MapQuest Developer Blog

  • Announcing the Data Manager API Web Service

    Did you know that you can store your data in a MapQuest-hosted database and use the Search API Web Service to query your data table? If so, you are probably familiar with the legacy Data Manager tool that is available through the MapQuest Developer Network. Today I'm pleased to officially announce the next major release of Data Manager, which is also known as Data Manager v2. Like any major upgrade, there are more than a few new features included in Data Manager v2 that we can't wait to tell you about:
    • It’s “Spatially Aware.” You are no longer limited to storing only latitude and longitude information as text; points, lines, and polygons can be stored as geographies in data tables and can be accessed through the current version of the Search API Web Service.
    • It’s a web service. Data Manager v2 functionality is exposed as a web service, which means you can manipulate data in your data table without having to upload data or make changes through the Developer Network. Data Manager v2 calls can be integrated directly into your application, so you can update data in your table(s) on the fly.
    • Permissions. If you want to share your data table with other MapQuest developers, you are free to do so by setting your table as “public.” If you want to share your data table with specific MapQuest developers, you can assign custom permissions based on the ClientID of the other user. You can also control permissions by the column. Don’t worry, the default table permissions settings are ‘private.’
    • Shapefile uploads. If you are familiar with desktop GIS software, you have probably encountered Shapefiles. Data Manager supports the upload of zipped shapefiles, so it’s easy to get your existing GIS data into a Data Manager table.
    • Fewer rules regarding table sizes. The previous version of Data Manager had limitations placed on the number of rows and columns that could be added to a table and limitations could vary based on the product used with Data Manager. Those limitations have been simplified; instead, there two limitations placed on a Data Manager v2 table: table size and number of tables. We return the table size along with responses from select calls so that you can more easily gauge how much space is available in each of your tables. [2 tables, 10MB each for Community Edition developers and 10 tables, 100MB each for Enterprise Edition developers]
    • Tables are immediately available in production. We’ve also streamlined this process by eliminating the staging environment found in the previous version of Data Manager. Many of our users chose to immediately push data tables to production with the previous version of Data Manager, so we’ve eliminated that step. Anyone who would like to have a staging table in Data Manager v2 can create two tables; one for staging and one for production, and then use the copy-table call to copy the contents of the staging table to production.
    • Edit the names of tables and columns. This functionality is new to Data Manager v2, as the previous version did not offer support for changing the names of columns and tables.
    Developers who are familiar with the legacy Data Manager tool* probably noticed that this tool was not updated to work with Data Manager v2. While a direct replacement for this tool is not yet available, we've put together a sample application that performs many of the same functions available in the legacy tool for tables hosted in Data Manager v2. We've also put together a migration guide to help you move your data from the previous version of Data Manager to Data Manager v2. One other detail that is important to mention: the Search API Web Service was also updated in order to support new functionality included with Data Manager v2. Applications that are using the (deprecated) Search API v1 will need to be updated to call the Search API v2. Tables stored in Data Manager v2 can be used as a data source for the Search API v2, while tables stored in the legacy Data Manager can be used as a data source for the Search API v1. Data Manager v2 tables are not accessible through the Search API v1 and vice versa. Ready to get started? You'll want to take a look at: As always, feel free to let us know what you think, either by visiting the Data Manager API Web Service forum on the Developer Network or tweeting us @MapQuestTech! *The legacy Data Manager tool and Search API v1 are deprecated and will be unavailable after January 31, 2014.
  • Terrain Added to MapQuest-OSM Tiles + Other Updates

    [caption id="attachment_2214" align="alignright" width="250"] Dual road shields, improved city labeling and coastline trimming[/caption] If you are using MapQuest-OSM tiles in your application — either by accessing the map tiles directly or using the Open JavaScript Maps API, Open Flash Maps API, or Open Static Maps API – you probably noticed quite a few improvements to the look and feel of the tiles over the past few days. The most noticeable improvement is the addition of terrain, but there are quite a few other style-related improvements that we’re excited to announce as well: • Support for dual road shields • Improved road shield spacing • Improved road shield density per zoom level • Improved city styles • Improved tunnel styles • Improved coastline trimming Did you know that MapQuest started offering tiles based on OpenStreetMap data back in 2010? Since then, we’ve expanded our Open data offerings to include a number of APIs – all of which are free to anyone who would like to use them. Unlike our licensed data offerings, MapQuest-OSM tiles are available for direct access and can be consumed by other mapping toolkits, such as Leaflet and OpenLayers. Have questions or need help getting started with using MapQuest-OSM tiles? Feel free to check out the Open Initiatives – Tiles forum on the MapQuest Developer Network or tweet us. We love to hear from developers who are using our tiles and APIs! [caption id="attachment_2314" align="alignnone" width="618"] Terrain and improved tunnel styling[/caption]
  • Android Maps API 1.0.4 Released

