Changes - July 2018

You may have heard about this:

Insane, shocking, outrageous: Developers react to changes in Google Maps API

Indeed, the price hikes are outrageous. Without making changes to the TPE web app, we'd be facing a monthly cost of between $3,000 and $5,000 (it varies with traffic).

That is obviously unsustainable.

In order to be able to keep TPE available, we are switching away from using Google's elevation and geocoding (address search) APIs.


For now, we will retain Google Maps. The monthly cost to us of doing so will be around $300 per month, typically. If you're a regular user of the TPE web app and haven't previously donated in support of it, we'd certainly be grateful for your support now - you'll find a Donate button on the right of the web app page.

To protect against unexpected traffic spikes (and therefore costs), we have limited the total number of map loads per day. On an unexpectedly busy day, you may find that the web app is temporarily unavailable if this limit is exceeded.

Elevation API

We have switched from using Google's Elevation API to Geonames. The Geonames data is not as "clean" as Google's, but is perfectly good for the vast majority of use cases and users. We use either SRTM3, AsterGDEM or GTOPO30 in that order of preference, based on the latitude in question.


The more impactful change is to switch away from Google's Geocoding API to use Geonames Search API. This change results in some less desirable limitations for searches.

While you previously could search using an address or specific streetname, you will now need to limit the search to place names, town or city names or countries. This is due to the behavior of the Geonames search API. (Geonames has a relatively new address geocoding API, but coverage is limited).

For example, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500 will now produce no results. However The White House will get you to where you need to be.

We'll keep investigating other options for improved (and economically viable) address search, but in the meantime, we appreciate your patience and understanding.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, you can contact us by opening a support request using the link on this page.

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  • 0
    Peter Simpson

    I fully support your moving away from Google maps.  Placename search is fine for my needs, and Open Street Map is getting better every day.  Geonames elevation is probably fine, as well.  

    Many thanks for your work on TPE app (have it) and the web version. 

  • 0
    Helen Hotson

    Would be much better if you went back to something similar to the old desktop program with the ability to save locations, you could offer it on a paid subscription and we could put our own google map api's in which is free for ample map views per day. I know there are many phone apps but tiny screens are not much use for serious photo planning. Also there aren't any serious alternatives to google maps and none with street view.

    Edited by Helen Hotson
  • 0

    Helen - that's not viable for a number of reasons:

    • The old desktop program is built on unsupported, insecure technology and Google Maps no longer supports it at all
    • The current web app has supported saving locations since day 1, and moreover, allows for location synch to the cloud
    • I can't find it right now, but I'm pretty sure that API key stuffing is contrary to the terms of service (one product/site - one key was always the rule, despite the fact that some apps blatantly contravene it)

    Small screens - yes, they have limitations. Google Maps - plenty of serious alternatives, but I agree they're hard to beat (and I don't know of an alternative to Street View).

  • 0
    Chip Jones

    I was curious if there was any update in regard to incorporating the ability to search specific addresses?

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