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OpenLayers vs OpenStreetMap: What are the differences?

Introduction

OpenLayers and OpenStreetMap are both powerful tools used in creating interactive maps on websites. While OpenLayers is a JavaScript library for creating map-based applications, OpenStreetMap is a collaborative platform for creating and sharing map data. Although they have some similarities, there are key differences between the two. Below are six specific differences between OpenLayers and OpenStreetMap.

  1. License: The first notable difference is the licensing of the two platforms. OpenLayers is released under the BSD license, which allows users to freely modify and distribute the library. On the other hand, OpenStreetMap is released under the Open Database License (ODbL), which requires attribution and share-alike conditions for the data created by its contributors.

  2. Functionality: OpenLayers is primarily focused on providing a powerful and flexible JavaScript library for building map-based applications. It offers a wide range of functionality, including displaying map layers, handling user interactions, and integrating with various data sources. OpenStreetMap, on the other hand, is a collaborative mapping platform where users can contribute and edit map data. It focuses more on providing a community-driven map database.

  3. Data Source: Another significant difference lies in the data sources used by the two platforms. OpenLayers can consume map data from various sources, including OpenStreetMap. It allows users to integrate data from different providers or even create custom map layers. On the contrary, OpenStreetMap relies entirely on its own community-contributed data. It does not provide built-in support for consuming external data sources.

  4. Map Styling: OpenLayers provides extensive support for customizing map styles and appearance. It allows users to define their own map styles or apply pre-designed styles through the use of style functions and style classes. OpenStreetMap, on the other hand, mainly focuses on presenting map data in a standardized style that is consistent across its platform. Users have limited control over the map's visual presentation.

  5. Community and Collaboration: OpenLayers has a well-established community of developers and users. It provides extensive documentation, API references, and user forums for support and collaboration. However, it does not have a collaborative platform for directly editing map data. OpenStreetMap, on the other hand, has a vibrant and active community of contributors who actively edit and improve the map data. It provides collaborative tools for users to contribute and maintain the map database.

  6. Accessibility: OpenLayers is designed to be a highly accessible library, following web accessibility standards and guidelines. It supports assistive technologies, keyboard navigation, and compliant HTML markup for better accessibility. OpenStreetMap, while striving to make its platform accessible, does not have the same level of accessibility considerations. The map data created by the contributors may vary in terms of accessibility features.

In summary, the key differences between OpenLayers and OpenStreetMap lie in their licensing, focus on functionality, data sources, map styling options, collaboration features, and accessibility considerations. OpenLayers is a JavaScript library for building map-based applications with a wide range of functionality, while OpenStreetMap is a collaborative platform for creating and sharing map data.

Advice on OpenLayers and OpenStreetMap
  1. I would like to input a spreadsheet with names and associated addresses into a map program to; pinpoint all of the locations on a map. How can I do that? On which map? Are there field size limitations? All help would be appreciated.

  2. There is a subdivision that is about one(1) mile by 3/4 mile in size. Is there a map program that would create the most efficient way to drive all of the streets in the subdivision without a lot of doubling back?

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Replies (1)

You could use a low-code platform to read the spreadsheet and use them as input for the pin pointing. The most expert provider would HERE or TomTom for the best routing algoritmes. Input parameters would be dependent on the chosen provider.

I see your stack is mostly Google and I am not familiar with that. But we have implemented this through the M365 Teams/SharePoint, Excell, MS PowerPlatform, our WMS and Azure.

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From a StackShare Community member: "We're a team of two starting to write a mobile app. The app will heavily rely on maps and this is where my partner and I are not seeing eye-to-eye. I would like to go with an open source solution like OpenStreetMap that is used by Apple & Foursquare. He would like to go with Google Maps since more apps use it and has better support (according to him). Mapbox is also an option but I don’t know much about it."

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Replies (6)
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MapboxMapbox

I use Mapbox because We need 3D maps and navigation, it has a great plugin for React and React Native which we use. Also the Mapbox Geocoder is great.

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Blair Gemmer
Software Engineer at VYNYL · | 2 upvotes · 166.9K views
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Google MapsGoogle Maps

Google Maps is best because it is practically free (they give you $300 in free credits per month and it's really hard to go over the free tier unless you really mean business) and it's the best!

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Recommends
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OpenStreetMapOpenStreetMap

I use OpenStreetMap because that has a strong community. It takes some time to catch up with Google Maps, but OpenStreetMap will become great solution.

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Shuuji TAKAHASHI
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Google MapsGoogle Maps

I use Google Maps because it has a lot of great features such as Google's rich APIs, geolocation functions, navigation search feature, street map view, auto-generated 3D city map.

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Recommends
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OpenStreetMapOpenStreetMap

Its open source and we use it.

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Fabio Fraga Machado
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OpenStreetMapOpenStreetMap

I use OpenStreetMap because i have the control of the environment, using Docker containers or bare-metal servers.

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Pros of OpenLayers
Pros of OpenStreetMap
  • 15
    Flexibility
  • 11
    Maturity
  • 8
    Open Source
  • 7
    Incredibly comprehensive, excellent support
  • 4
    Extensible
  • 4
    Strong community
  • 4
    Choice of map providers
  • 3
    Low Level API
  • 1
    OpenStreetMap
  • 22
    Simple
  • 17
    Free
  • 9
    Open-Source
  • 7
    Open-Data
  • 1
    React/ RNative integration

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What is OpenLayers?

An opensource javascript library to load, display and render maps from multiple sources on web pages.

What is OpenStreetMap?

OpenStreetMap is built by a community of mappers that contribute and maintain data about roads, trails, cafés, railway stations, and much more, all over the world.

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What companies use OpenLayers?
What companies use OpenStreetMap?
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What tools integrate with OpenLayers?
What tools integrate with OpenStreetMap?

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What are some alternatives to OpenLayers and OpenStreetMap?
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