• I think the main drawback of the Google Maps API is that we can't add our own vector data or raster imagery as one of the layers in the map. Is this correct? Or is there any alternative in the Google Maps API.

  • If I want to add some more features to the existing features, can I do it in the Google Maps API for free?

  • What are the advantages of the recent developments of OpenLayers or any other client-side scripts over the Google Maps API?

  • If I use the Google Maps API, I think I need not require any database, webserver etc...because everything - the creation of features - is done directly using Google Maps API. Is this correct? What should I prefer to use?

I am asking all this because I want to do a project based on webGIS and I am thinking of providing a webservice for my city. Can Google Maps API alone do that or would it be better handled by OpenLayers or LeafLet, or something else?

  • 1
    main drawback of google maps api is we can't add our own vector data or raster imagery as one of the layer in map Are you sure, plenty of people have Google Maps based sites with their own data on top.
    – Nathan W
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 14:28

2 Answers 2


Firstly, it is possible to add your own data on top of Google Maps, using Google Maps API. For example, this and this page show two different ways of adding a WMS service on to of Google Maps. You can easily add vectors as overlays.

OpenLayers has many advantages as compared to Google Maps API, including:

  • It is completely Open Source and standard compliant. It might not be useful to you, but it is a very important point for many people.
  • You are not at the mercy of Google Maps. Google can stop or change this service whenever they want to.
  • It gives your the ability to use data from more sources out of the box then Google Maps. You data can come from: WMS, WMST, WFS, GeoJSON, KML, ArcGIS server and so on.
  • You can have your map in any projection or spatial reference that you wish.
  • You can use any base map that you wish. You are not constricted to just Google Maps.
  • You have access to geographic operations, which are just missing in Google Maps.

I am not saying that the Google Maps API has no advantages over OpenLayers. Far from it. But you should think about your requirements and system limitations before selecting to use one of them.

  • if I use google satellite imagery as a basemap in openlayers, will it be a problem?
    – GP92
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 17:08
  • I have just gone through your links about adding wms layers in google maps api..just great!! thank you!! :)
    – GP92
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 17:18
  • @JeevanPatnaik: Yes you can use the Google Satellite Layer as a BaseMap in OpenLayers without any issue. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 3:08

Aside from technical considerations, you may prefer to use OpenLayers because the Google Maps API licensing terms may not be acceptable or affordable for your needs. See https://developers.google.com/maps/licensing for details.

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