Today is an important milestone here at Google and we’re all pretty excited - the Google Maps API turns 5! It was five years ago today that we posted a brief announcement to let the world know about the JavaScript Maps API and now 5 years later more than 350,000 active websites make use of it. Uses have ranged from tools that have made it easier to find an apartment, track the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and even make an Earth sandwich! Many, many more examples have been chronicled on sites like Mashable and the Google Maps Mania blog.

In 2005, Adrian Holovaty launched the first crime mashup that overlaid Chicago’s public crime data onto online maps providing Chicago’s citizens and journalists with a true picture of crime in their city. The site won the 2005 Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism and was named by The New York Times as one of 2005's best ideas.

In honor of this very special birthday, we took a chance to check back in with Adrian to see what he thought about the journey of the Google Maps API over the past 5 years:

Of my 11 years of doing Web development, Spring 2005 was the most interesting and exciting time. When Google Maps launched -- with maps assembled client-side, in JavaScript! -- I was one of the band of tinkerers around the globe who poked at Google's obfuscated code until we figured out how to embed their maps in our own pages. It was a ton of fun, not only doing the reverse engineering, but seeing the various discoveries and hacks other people were making: embedding multiple maps in a single page, swapping out the map tiles, using custom map markers, making markers move, loading real-time data onto maps... New discoveries were being made on a seemingly daily basis, and the best ones built on the other ones, which led to a sense of a community contributing to a greater understanding.

These days, it's hard to fathom a Web without embeddable maps. Wasn't it always that way? To Google's eternal credit, instead of shutting these hacks down, they recognized the demand and legitimized it in the form of their mapping API.

And the rest is... well, kind of boring in its simplicity, now that reverse engineering isn't involved. There was something raw and pure about those original hacks, like hunting and skinning your own food, living off the land, a digital self-sustainability. I feel like an old man yelling at kids to get off my lawn: ‘Back in my day, I had to reverse engineer Google's obfuscated JavaScript to get embeddable maps on my pages!’ You don't know how good you have it.”

The Google Maps API has seen some significant milestones of its own during the past five years. Some of the announcements we’re most proud of are the Maps API for Flash, Static Maps API, our Enterprise offering Maps API Premier, and the new Maps API v3, built with mobile use cases in mind and recently graduated from Code Labs.

The Google Maps API has established itself as the most popular Google API and the most deployed service-based API on the web. We continue to be amazed by how popular this API continues to be for web and mobile apps being developed today. This ProgrammableWeb dashboard shows that of the apps built and submitted over the past 2 weeks, a quarter of them make use of the Google Maps API. Click the 'All Time' tab and you'll see that nearly half of the almost 5000 cataloged mashups use it.

Today, on this 5 year milestone, we really have all of you to thank for this incredible chapter in web and mapping development. The remarkable levels of innovation, creativity and interest have come from all of you. You saw the possibilities the Google Maps API held and what it could be combined with to create, and you built it. Now join us to celebrate! Keir Clarke from Google Maps Mania has created a mashup that we want all of you to contribute to. Since we can’t all share a giant cake, I think it’s fitting that we all build a giant mashup of mashups to mark this special API birthday. Please tag your Google Maps mashup or tool to the map wherever you are:

We’re looking forward to the next 5 years of mapping innovation together with all of you!


Last year, we launched the Google Qualified JS Maps Developer Program. This qualification, and your inclusion in the directory, will help interested parties contract with you for their geo development projects. Hot on the heels of the Maps API V3 graduation we are now announcing an update to the program which now includes JS Maps API V3 Developer Qualification. What does this entail, exactly?

The Google Qualified Developer program uses a version release and points threshold strategy rather than setting an absolute term on earned qualifications. Instead of picking an arbitrary duration such as one year, developers have the opportunity to continuously earn points towards their qualification by resubmitting assignments and assisting with exam updates and testing.

Current JS Maps API developers earned a minimum of 3000 out of a possible 5000 points in order to become qualified. To earn these points, they submitted practical evidence of their programming capabilities by writing applications, demonstrated their commitment to the developer community, supplied professional references, and passed the JS Maps API Exam.

Now that JS Maps V3 has been released, the developers who did not participate in early testing have been notified of potential points expiration. Developers will have 30 days to take the new V3 exam, and submit new applications using the V3 API. To read more about the program, take a look at our site. We look forward to expanding our API support and growing the Developer Qualification program. Please reach out to us with questions and feedback at

(Cross posted from the Google Code Blog)

Thanks from the Geo API team for a making Google I/O a great event yet again! We really look at I/O as being for developers by developers, so each year our API engineering team makes the pilgrimage from Sydney, Australia to personally present the new APIs and features they’ve spent most of their time working on. These features and new APIs are, in most cases, requested by the Maps API community so it’s a real thrill for us to deliver on these requests in person.

For those that were unable to make it, we’ve got you covered! The following is a summary of the key Geo API announcements that were made, along with a link to each session page that (as of today) now includes full videos and presentation materials. To bookmark all Geo sessions, use this YouTube playlist. Refill the coffee and get comfy!

As our new and existing Maps APIs continue to evolve we would love to stay connected with you. Be sure to join our Google Group, check out the Geo Developers Blog or follow @GoogleMapsAPI on Twitter!