Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for cartographers, geographers and GIS professionals. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I know this is supposed to be a wiki question, but the feature has been taken of the site

  • What are the main differences between OpenLayers and Google Maps api?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of each system?
  • Where would you prefer one system over the other?
  • etc?

These are just a few questions, feel free to answer more.

share|improve this question

closed as too broad by PolyGeo Apr 17 at 10:53

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 12 down vote accepted

I have had some projects with either of them. In addition to the the obvious data service/source difference there are some practical considerations.

OpenLayers advantages:

  • more flexible
  • can use almost any data source - even Google/Bing and others via API wrappers
  • no dependency on one map provider ToS
  • no usage restrictions (e.g. Google Maps for Intranet solution is expensive)
  • strong opensource community, can make extras
  • extensibility, many extensions/plug-ins by the community, e.g. nice vector editing features, multi-projection support, WMS, WFS and other GIS-friendly APIs

Google advantages:

  • more polished, commercial-grade product - more stable, default UI elements (eg. marker balloons) are much nicer out of the box (and customizing them with OL is not really simple)
  • no need to think about data - google just bundles it
  • huge number of users, active user (developer) community
  • easier to get started
  • advanced views: streetview, 3D (Earth) view

Google maps is more like for an average developer, and probably for 90% of users/applications it is good enough; OpenLayers is for advanced ones.

share|improve this answer

I would say the primary reason for using the Google Maps API is to use the Google services: map data, geocoding, directions, etc. If you are not going to use those, then it seems a bit strange to use the API.

share|improve this answer
so what you're saying is that Openlayers and Google Maps are pretty much interchangeable when it comes to the actual product; however, the differences are centred around the services that either system provides. With GMAPS, you get basic location services, POI, streetview, etc. but with OpenLayers, you get the flexibility and customization to role your own product on your server without having to publicly provide a kml or fusion table – dassouki Dec 24 '10 at 16:32
Basically, yes. As far as APIs go, both are fairly small and cover the same essential things like map navigation, adding map data, etc. (This also applies to other mapping JavaScript APIs, like ESRI's.) – Anthony -GISCOE- Jan 18 '11 at 19:47

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.