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.

2 Answers 2


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.


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.

  • 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
    Commented Dec 24, 2010 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.) Commented Jan 18, 2011 at 19:47

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