There is a certain momentum one can feel when you follow the developments of web mapping as of late. Just yesterday it was announced that:
GitHub adds maps! Today’s launch allows any
GeoJSONfile hosted on GitHub to be rendered as a fully interactive visualization on top of a custom map designed to let the data stand out. Github is taking advantage of MapBox Streets’ new open source vector tiles, perfectly tailored to the company’s visual style, with a color palette that comes from GitHub’s branding and UI colors.
It wasn’t immediately clear how you make such maps but with a little trial and error I figured out how to made my own HelloWorldMap. (The trick is that you have you upload a file with an extension of .geojson as .json alone is not sufficient.)
With the embedding of OpenStreetMaps into the GitHub universe, OSM suddenly becomes much more visible as a resource that can support web and mobile development. Because it isn’t just the mapping technology itself that is important nowadays – it’s the data that it brings with it. From an analysis of Google’s recent purchase of Waze, comes this conclusion:
Google is killing it in the mapping world, arguably pulling away from the competition. They are doing this significantly because they own and control their own map data. They can build great, interactive map features without having to worry about either paying the commercial map vendors or hassling with their terms and conditions. They can update the data at will and design highly interactive user experiences without worrying that they have to pay for all those map “transactions” that others have to pay. In the future, this independence will give them an increasing advantage to build better experiences. And significantly, they will also collect much more data than their rivals….
… Buying that data set, plus the Waze team, would give a competitor not only a jump start into a mapping platform (the software that draws the maps, geocodes, routes, etc) but also to a proprietary map data base layer. That’s something rare and hard to do. Apple has the platform but not the data (they use TomTom and others). Yahoo and Microsoft use Nokia. No one else, except Nokia and TomTom own their own data.
If you don’t want to play in Google’s mapping universe, OpenStreetMap may just be the next best option. If just for the reason that Google can’t buy them.