Jan 26, 2011

Open Guidance/JavaScript SDK/Aerial Tiles!? Yes, Please!

Do you remember when the announcements of the MapQuest-OpenStreetMap (OSM) tiles and style files were a big deal? Or when you all grew ecstatic when we added routing to your OSM contributions?? Well, we’re not stopping yet! We’re here to confirm once again that MapQuest is taking OpenStreetMap very seriously.

Announced today at Navigation Strategies USA by Randy Meech, head of engineering for local & mapping at AOL, we’re officially launching: 1) The Open Guidance Service that allows you to create your own real-time, turn-by-turn navigation application based entirely on OpenStreetMap!! 2) The Open JavaScript SDK using strictly the MapQuest Open Services! And, 3) Open Aerial Tiles!

Open Guidance Service

A real-time, turn-by-turn navigation app!? How can this be done? Guidance, as seen in the Developer’s Guide, is the beefier, bulkier brother of the Open Directions Service and contains additional raw data associated with the route. One of the key differences is that it can also return speed and intersection costs per road segment that allow real-time guidance for navigation applications to more accurately estimate the time until the next maneuver.

For example, take a simple route like the following:

http://open.mapquestapi.com/guidance/v0/route?from=37.401672,-121.911233&to=37.339409,-121.893904&narrativeType=text

Response snippet:

"GuidanceNodeCollection":[
...
{"infoCollection":["Turn left on McCarthy Boulevard",
"Turn LEFT onto McCarthy Boulevard."],
"turnCost":12,
"maneuverType":4,
"linkIds":[4]},
...
]

Referring back to the documentation, you’ll note that maneuverType displays which type of maneuver action should be taken (4=turn left), turnCost displays the number of seconds it takes to transition between successive links along the route, and infoCollection provides both a text-to-speech narrative and a display-ready narrative.

Keep in mind the above GuidanceNodeCollection is just a small portion of the response returned. The service can also return GuidanceLinkCollection, GuidanceExitCollection, GuidanceRoadInfoCollection, and loads of other details that help provide the means necessary to develop a navigation application.

Open JavaScript SDK

OpenStreetMap has already changed the face of mapping, and it continued its march on today as a potential main data source for a real-time navigation application. Because OSM is to be taken seriously, we are proud to release our very first Open SDK!

This toolkit grabs the Open tiles created from OpenStreetMap and allows developers to add interactivity to their maps, generate Points of Interests, produce advanced routing between two or more points, do a Nominatim search, plus numerous other features found on http://open.mapquestapi.com/sdk/js/v6.1.0/.

To get started with your own mapping application, simply follow the Basic Map documentation, then spruce it up by adding Controls and POIs/InfoWindows. Like all of MapQuest’s other Open Initiatives, an AppKey is not necessary and you’ll be able to dive directly into the SDK.

Identical to the Open Directions Service, the routing options for the toolkit include crowd-pleasers such as multipoint routing, ability to avoid specific road types, and my personal favorite, bike routes! Full documentation is available here.

Sample bike route using the new Open JavaScript SDK.

Open Aerial Tiles

As if the above announcements aren’t enough, we’re also releasing a new open tileset combining the best of the freely available satellite imagery and aerial photography! The data thus far has mostly been collected from places such as the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the National Agriculture Imagery Program.

Flatiron Building in NYC on Open Aerial Tiles.

It currently offers global imagery at a 30-meter resolution and up to 1-meter for the United States. The service itself is still very much in its early stages as we continue to augment the initial dataset with more and improved data.

However, if you’d like to begin using the Open Aerial Tiles now or in the early stages, the process is very similar to using OpenStreetMap tiles. The only change needed would be the tile URLs.

OpenStreetMap Tile URL: http://a.tile.openstreetmap.org/8/126/87.png
MapQuest-OSM Tile URL: http://otile1.mqcdn.com/tiles/1.0.0/osm/8/126/87.png
MapQuest-Open Aerial Tiles URL: http://oatile1.mqcdn.com/naip/8/126/87.png

Whew! Amazingly, that’s all we have for now and there are no more new announcements for the day. We hope you take advantage of some of the aforementioned Open Services and share with us what you’ve been developing. Questions and feedback are always welcomed on the Open Forums as well as on Twitter @MapQuestTech.

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