A civilized nation can have no enemies, and one cannot draw a line across a map, a line that doesn't even exist in nature and say that the ugly enemy lives on the one side, and good friends live on the other. - Thor Heyerdahl

The MapQuest Platform has become the preferred way for developers to integrate rich cartography into their applications. Using the MapQuest Platform, developers can provide street and satellite views. In addition points of interest, navigation, geocoding (converting an address to map coordinates), and routing are all supported. In this series of blogs - I will show developers how to build a Mac OS X Dashboard widget that will eventually provide mapping, point-to-point directions, and integration with the built-in Address book application - all powered by the MapQuest Platform.

Development Platforms

The MapQuest Platform APIs are accessible from a wide variety of development platforms and protocols. From the server side this includes: Java, .NET, and C++. From the client side this includes: AS3 (Adobe ActionScript 3), FUJAX, and JavaScript.

Signing Up

The MapQuest Developer Network is the place to get started. The site provides an overview of the APIs features, in addition to links providing an online demo, product brochures and more. Before a developer can begin using the APIs in their applications they need to sign up for a Free Edition or Developer license. As shown in Figure 1, you can start that process at - http://developer.mapquest.com/Home/WhyJoin - click on the Register button in the upper right.

Figure 1

You'll need to provide basic personal information, and accept the terms and conditions.

Shortly after you submit your information, you'll receive an email, you'll need to click on the link in the email to confirm your request. Once confirmed, you'll receive a second email in about 20 minutes. This email will contain the URL to the MapQuest Technical Resource Center, your username (which is the email address you used to sign up) and a temporary password, which you will change after your first login. Also included in the message is the authentication information you'll need to access the MapQuest Platform from your application. I'll be using this information later in this series of blogs.

After you login to the Technical Resource Center and change your password, as shown in Figure 2, you'll have complete access to the documentation, SDK downloads, examples, and your account information. Click on the My Account link to view the information shown in Figure 3.

Figure 2

Figure 3

In addition to your support form user id, you will be able to configure the referrers for your account. The referrer information basically provides information about the domains where you will be accessing the MapQuest Platform. Note at the bottom that there is an option to permit blank referrers. Read the warning note closely if you enable this option. I will discuss the specific referrer issues that occur with a Mac OS X Dashboard widget in the next post in these series.

Conclusion

You now know how to get started with the MapQuest APIs. Here are some resources for you to review before I begin to build the Dashboard widget. Dig in!