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Map API vendor features

The definitive Map API buying guide

If your use case and requirements are even remotely specific, the most important is to select the right vendor, to check its support plan, SLA, and especially the responsiveness to custom feature requests.

On-premises solution

Although a perfectly reasonable feature to ask for, on-premisses hosting is extremely rarely offered. On-premisses map services are more difficult to secure, maintain, and offer decent performance on commodity hardware.

At the moment, besides the open-source variants, only Mireo and Mapbox offer on-premises installation.

However, Mapbox's on-premises location platform Altlas comes with some drawbacks:

  • There is no Routing API.
  • Atlas Search does not include POIs (points of interest).
  • Coverage is partially limited.
  • The default map update frequency is once a year.

Mireo's Compact Maps offer the complete set of map APIs, including Geocoding and Routing API, professional or open-source maps with quartal or weekly map updates, with high performance on commodity hardware.

Feature-request development

Mid-sized companies can react faster to changes and customers' requests.

Large companies (Google, Here, TomTom, Mapbox) usually aren't willing to invest in software adjustments until requests reach critical mass. Conversely, small and mid-sized companies are more flexible, responsive and have a bigger incentive to make custom features.

Dedicated support engineer and feature development, if available, are usually part of paid support plans.

Higher burst rates

API burst rate is probably one of the most neglected features. End-users and use-case dictate not only the monthly volume of APIs but also typical and burst rates. Therefore, it's worth checking if the Map API vendor support desired request rates and at what cost.
 Higher burst rates are usually part of premium or custom support plans.

Combining SDK with 3rd party APIs will not necessarily always be possible. To protect the brand identity and its quality of service, some vendors prohibit the use of APIs outside of the corresponding SDK.

Simple pricing

Pay per use or Pricing per request is the most common pricing model. Or pricing per transaction, to be precise. It's essential to read the FAQs to discover what a particular API vendor defines as a transaction and how much a transaction costs.

For example, due to technical implementations, map loads or Tile API has the most intricate pricing structure. Make sure to check the Caveats of web map display pricing for more details.

On the other hand, Geocoding, Reverse Geocoding, and Routing APIs are, as one might expect, typically charged per request. The only exception is Matrix API, used in the route optimization, which is charged per the product of the origin and destination locations.

Usage Policy and Licensing

To protect their investment, many vendors restrict the usage of 3rd party APIs with proprietary SDKs.

Caching, storing, or exporting any content derived from Map APIs is frequently forbidden. Typically, only limited amounts of content can be stored and solely for internal development.

Epecially on-premises solutions demand specific hardware and/or software, so make sure to check the installation requirements to avoid unpleasant surprises.

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Check how Compact Maps ticks the boxes of your Map API buying checklist!