Introducing CARTO on Google Platform: An Alternative to Google Maps Engine


CARTO on Google Platform – your Maps Engine replacement! Migrate effortlessly with powerful features. CARTO, the ideal solution for your mapping projects.

This post may describe functionality for an old version of CARTO. Find out about the latest and cloud-native version here.
Introducing CARTO on Google Platform: An Alternative to Google Maps Engine

We have created a CARTO on Google Platform product product. If you are looking for a Maps Engine replacement  please review our new offering. You can also find an explanation of features and benefits of CARTO  and information about migrating your existing projects.

What do both services offer?

The services in CARTO and Maps Engine are very similar - including a web interface to manage data and create maps  and a set of APIS to access data  request maps  and create applications. The following illustrates service parity across the two platforms:


Editor and User Interface

Editor and User Interface

Google Maps Engine provides a simple interface for interacting with your hosted data and maps. At CARTO  we offer additional benefits. We’ve worked hard to refine the process of working with maps and geospatial data online through simple interfaces and intuitive interactions. We are constantly improving  measuring and refining those interfaces.
The ease-of-use in the CARTO Editor has quickly made it a favorite among university educators  data analysts  sales managers  and journalists. Maps are no longer just for for developers!


Editor and User Interface

Input Data Formats

Both Google Maps Engine and CARTO offer support for a broad range of data formats and file types  including point  line  polygon and raster import  as well as analysis and rendering. And in addition to those file types and formats  CARTO also supports file extensions such as GeoJSON and GPX.

.csv  .tab  .shp  .kml  .kmz  .xls  .xlsx  .geojson  .gpx  .osm  .bz2  .ods
.shp  .csv  .kml  .kmz  .tab
.tif  .hgt  .dem  .bag  .dt0  .dt1  .dt2

APIs and Platform

CARTO and Google Maps Engine expose full suites of APIs that allow developers to leverage everything from data import to map creation. What this means is that most of the functionality you see in the CARTO Editor actually runs on APIs that can be leveraged from your own applications and interfaces.

       MAPS API
       REST API
       SQL API
       Authentication using OAuth with Google ID.
       Import API

For users looking to leverage geo-processing capabilities  CARTO offers access to a library called PostGIS which enables a comprehensive list of GIS and data filtering functions  including buffers  intersections  proximity searches  and more.

Authentication and Identity Management


Sign in with Google button

Google Maps Engine authentication is based on the Google Authentication system  including support for Enterprise accounts. To enable a smooth transition to CARTO  we now give organizations on Enterprise accounts the ability to use Google Authentication for single sign-on and identity management. If you are interested in other authentication connectors  such as LDAP  let us know and we can explain what is possible.

What types of maps can you make?


Different CARTO Styles

In terms of map design  Maps Engine took a slightly different approach when exposing customization tools to the user. Both services allow the user to interact with simple wizards to modify the style data on the map. When you dig deeper  Google Maps Engine had created a unique JSON structure for applying styles to maps. Alternatively  CARTO exposes CartoCSS to users. CartoCSS is a more widely used map styling language that is immediately comfortable for anyone familiar with CSS.
For users switching to CARTO from Maps Engine  the CartoCSS language will still allow for attribute- and zoom-dependent styling. It will also open up a wide range of new features to leverage for your maps  including better control of color  scale  and positioning.

How can you leverage the Google Maps API?

When looking for an alternative  the ability to use these APIs will be a key consideration for many Maps Engine fans. Fortunately  we have built CARTO so that the full set of tools available in the Google Maps API toolkit can be used with data hosted on our services. Any API you might aim to build on is included in the services - from Google basemaps to Street View  Directions API  and Traffic API.

To help get you started  we've put together a set of examples that show how you can use custom data hosted on CARTO with Google Maps API methods. Take a look at the full set of examples:

How do the services compare in terms of performance and scalability?

A key benefit to Google Maps Engine users is access to the Google infrastructure for their own products. You might be surprised to know that CARTO can actually run on the Google Cloud Platform (as well as other infrastructures) and that we have created a specific server cluster within Google Platform. If you are interested in using this feature  ask us about CARTO on Google Cloud.


Google Cloud Platform

In addition to the location where CARTO can be run  we have developed technology that enables us to provide world class performance and reliability in our services  no matter who runs them. For example  some of the world’s most popular websites use CARTO to regularly publish maps to their viewers. Our services scale and adapt to handle every possible user. Here are some of the ways we do it:

If you are interested in more details on the CARTO on Google Cloud solution  ask us for an early look at our forthcoming white paper detailing its performance in real-world scenarios. We have seen sustained performance at more than 50 000 requests per second and updates every 10 seconds.

Finding the Right Data

Often one of the hardest parts to making a map is finding the right data with which to get started. As a solution  Google Maps Engine offered public datasets that users could query. Similarly  CARTO provides frequently requested data such as Natural Earth and USGS datasets for simple integration with your own data. On top of these curated datasets  CARTO also gives users access to Twitter Firehose  MaxMind IP address database  and other sources of data to create maps from the most interesting data on the web.


Merge data with CARTO

Data Migration Options

There are three existing options for you to use. The process to manually download your data from GME and import it into CARTO is straightforward for many users. If you need more or have a lot of data  we have been working with two of our certified partners  AppGeo and HabitatSeven  to create a migration tool to help ensure the migration process is smooth and complete. The tool authenticates with Google and using the ogr2ogr tool moves data from GME to CARTO. It is as easy as selecting the tables you want to migrate and entering your API keys. Finally  the third option is FME

We will make an announcement about the migration tool very soon  stay tuned!


Fme to migrate your GME data to CARTO

In Conclusion

We know that a lot of existing Google Maps Engine users are going to be looking for a similar set of tools to maintain their projects without significant changes. For users and developers that have grown to rely on the service  we want you to know that there is no need to panic. CARTO provides an excellent service that is a viable alternative for the complete Maps Engine product. Both services were built to be fast  scale to millions of requests  and simplify your development of geospatial projects.

We have been working to provide a solid offering called CARTO on Google Cloud Platform and to ensure that Maps Engine customers will have all the power of Google Maps API available on CARTO. We already have several Maps Engine projects in migration and several partners assisting.

Are you interested in moving from Google Maps Engine to CARTO today? Get in touch to talk to one of our experts about using our custom migration tool to move your hosted data with ease. We can talk through your project needs and timelines and come up with a plan for your move to CARTO right away.

We can’t wait to see what you build on top of Google Maps and CARTO!