’s place involved going "0.0" miles for about a mile and a half. (It’s now been corrected to an almost-accurate 1.0.) In fact, distances marked are very frequently more than a quarter-mile away from reality. I’d rather they get that right before they start adding useless polygons 5000 miles away.

  25. I have been wondering about this… The information was not readily available and I thought I would need…

  26. James Schend says:

    To continue my point: If you want to prove that normal human beings are actually so excited over Google adding borders, you’ll need to find a website full of actual normal human beings, and not just Slashdot.

  27. sriram says:

    Everybody loves Google because of the interface. The simple search page. Compare the interface of Hotmail vs Gmail. Logging into Hotmail is a chore, and navigating through messages is ofter quite slow. Logging into Gmail is fast, navigating through messages is also likewise fast.

    I think the reason is because Google doesn’t require that you reload the enitre page when navigating, but instead uses some html/javascript/etc tricks to quickly request partial content, making for a far superior user experience.

  28. bramster says:

    When I first looked a maps.google.com a few months ago, the Canadian Provinces were not identified, although the underlying maps were there. When the satelite imagery was added, there was no hi-res stuff anywhere except in North America. Now, other areas have been added. It’s a work in progress, constantly being improved. . . and I HAVEN’T had to download any patches to get the improvements. That’s something I’d go ga-ga over.

  29. carlso says:

    I don’t find the Google Maps UI to be all that great. Sure it’s an advance over the static display of map sites like Mapquest, but it is painfully inferior compared to a client-based product like Microsoft’s Streets and Trips.

    The Google UI is jerky and it makes me watch as it tiles and redraws the screen before my eyes when I move around. If this UI was delivered as a PC software product during the 1990’s, people would claim that it was buggy and unacceptable by the way it draws.

    But it seems like all of our UI and software interaction expectations have been knocked down several levels ever since the introduction of the web.

    What I want is the Streets and Trips UI delivered in a web app. With Avalon and Indigo waiting in the wings, I’m hoping that this won’t be too far off. Hopefully, Microsoft is working on this now.

  30. You have to admit that Google Maps upped the game — it is fundamentally more pleasant to use than MapQuest or MapPoint.

    Agreed that globalization is a HUGE piece, but so is innovation. Adding more maps is a quantitative change, but the improvement of UX in Google Maps is qualitative.

  31. ZZ says:

    You can take cheap shots all you want (ga ga), but Google understands the user very well. Keep in mind it is still in beta.

    It is all about the user experience and keeping things simple and intuitive which is why users are drawn to http://maps.google.com/ hence the chopped liver. Google is definitely cool for this reason.

    So to draw a parallel why do people like going to Costco instead of larger retail chains that have much greater product offerings and more attractive décor. I mean who would have thought people would like to shop in a warehouse. Because it’s simple, fun, and no nonsense which is what people want which makes it cool to shop at Costco.

    ZZ

  32. Anonymous Coward says:

    Heh…Scoble was raving about a MSFT vaporsite a couple months ago because it an RSS feed (even though it had no content). Marketing = marketing.

  33. Jared says:

    It’s because Google is considered to be "tech-trendy". People will use it (especially /.ers) because it isn’t MS. MapQuest is old news, and Google is the "new, trendy thang". Technology is becoming more and more a fashion or trend statement than a matter of usefullness or extensiveness of features.

  34. While growing up, I sometimes spent hours poring over atlases. I followed rivers. I followed roads. I followed borders, rainfall patterns, and biomes. I discovered hitherto hidden things.

    Google has recaptured that magic and done it one better. Flying over the Google world is immersive and addictive. New things lurk behind every pan.

    The interface is magical. A few pans and you forget it is there. You become one with the map. That’s why I use Opera — it is so painless you forget it has an interface. That’s why I think Total Annihilation was the best RTS game of all time — the interface evaporates.

    The addition of the world outside of Canada and the other two countries has only added to the immersion. Sure, it’s only vague outlines now, but a cardboard backdrop is better than a blank stage. It will improve in time.

  35. rburhum says:

    Raymond, you are my programming hero, but this time you are missing the point of the hype.

    They must be using some variation of the XMLHttpRequest (although not completely sure) technique to avoid reloading of the page. Even on a T3 line, reloading a page is always annoying. You know how you were getting picky about making your dictionary program load in less than 100ms and you went even through the trouble of figuring out how to replace the calls of c++’s new operator because that was the "bottleneck" of your program? It was all to improve the response time. Same principle here.

