Announcement: Changes to Google Maps
Please read this important information on changes to the maps we show on websites. If you don't act, maps will be removed from your website(s) on the date indicated below.
Google have announced changes to their Maps API service, which lets you embed maps on your website. We use this service to show maps on various pages on your website(s) and in mobile apps, for example in the Events Calendar to show where a venue is located.
We also use Google's Geocoding API service (part of their Maps platform), which lets us convert a street address into a set of geographic co-ordinates. We use this service in a couple of places, notably in the Events Calendar search facility, and within Aiir itself for calculating where venues are located based on their address, so a map can be displayed on your website.
Changes that Google are introducing
Here's a summary of Google's changes and their impact:
- Wherever a map is used, the request to Google must contain an 'API key' - this is a token which tells Google whose account is associated with the map being requested, and therefore permits it to be shown.
- The Google account associated with the API keys must have a billing account and a payment card on file.
- Previously if the number of requests hit a defined quota, the maps would just stop working. Instead going forward, maps will continue working but the card will be charged in a 'pay as you go' fashion.
- Because API keys are visible in the code of webpages, anyone can see them, take them and use them on their websites, potentially incurring costs to the account owner. Therefore the keys mustbe restricted to only work on the websites of the account holder. This is done by specifying whitelisted website URLs in the Google account.
Going forward, we're giving your organisation the option to register for a Google account of your own, adding your own billing account and card, and obtain API keys to use on your website and mobile apps.
Why are we doing this, rather than doing it ourselves on your behalf?
- As API keys must be secured and website domains whitelisted, it's necessary for web addresses to be entered into the Google account. It is not possible to automate this, so it must be handled manually. A small number of domains per account is very manageable, where as trying to maintain all of our customer web addresses in one account is not feasible.
- If one of our other customers experiences high traffic, we don't want this to have an affect on your sites or apps - therefore it makes complete sense for each customer to have their own account.
- Maps have not been a cost to us previously, and for low to moderate traffic sites we expect that to be the same when billed directly. However, we have experienced brief periods of time when maps have become unavailable because unusually high traffic has caused us to reach the limit of our account. We think it's fair for each customer to manage their account and the potential cost incurred due to the traffic reaching their website.
What we're doing and how things will change
- You can now go to a new section of Site Settings (Site Administrators only) called Maps and Geocoding which explains how to proceed and lets you enter your own API keys. Once you do, these keys will be used on your website.
- Currently, we're continuing to provide an API key to all of our websites, but as it is not restricted to just our websites, it cannot be maintained so we'll revoke it on July 6th 2018.
- After this date, if you have set up your own account, created the API keys and pasted them into our platform, maps will continue to appear on your website, and you will become responsible for the account associated with them.
- After this date if you have not set up your own account, maps will be removed from your website. We will continue to provide geocoding for search results via our own account though, for as long as we are able to offer this service - but to be safe we strongly recommend setting up a geocoding API key as advised and entering this into the settings page.