I am working on a prototype for a web-based trip planner and need to have a geocoding function (for the start and destination adresses), up and running the "easy" way.

My area that the prototype is covering is apprx.2*4 sqkm. Which option is the fastest and easiest (to learn) as I have very limited time? I have been looking into gisgraphy (downloading and geocoding in the database), nominatim/Mapquest etc. I prefer not be constrained to use a specific map provider, like Google or yahoo.

However, if necessary it is possible to change geocoder later on... for now I need the "quick fix"


  • Have you considered using GeoNames? The data is free to use, but the server is a bit slow and does not have addresses I think. – atlefren Apr 30 '12 at 13:13
  • I have considered GeoNames but as you say they don´t have addresses. I´ll probably be looking into gisgraphy as they have both places (from GeoNames, I think) and addresses. – Mac Apr 30 '12 at 20:51

Good question. Geocoding is often a bit difficult to integrate, at least from my experience... it'd be nice if you could just plug it in and have it work right away (without having to consign oneself to an integrated map service, like Mapquest, etc).

I'm assuming your web app uses Javascript, and some server-side code of any platform.

I work at SmartyStreets where we perform address validation and geocoding. Our service, US Street Address API geocodes addresses, but because it's CASS-Certified it also verifies that the addresses are correct and valid and will standardize them if they are not (something that Google/Mapquest do not do).

Since you'd rather not be constrained to a particular map provider, I'd suggest a service like the SmartyStreets US Street Address API which you can switch out anytime and remain totally transparent to your front-end. It's an API you can hook into easily from any platform/language, and it integrates seamlessly with Javascript because the output is JSON.

If you care about speed and reliability, it's good to know that the US Street Address API is geo-distributed, with guaranteed uptime.

It's free to sign up and start using indefinitely, so if you need a quick-fix, that might do it for you. If you have any other address/geocoding-related questions, I'll be happy to help.

  • This sounds like the perfect solution, but it seems to only be for US addresses? – Mac Apr 30 '12 at 20:49
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    @Mac You are correct, SmartyStreets provides address verification and geocoding only for USPS addresses. There is a service called StrikeIron and also Cdyne that say they have data outside the US, but I don't have personal experience with them (though they seem reputable). – Jeffrey Apr 30 '12 at 21:18
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    @Mac SmartyStreets now has international address verification and validation. – camiblanch Sep 16 '15 at 17:24

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