    Among other things, for people that know about maps, the symbolization of the features and the annotation is simply better than any of the other counterparts. That other slashdot poster does not represent the true reason of the hype. But little things like the features described above do.

    Anyway, when are you going to continue with your dictionary program? I am truly interested to see what you do with it!

  36. Mr. Chen,

    Thank you for posting this article. I am utterly amazed at how some companies like Google can generate so much hype over such pathetic little features everyone else has been doing for years.

    Surely the Google Marketing Machine knows full well that hype is a well that dries up quickly and sooner or later something super cool must be produced to back up that hype.

    I would have thought this lesson would be well remembered by those of us who survived the dotcom bubble burst of a few short years ago.

    Remember when Red Hat first went public? Pathetic.

    James Summerlin

  37. Mike Weiss says:

    Google maps is impressive, much like gmail it’ll spur a big change to all competitors.

    However, beyond the basic UI I’ve been less then blown away. I use these maps site for driving directions. In my own experiences mapquest does a better job at picking the best route. Also, google map’s printed page IS AWFUL (yes I clicked on the print link). The map was small and hard to read (printed on a laser printer). The turn-by-turn directions we also tiny and unclear.

  38. Greg Wishart says:

    I like http://www.maporama.com because it shows the GPS coordinates of where I want to go. I put the coordinates into my handheld GPS and follow the arrow…

    MapQueset used to show the lattitude and longitude in the URL, but not any more.

  39. Serge says:

    Guys, have you checked mappoint recently? It does not reload the whole page any longer if you need to move or zoom the map. Yes, it is not as convenient as Google’s drag-n-pan but way better than it was before.

  40. Neil T. says:

    Ah, but Google manage it without bombarding you with adverts and a nicer and more intuitive interface. Mapquest also trips up with quite a lot of UK addresses, something its rivals (Google Maps, Multimap, Streetmap etc.) have no problem with.

  41. Michael Breslin says:

    Love your blog, and you bring up a valid point surely, but SINCE the essence of your post did sort of get derailed, let’s keep it that way. Since I’m pretty sure all the map sites get their data from the same service, it seems more than likely google will fill in the gaps just like other services have done. Now, with that aside, do me a favor and go try using that piece of garbage they’re calling msn local, I’d love to see your critique of it. Beta? I hope in some language beta means trash. Play around with it then go play with google maps a bit more and be reminded just how awesome it is.

  42. mschaef says:

    I think a lot of that has to do with the higher quality interaction (and visuals) that Google Maps offers. With Google Maps, I can:

    * Click and drag the map in real time

    * Resize the browser window and have the map automatically resize to fit

    * Zoom in real time (this might be new)

    * Annotate the map with other waypoints (see http://monkeyhomes.com/map/nycsubway.php)

    Maybe these seem like small things, but they make for a better, more appealing user experience. This is the same thing that differentiates Apple: they pay more attention to the details of the user experience, and it pays off for the users of the software. Microsoft, on the other hand, has paid a lot more attention to the existing software base, to which your blog will testify.

  43. oldnewthing says:

    I think everyone is missing my point. I’m not talking about Google’s usability or the site design. Go back to the article I linked to. It’s going gaga over the fact that Google added **outlines of countries** to their map.

  44. oldnewthing says:

    I’m not talking about MSN Local. I’m not talking about who has the slicker interface. I’m talking about maps. Let’s compare.

    Unter Den Linden 13

    10117 Berlin

    GERMANY

    MSN: http://maps.msn.com/home.aspx?strt1=Unter+Den+Linden+13/15&city1=Berlin&cnty1=4

    MapQuest: http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?address=Unter+Den+Linden+13&city=Berlin&zipcode=10117&country=DE&cid=lfmaplink

    Google: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Unter+den+Linden+13,+Berlin+10117+Germany&hl=en

  45. boxmonkey says:

    I responded to the title of your entry. Your illustration of the assertion that "Google is the cute two-year-old girl with curly blond hair that gets all the attention" was maps.

    My assertion is that the premise is wrong, google’s not getting special attention because it’s google.

  46. oldnewthing says:

    "google’s not getting special attention because it’s google"

    So you’re saying that if a site had a map of the world consisting of country outlines, it too would get all this attention?

  47. Matthew Hunt says:

    It doesn’t just have outlines. It has satellite imagery, too.

