Yesterday in the Geowanking mailing list (yes it seems to still be alive), Steve Coast posted about a new project he’s been working on.

I figured this is a good group to give a peek at something I worked on last month:

The premise is that a typical geocoder uses a large chunk of code to import a large database in to a large geocodable database. Then another large chunk of code is used to actually take a string and geocode it against this large imported dataset. At the end of all of this all you’re typically doing is showing some bbox for some string like “London” which the user typed in.

So wait, another geocoder? About says Steve:

The major differentiators against other sites are that the IP licensing is clear, all bboxes are derived from imagery we have rights to, the bbox & string data is put in the Public Domain. It’s trivial to use. The API saves misses for later fixing. It’s hard to find a site that does 2 or 3 of those.

Basically Microsoft is donating the imagery to the project so that anything created is in the Public Domain. Still, people seem nervous about a Microsoft license. I’m of the mindset to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt here, especially given that Steve has put his name on this project. The API seems dirt simple:Simple OpenGeocoder API Calllink

And you can export everything out as a data dump:OpenGeocoder Data Dumplink

It will be interesting to see what the community does with this new resource. A Geocoder is only as good as the data inside and if the community is required to make this one work, we’d better get cooking.