Yahoo Maps gets its revenge Ryan 03 Nov 2005

35 comments Latest by Josh Petersen

Back in February I posted about how the Google understood the experience mattered in maps. Their big, “drag-me” maps were a quantum leap over the mini maps everyone else was touting.

Well, Yahoo’s back. The new Yahoo maps are back. I like Yahoo’s implementation, but they are also a little too ajaxy flashy for me. Too many show/hides. Too much animation. It slows things down more than it needs to.

I do think it will be interesting to see if Google responds here. One thing about Google is this: They release great stuff on v1, but then they seem to leave it alone. I don’t see much action on any Google product after their initial release.

35 comments (comments are closed)

sb 03 Nov 05

the only thing that i didn’t like about it was that after browsing around on the map, i had a bunch of yahoo entries in my history, so i had to hit the back button about 50 times to get back to where i thought i should have gone with a single back-click. other than that, very nice indeed. i enjoyed turning on the restaurant option and then dragging the map. it automatically went out and found all of the spots in the location i was browsing.

Jan 03 Nov 05

I think it will be interesting to see which one discovers Europe first.

not my real name 03 Nov 05

I don’t understand why you’re saying that it’s “ajaxy”, when it’s done in flash…

Rabbit 03 Nov 05

Ah, so it is in Flash. It doesn’t work for me in Firefox (1.07). (I have a Flash blocker but it usually gives me the option to enable Flash applets.)

Works in Opera though.

It’s verrry slow. I don’t like it. =( (But it looked nice and I’m sure it has potential!)

tim 03 Nov 05

@ not my real name : hahaha ! ;-)

Dave Simon 03 Nov 05

Even with the large amount of data, it should all be vector in Flash, and it should be a ton faster than it is! It’s extremely slow, so much so that it is unusable for me.

(Yes, I do know it is a beta.)

Dan Boland 03 Nov 05

I liked the mini window superimposed over the big window. Nice touch, though I’ll still use Google Maps if for no other reason than habit.

But I bet Mapquest crapped their pants. Again. =)

MH 03 Nov 05

I think it’s a close call between the two. Responsiveness seems pretty much the same to me, with a few minor hickups in the Yahoo dragging interface. Love the live traffic option!

sb: I think that is by design. They’ve overcome Ajax’s tendency to break the back button. Whether or not it’s what users expect, it’s nice to see that the back button can be made to work with Ajax (and yes, I know Yahoo were not the first to do it).

phil 03 Nov 05

I think it’s way better than google maps… the little zoom widget is great. For me it was very fast, but maybe I just got lucky.

Flash is probably a better technology for this than AJAX…

Will 03 Nov 05

I agree with Dan, the small window is a nice feature. I love how the zoom slider in the small window let’s you see approximately what you’ll be resizing the large window to, rather than Google’s vague clickable zoom positions that don’t have any hint as to their level.

Google should incorporate that somehow.

Matthew 03 Nov 05

I’m disappointed in this actually. They haven’t really done anything to improve the user’s ability to browse spatial data or find stuff using the spatial UI without a whole ton of dragging the mouse. The little map window widget is cute, but it’s gimmicky and doesn’t really help get people to the data level they need any more efficiently.

Multiple clicks and drags in a map interface is just as bad as doing it in any other type of user flow. Zoom to extent functionality would solve a lot of this wasted clicking and dragging, and it’s not hard to implement.

Kim Siever 03 Nov 05

The thing I did not like about it was the “Search this map” feature didn’t work on the map I was viewing.

John Bledsoe 03 Nov 05

Flash… non-starter. I’ve already told customer care, if they switch and don’t leave the current one, they’ve lost a user.

bill 03 Nov 05

I think it’s hilarious that 37s would call something too flashy. Basecamp has gotten nothing but flashier, with far too many show/hides, animations etc. for my taste.

As for Yahoo maps, I think it’s brilliant. It’s way faster than Google, runs fantastic on Opera (yea people use browsers other than Firefox and Safari) and the traffic overlay is awesome.

Kyle 03 Nov 05

I still like Gmaps better. The Ymaps site is choppy, the text blurs out strangely when zooming, and I actually don’t like the little zoom widget. Infact, I think Gmaps zoom widget, with it’s notches is a much more user friendly experience. Clicking on the Ymaps zoom widget moves much too fast, and doesn’t seem to scale the zoom appropriately.

