Tagged: APIs

Why do so many APIs offer geographic searches based on a single point and a radius, but not based on a bounding box using two points? Does your computer or mobile device have a round screen? If so, a radius search is perfect for you. But if your screen is rectangular, your search should be too. API designers need to wake up and realize that nobody has a round screen, and thus radius-based geo searches are vastly inferior to rectangular searches!

Here’s an example from Times Square. For a search at 42nd and Broadway, if you set the radius to be half the width of the screen, your search area would look like this green circle. On a square screen, those four corners outside the circle add up to 21% of the display (given a square display of width w, (w² – π×w²/4)/w² = 21%). For rectangular screens, it becomes higher. For example, putting a circle in a rectangle that’s twice as long as it is high means you are missing 61% of the display. This means you might not be including results that the user would expect to see. » Continue Reading…