    So, yeah, if some other site had cool satellite imagery of the world, and a really slick (for the web) interface for playing with it, I think they’d get a post on Slashdot. I’ve spent a surprising amount of time playing with Google Maps since it came out (first just the maps, then the satellite images). I love it.

    You’re the one claiming that people are "going ga-ga." The only thing the Slashdot article really says in its favor is that it’s nice to have the satellite images. I agree. It specifically says it’s just country outlines, so I don’t see "ga-ga" there. It’s an accurate description of what they provide. As others have pointed out, the comments are mostly about the interface or the satellite images, or jokes about the lack of maps in the countries. I don’t see the "going ga-ga" that you’re claiming exists.

  48. James Schend says:

    >Great, get excited about the interface and the

    >visuals. But don’t say "They added outlines of

    >countries, this totally kicks ass!"

    Are you entirely new to Slashdot? I think that’s the problem here… let’s do a quick summary of Slashdot think:

    1) Microsoft is bad. No matter what they do. If Microsoft cured cancer world-wide, it would just be part of a conspiracy to sell more copies of Windows.

    2) Linux is good. Linux is better than Windows and OS X in every single way. Everybody loves Linux. Linux is about 5 years away from being installed on everybody’s desktop computer and completely breaking Microsoft’s monopoly. (BTW, Linux has been 5 years away for 7 years now.)

    3) Apple is good or bad depending on what they are announcing. Apple is a constant threat to Linux, as an alternative to Microsoft that actually– you know– works. But on the other hand, Linux users love it because of the Unix base and ability to run big-name commercial applications. Oh, Apple is bad for putting DRM on iTunes stores.

    4) If you’re talking about video games, Nintendo is good. Sony is eh. Microsoft is crap. Since Microsoft has the most powerful game console, it must therefore have "no games worth playing." Nintendo, despite appealing only to a limited audience is "innovative." Also, gameplay is always more important than graphics… unless Nintendo happens to have the best graphics.

    5) Google is good, almost as good as Linux.

    There are more, but I’ve typed enough. Point is, Slashdot posters *are not normal people.* They’re brainwashed at least as bad as Macintosh zealots are, and we all know how much sense their posts usually make.

    There’s nothing broken here but Slashdot, and Slashdot has been this way for 10 years.

  49. Sherrod Segraves says:

    Imagine if all cars were uncomfortably cramped, garish, slow, and hard to use.

    Then along came an American company that offered cars for the same price that were comfortably roomy, elegant, fast, and easy to use.

    They would instantly become the darling among regular drivers.

    Then when there were hints that these super cars would soon be available worldwide, people would go nuts.

    That’s what’s happening with Google Maps. Although hype about Google contributes, the main point is that a service that far outshines its competitors is about to go global.

    Most programmers like to see themselves as being very pragmatic. They often have the attitude that function is the only important feature, and that visual design and usability are just fluff. Then the same people go nuts over their new iPods.

    It’s foolish for a business to give short shrift to usability and design. By doing so, they ignore a lot of bang-for-the-buck.

  50. John says:

    I don’t have to go to Kathmandu, but I use Google mainly for one reason: It actually hits the right spot when you enter an address. I’ve never once had MapQuest put the star in the right place and I’ve been led astray a few times by that. Google always marks it dead on. More than anything else, that sells Google’s usefulness to me.

  51. Vivek says:

    Well the reason people go ga-ga is because unlike MSN maps, that seems to think that going across the ocean to reach a place a few miles away is ok, google maps actually works. Have a look here

    http://www.vivekiyer.net/2005/01/online-mapping-never-trust-them-too.htm

    Hence …

  52. Dean Harding says:

    Has anyone seen this: http://blogs.msdn.com/cthota/archive/2005/05/23/421114.aspx

    It looks like it’ll crap all over google maps, if that screen shot is anything to go by. Let’s just hope it’s got world-wide support from the get-go :)

  53. Eric TF Bat says:

    Google is the cute girl with the curly blonde hair. MSN MapPoint and MapQuest are the fully grown adult shop-window dummies: they look more mature, but they’re not quite as responsive somehow.

    (And no doubt one day someone will upgrade them, which will make me think of the pilot episode of the new Doctor Who…)

  54. Did you ever tried Map24? It *only* does Europe, but it is one of the finest mapping soution I know of.

    http://www.map24.com/

  55. boxmonkey says:

    Google gets all the attention because they do things right and elegantly.

