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google maps distance

Excel VBA Calculate distance between two addresses or coordinates

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Ever wanted to calculate the distance between two addresses in Excel? I recently had the following issue: from a list of over approx. 50 administration offices across my city I wanted to find the one that is closest to my workplace. Of course open Google Maps and type each location one by one… and then choose the shortest connection. By why bother when we have Google Maps Distance Matrix API!!!

This post includes information on how to calculate the distance in Excel:

To get the COORDINATES of any ADDRESS read this post

Using the Google Maps Distance Matrix API

Google has a lot of useful API out there and I encourage you to go sometime to the Google API Explorer and have a look at what other information you can easily utilize from Excel or your other applications.

Let’s however focus on getting the distance between two addresses. Google facilitates Google Maps Distance Matrix API for limited usage.

The API is configured using GET HTTP Params. A simple example below.
Say we want to get the distance between San Francisco and Victoria BC. We want to get there by bicycle. Copy this link into your browser:

https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/distancematrix/json?origins=Vancouver+BC|Seattle&destinations=San+Francisco|Victoria+BC&mode=bicycling&language=en
Google Distance between Vancouver, BC, Canada and San Francisco, CA, USA
Google Distance between Vancouver, BC, Canada and San Francisco, CA, USA

Google Distance Matrix Builder

Want to quickly test the Google API? Below a simple form for building a quick Distance URL. Simply type in the From an To addresses, select the transportation mode and hit Build URL!. Go here for more options for configuring the Google Maps Distance Matrix API.

From:
To:
Mode:

Google Maps Distance Matrix URL:

Calculate distance between two addresses using Google Maps in Excel

So I knocked up quickly this VBA Function in Excel which uses Google API distance matrix function to calculate the Google Maps distance. See the VBA code here:

Get Google Maps distance in meters

'Calculate Google Maps distance between two addresses
Public Function GetDistance(start As String, dest As String)
    Dim firstVal As String, secondVal As String, lastVal As String
    firstVal = "http://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/distancematrix/json?origins="
    secondVal = "&destinations="
    lastVal = "&mode=car&language=pl&sensor=false"
    Set objHTTP = CreateObject("MSXML2.ServerXMLHTTP")
    URL = firstVal & Replace(start, " ", "+") & secondVal & Replace(dest, " ", "+") & lastVal
    objHTTP.Open "GET", URL, False
    objHTTP.setRequestHeader "User-Agent", "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0)"
    objHTTP.send ("")
    If InStr(objHTTP.responseText, """distance"" : {") = 0 Then GoTo ErrorHandl
    Set regex = CreateObject("VBScript.RegExp"): regex.Pattern = """value"".*?([0-9]+)": regex.Global = False
    Set matches = regex.Execute(objHTTP.responseText)
    tmpVal = Replace(matches(0).SubMatches(0), ".", Application.International(xlListSeparator))
    GetDistance = CDbl(tmpVal)
    Exit Function
ErrorHandl:
    GetDistance = -1
End Function

Get Google Maps duration (in seconds)

Public Function GetDuration(start As String, dest As String)
    Dim firstVal As String, secondVal As String, lastVal As String
    firstVal = "http://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/distancematrix/json?origins="
    secondVal = "&destinations="
    lastVal = "&mode=car&language=en&sensor=false"
    Set objHTTP = CreateObject("MSXML2.ServerXMLHTTP")
    URL = firstVal & Replace(start, " ", "+") & secondVal & Replace(dest, " ", "+") & lastVal
    objHTTP.Open "GET", URL, False
    objHTTP.setRequestHeader "User-Agent", "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0)"
    objHTTP.send ("")
    If InStr(objHTTP.responseText, """duration"" : {") = 0 Then GoTo ErrorHandl
    Set regex = CreateObject("VBScript.RegExp"): regex.Pattern = "duration(?:.|\n)*?""value"".*?([0-9]+)": regex.Global = False
    Set matches = regex.Execute(objHTTP.responseText)
    tmpVal = Replace(matches(0).SubMatches(0), ".", Application.International(xlListSeparator))
    GetDuration = CDbl(tmpVal)
    Exit Function
ErrorHandl:
    GetDuration = -1
End Function

Calculate distance between two coordinates

You can calculate the distance between two coordinates (2 pairs of latitudes and longitudes) using either Google’s API or a simple VBA Function.

Calculate distance between coordinates using a VBA function

Taking into account the elliptic nature of Mother Earth you can easily calculate the distance between coordinates without using Google API .

Warning – no the world is not flat as opposed to what the Flat Earch Society is stating

The function returns the distance and using the unit variable you can state if you want the function to return the distance in Kilometres ("K"), Miles ("M") or even nautical miles ("N").

