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Bad news about Google Maps

Google has announced that they are "streamlining" their tools for embedding maps and Street View imagery on websites. Once you get past all of the buzzwords in their announcement, this represents a massive price increase in their services starting June 11.

Some back-of-the-envelope calculations show that Bridgehunter.com, Landmarkhunter.com, and BridgeReports.com would be on the hook for $19,000 per year at current usage under the new pricing regime.

To mitigate this, I've immediately switched all three sites to use the "Embed" version of Google Maps which will remain free (at least for now). Unfortunately, this version is a definite downgrade: it does not offer Terrain view, the default zoom level always seems to be too close, part of the map is obscured by an overlay that can't be removed, and Google reserves the right to place advertisements within it.

The county maps, Exhibit maps, and editor tools require more advanced services that will cost $7 per 1,000 uses. Google is offering $200 per month credit, but it's possible that we'll blow past that limit even with the changes I've made. We'll have to cross that bridge when we get to it, so to speak.

I have been working on building my own mapping engine, although it's not quite ready to launch. You can try it out at Mapwhatever.com. But keep in mind, as the front page warns, "Things will break. And how!"

I'd love to eliminate the dependency on Google services entirely, but right now Street View imagery is simply too helpful to leave behind. But that might become necessary if Google keeps "streamlining" their services with more price increases.

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