    Sure, others have been doing maps forever, but Google does maps right and with a sleek interface, *that’s* why it gets all the attention.

    I don’t think the google name has much to do with it, really, if it sucks people will stop using it.

  56. Ray Trent says:

    Ummm, Raymond… did you actually *read* the slashdot comments?

    I just perused the comments and I don’t see anyone going "ga-ga" over Google Maps there, expect for one or two comments marked "Funny".

    Mostly they’re complaining about weird glitchy errors like names of countries being switched at certain zoom levels.

  57. MSN Maps – I never knew!

  58. A couple things caught my eye over on Raymond Chen’s blog. First, apparently every time I was using what I thought was the "calendar app" on pre-Win2K systems, I was actually modifying my system’s date and time. Who knew? The…

  59. RichB says:

    See the maps on MSN local:

    http://search.msn.com/local

    See the maps on Google local:

    http://local.google.com/

    Drool over Google and laugh at MSN. Sure MSN will get better, that’s what the "release early, release often" mantra implies. But there are such simple things in Google maps that make it an order of magnitude better than MSN (-moz-user-select anyone?).

    In any case, Microsoft of all people should be focused on the CUSTOMER, and what percentage of customers require a map of Kathmandu? Having a canonical map of the world is great computer science, but poor resource allocation.

  60. Wound says:

    OK raymond, lets compare

    Unter Den Linden 13 Berlin, BERLIN 10117

    http://www.multimap.com/map/browse.cgi?lat=52.5172&lon=13.3899&scale=10000&icon=x

  61. EnTee says:

    Map services reviewed:

    1. Map24 (http://www.us.map24.com)

    2. Yahoo Maps (http://maps.yahoo.com)

    3. MSN Maps (http://maps.msn.com)

    4. MapQuest (http://www.mapquest.com)

    5. Google Maps (http://maps.google.com)

    I used 3 addresses in USA (the places I have been, so makes it easy for me to judge) and 2 well known landmarks (Smithsonian Instution, Washington DC and Sears Towers, Chicago). I did not include driving directions at this point. Although these map services do have maps outside North America, I wanted to narrow my focus to USA only.

    I judged the maps on the basis of followign criteria:

    1. Usability:

    Google scores when it comes to usability. All other map sites require the user to add a complete street address, but Google map can search on any term and shows the search results as pins on a map of suitable scale. And I can search on any term. For example, I searched for Smithsonian Institute and I got 10 closest matching pins on the map. All other map sites lack this simplicity.

    2. Look and Feel

    By look and feel, I refer to the ease of use of the UI. MSN Maps, MapQuest and Yahoo maps have very crappy user interfaces. Yahoo is somewhat better than the other two with a nice clean interface but they lack many things like a real-time scrolling which Map24 and Google Maps have. I can just drag and scroll on the maps on these two, but only way to do it on the other three is by using buttons on the side of the map. Between Maps24 and Google, I would rate Map24 slightly higher. They have a nice way of displaying relevant information about the area under the mouse pointer. It tells me what type of street it is (local street, highway etc.) and also gives information about parks, public utilities, reservoirs etc. whenever I scroll the mouse over that.

    3. Ability of show other relevant information

    Yahoo Maps and MapQuest score very high here. They have links right next to the map pointing to business that might be relevant to me when I am looking at this area. Google Maps makes me go to the Local Page and lets me search, but this is of very less use if I am in some unknown area. But when I do search it neatly arranges the search results as pins (which on clicking expand into a box that gives me more information like address, phone and driving directions). Map24 shows sponsored business information on the map itself using symbols, which is kind of useful.

    5. Links to the map

    Only Google and Yahoo let me have a link to the map that I see on my browser window. MSN has a long article about how I can build a link, which is quite worthless for me. All I want is a nice link which I can copy paste in an email or IM conversation. I don’t want to spend too much time in building a link.

    My Verdict:

    Here are my rankings of Map Services.

    1. Google Maps: Awesome UI, very simple to use. Additionally it shows a satellite photo of the map at the same scale which is simply kickass. No one else has that functionality.

    2. Map24: Very good UI and gives a lot of information. Additionally they have some great maps of Europe and UK (but I didn’t judge maps on those criteria)

    3. Yahoo Maps: Decent UI and shows relevant links on the webpage. But UI lacks real time scrolling over the map.

    4. MapQuest: Very bad UI. But it does show relevant links on the webpage.

    5. MSN Maps: Sucks bigtime. Scored last in all my criteria. They have horrible UI and their functionality is also not so good.

