New Google Maps URLs – Introduction

Google recently changed the whole look, feel and functionality of Google Maps to a new format, and has phased out the old Classic Maps pretty much completely. Frankly, given how close to perfect Classic Maps were, and how inferior the new version is, this seems a lot like Coca-Cola’s rollout of New Coke many years ago – except that Google’s not likely to backtrack the way Coca-Cola did. So, time to bite the bullet and start decoding the new system.

One of the many things that changed drastically is the URL format, and that’s what I will be exploring in this series of posts. This post will describe the general format of the Maps URL and provide a hyperlinked index of all subsequent posts for easy reference (items below which are not hyperlinks designate posts not yet made/completed).

Note that this will undoubtedly be a continual work-in-progress. Existing posts will be updated whenever I find new information; new posts will be added whenever called for.


Google Maps URLs all have the following ‘root’:

https://www.google.com/maps

Entering this alone will bring up a map centered at a default location and zoom level (which are apparently determined by how accurately Maps can determine your location). There are four types of sections which can be appended to this root URL (NOTE: the section names are mine; I have no idea what Google might call them):

DISPLAY_REQUEST – Specifies what the user wants to see displayed on the map. /search/… requests locations matching a set of search terms; /place/… requests a single, specific location; /dir/… requests a set of travel directions. These are covered in more detail in the Display Requests post.

MAP_POSITION – For regular maps, this specifies where the map is to positioned, and at what zoom level. For Street View, it specifies camera location, zoom and positioning. This section is described in detail in the Map Positioning post.

DETAIL_BOX – The only example I have seen of this section is /am=t. It causes the box with driving route details to appear if a set of directions has been requested which has no missing stops; otherwise it has no effect.

DATA_OPTIONS – Specifies additional clarifications to the request made and/or display parameters. All available options which I have identified are listed in the Data Options Reference post, and many are explained in more detail in the various posts which follow it.

These four sections may appear in any order, except that the DETAIL_BOX and DATA_OPTIONS sections cannot appear first in order. By default, Maps will put them in the same order that I have listed them above. Also, you should note that if you enter a URL that is not in the form that Maps would produce, Maps will rearrange and restructure it, including adding any “missing” elements. Occasionally this will result in a URL which will not reproduce the same map or view (I will try to note these situations in the relevant posts, where applicable).


These are the posts with more detailed information about the new Maps URL format:

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2 Responses to New Google Maps URLs – Introduction

  1. georgio8 says:

    Does anyone already have a JS function to decode the data section, e.g. to translate it to JSON?

  2. mstickles says:

    Not that I’m aware of, unless it’s possible via the Google Maps JavaScript API. But I could easily have missed something. Anyone else out there know?

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