As independent interactive mapping experts, Earthware prides itself in making
recommendations to clients on the best mapping platform to use for their
specific project. Whilst we consider a number of factors of each mapping
platform, a key factor is the performance of each mapping platform, both in
speed of download and also speed of displaying information on the map.
Recently Bing has released a new
version of their AJAX map control, specifically mentioned improvements to
the mobile experience and performance as two of their new features. In this
article, Earthware will share our
experiences comparing the performance of Bing Maps AJAX version 7 with the
previous version 6.3.
The first performance metric we have compared is how long each version takes
to download the files it needs to display a basic map. This is primarily
affected by the size of the files specific to each platform downloads to the
client’s browser. We tested both the current, and previous, versions of the Bing
files needed for a basic map to be displayed. The chart below shows the results
of these tests.
The diagram above shows just how large a difference in file size there was to
load version 6.3 when compared to the reduced feature Bing Maps version 6.3
“core” control. However the latest Bing Maps release 7 employs a much smaller
download requirement due to the decrease in file size and clearly now leads the
field when compared to its predecessors.
research studies showing a strong correlation between the time it takes your
page to load, and visitor loss rate, combined with the increase in users viewing
sites over mobile connections, even the smallest of differences in download
sizes are an important consideration.
Map Data Loading Performance
The second performance criteria we have compared is time required for each
platform to load, and display, different numbers of pushpins on the map. As this
is greatly affected by the browser you are using, we have tested this in the
latest (at the time of testing), non-beta, version of each of the major
browsers. We have tested Bing Maps version 7 versus Bing Maps version 6 allowing
us to show the progress of the Bing Maps platform between version.
The test conducted recorded how long it takes to add 1, 10, 100, 500 and 1000
pushpins to the map. Whilst plotting 1,000 pushpins on the map is probably not a
sensible idea from a usability point of view, it does help demonstrate how well
each platform reacts under pressure.
These charts clearly demonstrate that Bing Maps version 7 is a significant
improvement in performance over its predecessor. It clearly demonstrates that
irrespective of the browser, the performance order of the two different versions
is consistent with Bing Maps version 7 outperforming the other 6.3 in the test
(and especially so in IE8 and Firefox).
What do these results show?
Although the two performance factors compared in these tests are not the only
performance factors worthy of consideration, these results are clearly
indicative of relative performance. If performance is a key factor when choosing
a mapping platform, these results would certainly indicate that the recent
commitment by the Bing Maps development team to improve performance means that
Bing Maps appears to lead the way in AJAX mapping platforms.
At Earthware we have recently
experienced more pressure from clients to make their mapping work well in mobile
environments. These results help us to feel confidence in making a
recommendation for the new Bing Maps AJAX platform for projects where
performance is the primary consideration.
Try these tests for yourself
If you want to try the map data loading
tests for yourself on your own machine the source code is available to download
*This is a guest post by Brian Norman of Earthware. He
recently compared performance of mapping APIs, including Bing and
Google. Here he writes on the changes we have made to the Bing Maps
API. For Brian’s full original post, go here or here.