    Simply put, the 2 year old cute little girl with ponytails and pink ribbons has kicked others in the nuts.

  62. oldnewthing says:

    EnTee: Um, that’s all very nice but by choosing locations in the United States you completely missed the point.

    "Welcome to the rest of the world!"

    Repeat the exercise with an address in Europe, say, the one I used as an example (the Guggenheim Museum in Berlin).

  63. Diego says:

    That’s true, however you’ve to admit that when they do something, they do it really well. Plus, they can "deliver" it

    Take a existing idea, do it better than your competitors and make verybody to use it. That has been the way Microsoft products have worked for a long time, and I don’t think it’s bad.

  64. binaryc says:

    Bah, who cares about the rest of the world, the internet is only available in the US anyway.

  65. vince says:

    I hate to break it to you, but if you are going to complain about a company somehow getting big press for vaporware just because they are the media darling, look no further than your own company.

    Even on Slashdot. Why else do things like "Longhorn will have Monad" (oops no it won’t). "IE7 has innovative tab and transparent PNG support" (oh wait, if you run win2k you won’t even get IE7). "Longhorn will have WINfs support" (oh waith, no it won’t). Most other companies, even google, wouldn’t be able to get away with such nonsense like MS does.

  66. oldnewthing says:

    Who said Microsoft was getting away with it? The fact that you wrote those parentheticals shows that they aren’t. And that’s a good thing. (Though I don’t see what is false about "IE7 will have tabs" – nobody said "IE7 will have tabs on Windows 2000" did they?)

    Of course plans also change – the statements about Longhorn were true when they were made, but aren’t true any more. As if you’ve never changed plans after announcing them.

  67. vince says:

    oldnewthing:

    > (Though I don’t see what is false about "IE7 will have tabs"

    > nobody said "IE7 will have tabs on Windows 2000" did they?)

    You complained about google because they were getting press for a feature you claimed other mapping sites already did well. So were you upset when slashdot posted a story ( http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/05/17/0321257 ) about IE getting tabbed browsing even though it is a feature other browsers have had for years? And no maybe MS never promised that ie7 would be available for win2k, but it is odd that MS’s flagship browser won’t even run on some still supported OS’s, when all of the competitors will. But we’re getting off topic.

    oldnewthing:

    > As if you’ve never changed plans after announcing them.

    me personally? I am a free software developer and in general I never announce anything until after I am finished the code and have released it. Though I admit this is because there is no reason for me to do it any other way.

    I apologize if the formatting is off on this. This blog could really use a "preview" button. I am entering this entry with Lynx and for some reason the formatting never comes out right.

  68. Michael Breslin says:

    Raymond your point is noted, good lord, do you really think google will not fill in the rest of the world at some point? (probably soon) I don’t care what the company is called, simply use mappoint/msn local and then use google and you won’t care either. Now the fact that it’s google is obviously the reason the news got spread around initially and if it wasn’t google maybe I wouldn’t have ever learned of the amazing map site. And for the upteenth time we get your point, did the fact that google doesn’t have maps for all countries and in some cases the maps they do have are just outlines get ignored because it’s google? Most likely yes. Will it matter in the end when they have all the map data holes filled in? No. what’s going to count is the user experience. Does google get the benifit of the doubt by default just because they’re google? More often then not they do. Go use some of their services and compare them to the competition and see why they’ve earned that benifit of the doubt. Is it fair? Probably not, humour me and go give msn local a try though, I’m interested in your opinion on that piece of crap.

  69. oldnewthing says:

    "So were you upset when slashdot posted a story about IE getting tabbed browsing?"

    Yes. Amazing what passes for "news" nowadays.

  70. tsrblke says:

    Hype is exactly that, Hype. Google is good at hype, and that’s why they do well. MS is good at hype too, all you have to do is look at the X360 campaign to see how good they are. (Fable was another example, but let’s not look there).

    As for google maps, to drift farther off subject, I like google maps that I can just punch in in the top bar XXX to YYY, without tabbing, ect. But it’s given me some odd directions. The other day I was doing my house to NY, (not for actual directions but for rough timing for a possible trip). And it sent me 2 hours out of the way taking bypasses where it really didn’t need them. The same exact seach on mapquest pulled up a route that was 2 hours shorter.

