Google Maps is really good when it comes to places data and navigation and still is one of the most popular options for normal uses but whenever I try to look up a GIS tech stack they uses Mapbox, OSM or something else for mapping but not Google Maps

I want to know why Google Maps is not popular with these frameworks?

Few to name

  • Leafletjs
  • Openlayers
  • Nebula.gl
  • Kepler.gl
  • 3
    This is more of a discussion topic, appropriate to Geographic Information Systems Chat, but less so for the Q&A main site.
    – Vince
    Mar 1, 2020 at 11:55
  • @Vince I couldn't find any discussion on the internet so I think instead of chat this should be archived here, let me know if chat can also do it
    – Muhammad
    Mar 1, 2020 at 13:44
  • 1
    This is answerable from a purely technical point of view - TL;DR: Google Maps doesn't offer a tile API, which makes integration difficult. Mar 3, 2020 at 14:46

1 Answer 1


It's because the TOS of Google Maps only allow you to consume their imagery and maps using their API. See Section 3.2.4 e) from https://cloud.google.com/maps-platform/terms/#3.-license-

(e) No Use With Non-Google Maps. Customer will not use the Google Maps Core Services in a Customer Application that contains a non-Google map. For example, Customer will not (i) display Places listings on a non-Google map, or (ii) display Street View imagery and non-Google maps in the same Customer Application.

If you don't, you are already doing something risky or maybe illegal (if in a pro context at least) You can always bypass the limitations by making calls to Google Maps through their JavaScript API and sync the view within OpenLayers, Leaflet or Mapbox.gl (both Kepler.gl and Nebula.js use it). Several libraries does that:

You also need to be aware that Google Maps is also not the cheapest solution as in recent years, the cost to run a web map application using Google Maps skyrockets (moreover now, even for free tiers, you need a credit card). The other sources cost really less and for most cases are enough and in some cases they also are better for example for bike maps when using OpenStreetMap.

  • 6
    I would add that the Google Maps source code is obfuscated, so harder to extend and debug. Also, Leaflet and OpenLayers have much better support for different projections Mar 1, 2020 at 12:04
  • For this part, the main problem to pure Google Maps API = you need to follow Google business decisions e.g new services, lost services and force upgrade due to their policy. You never know when the API changes may break your application. You suffer the same issue for pricing policy: you can't know what you will pay in the future.
    – ThomasG77
    Mar 1, 2020 at 18:26
  • To follow up @ThomasG77 last point with an example: stuff.co.nz/business/industries/104830692/… Mar 1, 2020 at 22:22

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