Monday, October 20, 2008

Google Maps v Melways

I use both because they both have some useful features that the other doesn't have. I tend to use Google Maps more often, especially since its Street View facility began, although so far as I know, not in the UK yet. Wish they would hurry up.

Melways, as we Melburnians know it, can be found at . They have mapped Australia, but without the attention to detail in some areas, although the coverage of Sydney pretty well matches Melbourne now.

The good about Melways:

  • It has a centre mark on the maps, so you can drag the map and centre whatever you want to look at very easily
  • It has post codes on the map and it has much more detailed information than Google Maps
  • It looks much more stylish
  • It shows traffic lights
  • It shows properties for sale very easily
  • It shows tram stop numbers, very useful
  • It shows one way streets, speed humps, blocked streets etc
  • It shows the name of our building and its location
Against Melways:
  • It will not remember a 'home' map
  • It search facility is unforgiving if you make a typo or get a name wrong
  • You cannot use the scroll wheel to enlarge or reduce a map. Instead you have to select one of seven sizes
  • It does not show land block borders (note USA readers, a block in Australia is a single titled plot of land, not an area between streets)
  • It does not show land block numbers
  • You have to click from box to box to enter search information (tip, use the tab key when filling in forms with boxes to jump to the next box. Maybe only Firefox)
For Google Maps
  • It quickly loads the home map when opened
  • If all you want is just the location of street, without much other information, it is quick
  • Its search facility is excellent. Just type in the address in a single box and if a mistake is made, you will probably still find what you want
  • It shows blocks of land
  • It shows street block numbers
  • It covers the world, not just Australia
  • As well as being able to enlarge or reduce a map with the mouse scroll wheel, it has other easy to use controls
  • You can make all sorts of customised maps easily
  • It has Street View
Against Google Maps
  • Lacks much detail and information
  • It is infrequently updated and there seems to be little local input of knowledge. EG It is many years since the South Melbourne Tram Depot was demolished and yet the map still shows tram tracks crossing Kingsway and into the old Depot.
  • They left the highrise off the map
  • The Street View photos are not of great quality and it seemed to be a bit of a rushed job
  • Some areas are not covered, reasonably important areas in some cases
But, and it is a big but, Melways now has Street View too. It is still in Beta state, it is clunky and difficult to use and not very intuitive but the photos are great, with a much higher resolution. I look forward to the big improvements to come.


  1. "...although so far as I know, not in the UK yet."

    The sheep over here are a bit parochial and keep attacking the Google photographers.

  2. Anonymous6:55 pm is excellent...and doesn't automatically show the street I want to go to on Google Maps.

    Speaking of which, I actually feel depressed when I do the street-view for Melbourne's outer suburbs. I'm sickened by the lack of proper planning regulations, transport links or indeed greenery.
    Just try'll see what I mean.

  3. Anonymous7:55 pm

    I didn't even know Melways did an online thing!

    Once I found myself printing out google map directions far too often (and if you miss the proper turnoff you're screwed) I figured it was time to buy a TomTom.

  4. I assume there is some truth in this Brian? Odd, given that the photographers drive around in cars with the a roof mounted camera.

    Reuben, one of my very early posts was about various suburbs and what I thought of them. I think I offended one blogger who is gay and works in the same area as myself and has never commented on my blog since or made any contact since. One of my dear blog mates, on the blog roll lives in the area you mentioned, so I am keeping my mouth shut except for saying, if you have a young family and you don't have a lot of money, your options are quite limited. If you were to live in such an area, you would adjust.

    TDW, Melways online was around long before Google Maps. So the TomTom was worth the money? It hasn't been stolen?

  5. Anonymous9:22 pm

    I but I agree with you fully, Andrew. It's just I feel, personally anyway, that it's depressing. I have never blamed residents who live there for their environment. I point my finger squarely at a history of poor planning, VCAT stupidity and Labor.

    Oh well...what can you do?

    Vote Green for starters...

  6. "...the photographers drive around in cars with the a roof mounted camera."

    Trust me Andrew...the sheep have pogosticks.

  7. Voting Green is probably fairly well preaching to the converted among my blog readers Reuben.

    Funny you mention pogosticks Brian. I saw a lad using one the other day and I have not seen one for years. It was of a similar finish to razers, those scooter things with the little wheels that were popular a year or so ago. He bounced along the roadway and bounced up into a tram.

  8. Google Maps lacks visual clarity but Melway street directory, published in 1966, has good clarity. Melway is still print orientated.

  9. My Melways is a god send, especially considering I came to Melbourne from a town where it was possible to memorise every street and moved into a job where I was travelling all over Melbourne. Google street view is great in my current job as it allows you to find out what a business you're delivering to looks like as well as the surrounding buildings, I wasn't aware Melway were launching a similar product though. Each has its strengths but by far the best way to go is a nav system, I use a Navman and it is the best thing ever, plus you don't have to plan your route as it does it for you and recalculates if you end up off course. Pure genius and simple enough for a technophobe like me to understand. The only drawback is that you have to take it down and hide it from view when parked, mind you, that takes all of about 20 seconds to do.

  10. I'll be having a play with Melway's street view.
    Not that I need to go anywhere, just coz I can :P

  11. Anonymous11:03 am

    TomTom was DEFINITELY worth it. Especially if you often go places you've never been before, or are inclined to get lost. Once for work I had to travel a simple ten minutes down Sydney Road, but I accidentally ended up on the Ring Road, then when I tried to take the first exit I ended up on the Napean or something. The next thing I knew I was in Sunshine. A 20 minute round trip turned into a 2 and a half round trip!

  12. Thanks Leany, I think.

    TomTom v Navman is almost as bad as Holden v Falcon Kezza. It would only be a toy to play with for me, mostly.

    Let me know what you think Jayne? Not so user friendly yet?

    Well TDW, that is what you told your boss anyway.

  13. It's a bit fiddly, def room for improvement but not too shabby ;)

  14. Nothing beats a paper version of the Melway, sure its the equivalent of carrying around half a small tree stump, but for pure ease of use and wealth of information the paper Melway wins. Armed with a Melway I think I could almost equal google maps in terms of search speed anyway.

    I like google maps too, good for looking things up (and wasting time) at work.

    Haven't used for a few years. I especially hated the awkward map navigation. It is interesting that they are getting street view. I switched to whereis for a while before google maps began to improve its Australian coverage

  15. I use Google Earth, so you can see what the surrounds actually look like. The address can be put in and it takes you straight there, and street names and roads can be overlaid.

  16. Agree Ben, and I can look things up quicker in the paper version. Also, you don't get a sense of perspective or overall view. The Post office had a Pocket UBD directory, one year old for $5, so I bought one to carry when on foot. It is quite good, but I am used to Melways map numbers. I have tried Whereis, but ages ago. I should have another look.

    Yes Bliss, very useful, especially if an area is hilly. You get a better sense of the topography.