Holy crap, is the new Yahoo! Maps beta sweet. It looks quite a bit like Google Maps — which makes sense, since they both get their data from the same vendor — but it has a few features that go well beyond Google’s offering. My favorite is the interactive zooming and positioning tool that floats above the upper righthand corner of the map, which reminds me of a hopped-up-on-steroids version of the Navigator window in Photoshop and makes it a cinch to drill down to specific areas of a city you’re viewing. There’s also a checkbox for overlaying local traffic conditions onto the map, and the local search function is implemented incredibly well, with reasonably unintrusive tags overlying the map that can be opened and closed for a few different levels of information detail. The web programmer geek in me also loves that it’s an Ajax application implemented with full back-button and bookmarking support, and that there’s what appears to be a well-documented API available for people to use in integrating maps into their own websites. The only issues I can see are that there’s no satellite view (which Google Maps has made me come to rely on), and the “Printable Version” link throws a Javascript error for me in Firefox.

Update: I appear to have been a bit quick to assume; the new Yahoo! Maps beta is a Flash application, not an Ajax one, which makes a little more sense to this web geek. Note that this doesn’t make me have less respect for its designers, but rather explains how they were able to integrate all the cool features into one display interface… it’s still nicely done.