Public Function GetDistanceCoord(ByVal lat1 As Double, ByVal lon1 As Double, ByVal lat2 As Double, ByVal lon2 As Double, ByVal unit As String) As Double
    Dim theta As Double: theta = lon1 - lon2
    Dim dist As Double: dist = Math.Sin(deg2rad(lat1)) * Math.Sin(deg2rad(lat2)) + Math.Cos(deg2rad(lat1)) * Math.Cos(deg2rad(lat2)) * Math.Cos(deg2rad(theta))
    dist = WorksheetFunction.Acos(dist)
    dist = rad2deg(dist)
    dist = dist * 60 * 1.1515
    If unit = "K" Then
        dist = dist * 1.609344
    ElseIf unit = "N" Then
        dist = dist * 0.8684
    End If
    GetDistanceCoord= dist
End Function

Function deg2rad(ByVal deg As Double) As Double
    deg2rad = (deg * WorksheetFunction.Pi / 180#)
End Function

Function rad2deg(ByVal rad As Double) As Double
    rad2deg = rad / WorksheetFunction.Pi * 180#
End Function

Calculate distance between coordinates using Google Maps in Excel

To get Google Maps distance between two coordinates simply use the same GetDistance function as above and replace the start and dest parameters with the coordinates in this format:

41.43216,-81.49992

Final call example:

Debug.Print GetDistance("41.43206,-81.38992", "41.43216,-81.49992")

Same goes for the duration function:

Debug.Print GetDuration("41.43206,-81.38992", "41.43216,-81.49992")

How to set it up in Excel?

Important: Please remember that you need a direct Internet connection! Not via proxy etc.
Follow the steps:

Add new VBA Module

Go to the DEVELOPER ribbon and add select Visual Basic a and new Module to your VBA Project
insert calculate distance macro

Insert the VBA code

Insert the code from sections above (notice that the function is “Public” – therefore will be visible in your workbook as a so called UDF (User Defined Function) add calculate distance macro

Input the function in Excel

Go to the worksheet and input the function as shown below:

=GetDistance("Chicago"; "New York")

Make sure to replace ; with your default formula list separator (e.g. comma in the US)!
Calculate distance between addresses or coordinates

Calculate distance using Google Maps between any number of coordinates/addresses in Excel

Now that we know how to leverage our newly learned GetDistance and GetDuration functions we can use them to measure the distance/duration for any routes, with any coordinates/addresses in between our starting point and our destination. For this I created 2 simple procedures MultiGetDistance and MultiGetDuration:

Get distance between any number of locations

By using our GetDistance function we can get the distance between any number of locations using the Visual Basic procedure below:

Public Function MultiGetDistance(ParamArray args() As Variant) As Double
    MultiGetDistance = 0
    Dim startLoc As String, endLoc As String, i As Long
    For i = LBound(args) To UBound(args) - 1
        startLoc = args(i): endLoc = args(i + 1)
        MultiGetDistance = MultiGetDistance + GetDistance(startLoc, endLoc)
    Next i
End Function

Below example usage:

=MultiGetDistance("Chicago";"New York";"San Jose")

And here is the output:

Calculate distance using Google Mapsbetween multiple addresses
Get Google Maps distance between multiple addresses

Get duration between any number of locations

Similarly by using our GetDuration function we can get the duration between any number of locations using the Visual Basic procedure below:

Public Function MultiGetDuration(ParamArray args() As Variant) As Double
    MultiGetDuration = 0
    Dim startLoc As String, endLoc As String, i As Long
    For i = LBound(args) To UBound(args) - 1
        startLoc = args(i): endLoc = args(i + 1)
        MultiGetDuration = MultiGetDuration + GetDuration(startLoc, endLoc)
    Next i
End Function

Below example usage:

=MultiGetDuration("Chicago";"New York";"San Jose")

Parameters for calculating the Google Maps Distance

The following parameters are available in the API query:

Param Description
key Your application’s API key. This key identifies your application for purposes of quota management. Learn how to get a key from the Google Developers Console.
mode (defaults to driving) — Specifies the mode of transport to use when calculating distance. Valid values and other request details are specified in the Travel Modes section of this document. Other modes:

  • driving (default) for road network.
  • walking for pedestrian paths & sidewalks (where available).
  • bicycling for bicycling via bicycle paths & preferred streets (where available).
  • transit for public transit routes (where available).
language The language in which to return results. See list here
avoid Restrictions to the route. Available:

  • avoid=tolls
  • avoid=highways
  • avoid=ferries
units Unit system to use when expressing distance as text. Available:

  • units=metric (fordistances in kilometers and meters)
  • units=imperial

For other parameters see the original Google Distance Matrix API page:
The Google Distance Matrix API

Limits and common issues

Read more on the limitations of the Google Distance Matrix API here:
The Google Distance Matrix API

Google limits the amount of free queries to the following:

  • 100 elements per query.
  • 100 elements per 10 seconds.
  • 2 500 elements per 24 hour period.
There is a way around these limitation via the use of HTTP Proxies. Read more here.

So beware of any mass recalculation of these functions as you may quickly find yourself exceeding these limits.

Is the function returning -1 or simply not working properly? Be sure you have a direct Internet connection! The XMLHttpRequest Object above is not configured to handle proxy servers common for Office environments.

Common issues

The functions above are not full proof and don’t take into account:

  • That Google won’t find the exact addresses and will approximate with a similar address (see component filtering for more precision)
  • That Google might return several matches. While the function takes the first one from the returned list
  • HTTP or timeouts. See my Web Scraping Kit for how I dealt with such
  • That distances/duration differ depending on which location is set as origin and which is set as destination (one way roads, detours etc.)

Having trouble with matching a large dataset with distances and durations? Reach out for a free quote.

Download an example

You can download an example of the above here:

Help!

Need help with calculating the distance between two addresses using the approach above? Feel free to comment below or ask a new Question via Questions page.

Next steps

Want to get the geolocation (coordinates) of any address?
Excel: Get geolocation (coordinates) of any address
Want to add maps and other cool Google Charts in Excel?
Excel: Google Charts Tool
Want to use Google translate in Excel?
Excel: Google Translate functionality