  71. milk says:

    as many others have already commented, the google maps ajax dragging system blows away the competition in terms of usability and the as service is fairly new i’d expect the nifty features that people noted are missing will probably be added at some point.

    matthew hunt also mentioned the main point of the slashdot posting; the fact that the satellite imagery now covers the whole world.

    but i think you almost hit upon another reason for the hype in your post when you said "I’m sure the people at the existing online map services like MapQuest and MSN MapPoint are sitting there like older siblings, wondering when exactly they turned into chopped liver"; once google /does/ finally add maps other large countries (which i’m sure we’ll see within the next two/three months seeing the speed the service has grown since it started), then eventually the rest of the world, it will have removed the only big disadvantage holding it back from being better than mapquest and msn mappoint and /really/ turn them into chopped liver.

  72. tonetheman says:

    This is why MS is in trouble. Who give a shit about what is on MSN or mapquest. It is all about interface and google has a better interface. PERIOD. Your data may be better. I like mapquest and use it all the time. But google maps are easier to use. If you cannot see that this is the problem you are not a good developer. There is a great web usability book that the people at google must eat and sleep with, "dont make me think" and that is why google maps is great and everything else is not. Mapquest still has good data and is still useful but google maps is easy to use.

  73. EnTee says:

    Help!! Google maps just spilled over the Atlantic and they now do UK (Try searching for All England Lawn Tennis Association. It will show you a map *and* a cool satellite photo of Wimbledon). How long before it reaches Berlin?

    If you look closely at Google Maps, you will see a lot of new satellite data of the world. Which means they will map the new areas soon. And with their superlative UI, they will soon be the ‘preferred’ map service. They still have a *lot* of ground to cover (pun not intended), but they are on the right path.

  74. TheMuuj says:

    All we need is a GreaseMonkey script to add a "View This Map on MapQuest" and we’d have the best of both worlds. I wonder how hard it would be to map the coordinates of one to the other.

  75. Anonymous Coward says:

    Okay, I’ll weigh in with an equally bad analogy of my own, explaining why something as non-impressive as adding outlines of countries is newsworthy.

    Google Maps Beta release, which included only North America, was like a weapons test. It showed Google had the capability to damage the competition. Providing outlines of the rest of the world, is like prepping their fighters to carry the weapons. The significance isn’t in what happened but in what it implies will happen.

    Hopefully you survived that analogy.

  76. boxmonkey says:

    "So you’re saying that if a site had a map of the world consisting of country outlines, it too would get all this attention?"

    If that site was the first to come up with a totally effin awesome interface that was easy to use and pretty, then yes, I’m saying that site would get all that attention, even if their name wasn’t google.

  77. Good Point says:

    Yes companies do have PR/marketing departments. Microsoft gets it share of attention for fluff as well:

    Future Windows will include RSS support

    http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D8AU5CQ00.htm?campaign_id=apn_home_down

  78. oldnewthing says:

    … and said fluff was greeted by Slashdot with a yawn and conspiracy theories.

  79. …mostly with conspiracy theories.

  80. Casey Marshall says:

    Your article made me revisit these older map sites, which I haven’t used for awhile. ‘Maybe they have improved their user interfaces to compete with Google Maps’, I thought, getting my hopes up.

    Right away, I tried to zoom, click, and drag my way to a location. It didn’t move, and my mouse pointer turned into a circle with a slash through it. Disappointed, I closed the Firefox tabs. End of story.

  81. TAG says:

    Google Maps sucks !

    Search for:

    Ukraine

    or

    Russia

    You will find NOTHING !

    Or try to search for Moscow and you will see red X signs instead of pictures.

  82. nathan says:

    err, but mapquest sucks, doesn’t it? same for msn?

    -nathan

    sorry for yhbt, i mean it though?

  83. tom_e says:

    Yeah, the cute girl has much sex appeal for non-US folks. It even can speak our language.

    If the point is "but others are already long time around" – then what a shame they still handle only the 7 bit ASCII search term stoneage. That crusty mess should be extinct as soon as possible for anything computer related – filesystems, applications and websites.

    As mapquest is not even capable of handling umlauts (and diacritic characters), forget it for Europe – French people DO care about ç etc. Spanish people about ñ etc. Germans about äöü – as in München or Nürnberg.

  84. dumprep.exe says:

    You sound jealous! That’s okay. I don’t see any ga-ga in the /. article. TFA says there’s no detail. There is world-wide satellite coverage. That’s just too cool. Like the name of your blog, old, but new.

Comments are closed.