CacheCrazy.Com: Why Not Wednesday - Give me back my Google Maps!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Why Not Wednesday - Give me back my Google Maps!

Welcome, reader and contributor George aka ggggeo2, thank you! This is a cool work around that let's you get back your Google Maps and you saw it first here at CacheCrazy.Com!
Tell all your friends and copy the link to everyone (we're pretty sure it works)!

Nothing says “I love you” like taking away someone’s Google Maps. You may have noticed that on this past Valentine’s Day, Groundspreak had scheduled maintenance which removed Google road, satellite, and hybrid maps from the list of available maps on the “search with maps” area. Several other cosmetic and functional changes were made as well; the full list can be found on Groundspeak’s discussion forums.
If you want to know why, read the next section. If you don’t care and just want your Google Maps back, skip ahead to Bring Back My Maps.

What Happened
At the end of 2011, Google announced a change to its terms of service and pricing for access to its Maps API (Application Programming Interface.) Formerly free, in 2012 that price would increase to $4 per 1,000 loads above 25,000 a day. This would only affect a very small portion of Maps API users. Groundspeak was one of them, using on average about 2,000,000 map views a day. At Google’s new pricing this is about $7,900 PER DAY (about 263 annual subscriptions at $30 per year.)
Groundspeak decided to replace Google Maps with OpenStreetMap (OSM), a mapping site that is freely editable in the same way that someone could go onto Wikipedia and edit the content of an article there. The current quality OSM in the United States is not on par with Google Maps, but that doesn’t need to be a permanent problem.

Why OpenStreetMap is Awesome
Being editable, users can add places, roads, parks, trails, and all other sorts of things to the maps. I have personally added several parks and trails to OSM, and those edits now show up for everyone on Geocaching.com. Here is one example of a park and walking paths I’ve added in Doylestown, PA. I also added parking areas, playgrounds, and restrooms where I knew them to be. Still more can be done there, but now we have the power to do so. Any other geocacher has the ability to go in and edit my work or build on top of it. Whereas Google lets you upload a GPX track and share it, OSM lets you upload a GPX file and trace it, and make that a trail that everyone in the world can see!

Bring Back My Maps
Not convinced, huh? That’s OK; Google Maps are really good, and the satellite view currently available on Geocaching.com is working sporadically at best as of this writing. So how do you get your Google Maps back? Three simple steps will do it for you. First, get the latest version of the free Mozilla Firefox web browser if you don’t already have it. Firefox is an alternate web browser, similar to Internet Explorer or Safari that comes pre-installed with Windows or Mac OS X, respectively. Second, install the Greasemonkey Add-on to Firefox. Third, install the “Geocaching.com extra map layers” user script into Greasemonkey. Load your Geocaching maps page and you will now see it is set back to Google as the default maps service, with a bunch of other services in the list.

First step: Get Firefox. Go to GetFirefox.com and click the big green button to start downloading the installer for the latest version of Firefox (currently 10.0.2.) Next, you’ll need to run the installer, from wherever you downloaded it. 

GetFirefox.com



You’ll need to answer a few general installer-type questions during the install, which should only take a couple minutes. Then, Firefox will ask you if you want to import your bookmarks from Internet Explorer and set Firefox as your default web browser; I’ll leave those choices up to you as you will still be able to use it for Geocaching with Google Maps either way.
Second Step: From inside of Firefox, you will need to go to the Greasemonkey Add-on page and install the Greasemonkey add-on. Click the “+ Add to Firefox” button in the middle of the screen, and then a little window will pop-up with a 3-5 second count-down timer asking if you are sure you want to install this Add-on. Yes, you do, so click “Install Now.”



Click "Install Now"


Third Step: Now that Greasemonkey is installed, you have one thing left to do: Install the “Geocaching.com extra map layers” user script. Click the “Install” button in the upper right, and you will be prompted to install this user script after a brief, 3-5 second delay. Again, yes, you do want to install this so click “Install”.


Click “Install”

And that’s it! You should now be able to go the a Geocaching map page in Firefox, and when you load it up you should see your old, familiar Google Maps instead of MapQuest. If you click in the Layers box in the upper right you should now see a big list of items instead of just the ones that were there.

Wheeee! New map choices!

Summary
Congratulations, you have your Google Maps back! Be forewarned that Groundspeak and/or Google may shut this off in the future, but at least for now you can have your Geocaching and Google Maps too. Some of the new features carry over like the new, faster pop-up cache bubbles and the new, translucent side bar. Some things are still missing, like the scale that tells you what kind of distance you are looking at. Enjoy your Google maps again and let us know how it worked out for you in the comments.




4 comments:

BLOODHOUNDED said...

Awesome information George and YES, it does work! I just did the change as you described and it now has Google as an option! Very cool.....
I will say, I like the idea of OpenStreetMaps and the fact that you can change them. Think of the possibilities? What I don't like is they are so slow to load! Or is that just me?
Thanks George, great work as some folks are really up in arms about the Google product being removed. This will help them out.

BigAl said...

Nice post George. You described it in a very informative and easy fashion. Unless I am doing a lot of traveling I don't use the maps too much. Yeah I do look at them, but I was one of those who did not care too much about the change. I know some people were really hot under the collar about it, and now they have a way to go in and get it back. Thanks.

George said...

Thanks guys! I just saw on Podcacher.com that this also now has been extended to Chrome! In Chrome, just go to http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/126244 and click Install. Next time you go to Geocaching.com maps, you'll have the old Google maps back with the Hybrid map as the default.

Paul DiNella said...

Ggggeo2, I still posted this first:)

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