Comparison of Geocoding Services

A client needed a web application with, among other features, geocoding—given an arbitrary string specifying a location anywhere in the world, find the latitude and longitude of that location. Google and Bing seem to have the best APIs for this, for the following reasons:

  • Global. Other APIs provide geocoding only of US addresses.
  • Parses the query string you provide. Other APIs require you to parse out country, address, postal code, etc. Bing actually allows both types of queries.
  • Web-based. Other APIs require downloaded software to be integrated into your application. Google and Bing support XML "Web Services" and JSON RESTful APIs

Other services I considered:

  • Caspio is interesting, but not really an API. Rather, they add latitude/longitude columns to locations entered into your Caspio database.
  • DOTS Address Geocoding provides US addresses only. Also, you must parse out the city, state, and postal code.
  • Pitney Bowes appears not to have a web based service (except for trial testing). Also, you must parse out the city, state, and postal code.
  • Melissa DATA works for US addresses only, and requires a specific format including address, city, and state.
  • Yahoo! has a RESTful API that allows entry of free text, but it must be in a specific format.

Tags: Technical

Updated at: 14 September 2010 4:09 PM

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