Plus, I’m sorry, but it’s flash, and I have a hard time supporting it’s use if it’s not entirely necessary.

Oh, and someone needs to tell Yahoo to update their Yellow pages, they’ve a movie theater listed on ymaps in my area thats been out of business for 2 years.

Bryce Fischer 03 Nov 05

I believe Google Maps uses Flash too… Don’t know why everyone gets the panties in a wad over Flash…

Luke Redpath 03 Nov 05

Where does Google Maps use Flash?

mike 03 Nov 05

It has crashed Safari 2.02 on Mac OS X 10.4.3 when i zoomed in twice on my home state of Oregon… That sucks.

It is also a bit too lively.. The cursor flashes between mouse and hand icons several times a second (when not moving). I do like that they show major cities even when zoomed out to national views. that is handy.

Paul 03 Nov 05

Y!Maps has one killer feature that, for some reason, is lacking on online mapping apps: it lets you plot multiple points on a single map. Google Maps doesn’t do this. Y!Maps (non-beta) doesn’t. MapQuest doesn’t.

That feature alone will make me strongly consider switching from Google Maps.

Phil 03 Nov 05

Flash? No thank you.

(Google maps does not use Flash—that’s what’s so amazing about it.)

Steven Andrew Miller 03 Nov 05

It was very very slow compared to Google Maps. Yahoo refused to print the map along with text directions in Safari.

The thing that I wish Google Maps had, that the old Yahoo Maps has, is the small maps for the turn by turn directions. If I am traveling from one major city to a major city in another state, a zoomed out map of the free way does me very little.

Josh Petersen 03 Nov 05

The worst thing about Yahoo Maps API vs. Google continues to be the terms of use which exclude any commercial usage. Maybe Yahoo bought Flickr and so they could do the mashups - since neither would be permissible were they separate commercial enterprises.

Expect to see any business that wants to put maps on their site to keep using Google until Yahoo changes their TOU.

Shane Vitarana 03 Nov 05

I thought Google didn’t allow commercial use of their maps either?

Martin S. 03 Nov 05

I couldn’t find any way to zoom in on the map Yahoo provided, so I tried the most natural way to do it - scroll your mouse button - and it worked! Now that’s amazing and how stuff should be working!
You shouldn’t have to find how to do stuff - just do what seems to be the most natural thing to do and then the application will understand where you want to go.

Rob L. 03 Nov 05

I don�t see much action on any Google product after their initial release.

Huh? Google Maps’ Satellite View and Hybrid View were each introduced later on (Hybrid View is particularly great for house-hunting and exploring new towns or parts of town)… and just recently Maps merged fully with Local.

NathanB 03 Nov 05

Man, the world needs more traffic sensors.

pwb 03 Nov 05

The new Yahoo Maps are pretty nice. It appears that Flash does provide some incremental advantages. I wonder if they could be copied in the preferred DHTML/JavaScript.

I’m in the “Flash is a non-starter” camp. Just the “Loading Y! maps…” is cringe-inducing.

Bryce Fischer 03 Nov 05

I must have been mistaken. I could have sword the map loaded in flash, right clicking on it used to show the flash options…

But, no one has said why they think “Flash is a non-starter” for them? I have never run across a reason why not to like Flash (other than when people misuse it)

Peter Burns 03 Nov 05

I would say that Gmail has improved subtly but significantly over time. The new automatic saving of drafts is a very nice feature. Uploading attachments in the background while one writes an email is an unexpectedly pleasant improvement.

Aaron 03 Nov 05

Hey Matthew, Navigating around new Y!Maps is actually a snap. The only problem is that it’s not very discoverable yet. Just drag the little grey box in the overview map to quickly navigate and explore your way around the map.

Ed Knittel 03 Nov 05

Y!Maps development is nice in that you don’t need some CrAzY userid string for each and every map that you ever make. All you need is a simple map id that you can pick - I like that.

I like that the developer API is AJAX or Flash - that’s forward thinking and something GMaps should consider.

What I am wondering, though, is where is the developer user group to bounce ideas back and forth with people? Google made that abundantly clear from the get-go and it made making maps that much easier. I just think that their documentation is a bit stodgy right now.

David 03 Nov 05

Google Maps on the Desktop… and the ball’s back in Yahoo’s court.