    I’m sure you have heard the buzz about iOS 6, Apple Maps, and alternatives to Apple Maps; in fact, at this point, I would be surprised if you haven’t! While this topic was dominating the headlines, the MapQuest mobile development team was busy putting the finishing touches on the next release of the Android Maps API. Version 1.0.4 is available for download today and includes the following bug fixes and enhancements: Bug Fixes:
    • Fixed an issue related to map tiles not showing up in certain situations
    • Fixed a bug in default route narrative rendering
    • Fixed alignment issues and a bug when setting focus on an item in an ItemizedOverlay
    Enhancements:
    • Added the option to turn off auto-starting of guidance and the ability to use custom messaging instead of the default prompt in MapQuestAppLauncher
    • Added the ability to customize the background loading tile
    • Added the ability for a MyLocation overlay to use a plain Drawable instead of a BitmapDrawable to more easily customize the marker
    • Made drawing more efficient for larger sets of points in a LineOverlay
    • Changed the pointer height and width calculations to allow for customization in an AnnotationView
    • Removed enforcement of subclassing of MapActivity when using maps
    The Android Maps API is designed to be a drop-in replacement for the existing mapping framework included with the Android operating system and includes many of the features MapQuest is known for, such as integrated maps and driving directions, geocoding, and the ability to switch between licensed and open data. We always like to hear about the great apps that you’ve built with our APIs, so if you've built something using the Android Maps API and want us to feature it, let us know by tweeting us @MapQuestTech!
  • MapQuest Attends GIS in the Rockies

    [caption id="attachment_2081" align="alignright" width="320"]GIS in the Rockies Exhibit Hall Floor The exhibit floor at the GIS in the Rockies conference. Photo courtesy of Annette Ginocchetti.[/caption] Last week I had the pleasure of speaking about the MapQuest Directions API as a part of the Emerging Technologies track at the GIS in the Rockies conference. The conference, which was held at The Cable Center here in Denver, Colorado, is a large regional conference that focuses on many topics relevant to geospatial technologies, including geospatial web development, analysis, surveying, photogrammetry, and remote sensing. My session, An in-depth look at the MapQuest Directions API, touched upon many of the features included in the Directions API that go beyond simple point-to-point routes and driving directions, such as: • Multipoint routingOptimized routingRoute control pointsRoute matrixCorridor searching (with the MapQuest Search API) We took a look at sample code, requests, responses, and talked about how to get started, since all of this great functionality is available to both Community Edition and Enterprise Edition developers today (yes, today!). The conference was well done and certainly did not disappoint; in fact, it was inspiring to see the work being done by others in the industry and many of the sessions were informative and fun. I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference. Only 360 more days to go! If you need help with getting started or have questions about the Directions API, feel free to check out the forums on the Developer Network or tweet @MapQuestTech!
  • New Geocoding Service and Updated APIs Based on Open Data

    Despite the many mapping industry changes, where tech giants are switching providers on what seems like a daily basis, OpenStreetMap has been the clear leader in meaningful solutions. Their lack of legal and technical restrictions, not to mention the remarkable level of contributors and data contributed, make them a popular alternative to other commercially available datasets. MapQuest first began offering products and services based on data from OpenStreetMap back in July 2010, and today we're extremely proud to be announcing a slew of updates to our Open APIs - all of which are still available for free and without any limit on transactions!

    Open JavaScript Maps API v7.0

    [caption id="attachment_2019" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Multipoint routing using the Open JavaScript API v7.0"][/caption]This highly anticipated update includes several major improvements to the API: Open Aerial Tiles For those of you looking to add aerial imagery to your application, you'll be happy to learn the MapQuest Open Aerial Tiles have been fully integrated into the API. The tiles are composed only of imagery in the public domain (or released under similar licenses) and can be used for any purpose without any restrictions. Geolocation Control As the name indicates, this new control can be used to detect the user's location and automatically re-center the map. A custom handler can also be added to perform a task, such as getting directions to the nearest ice cream shop after the user has been geolocated. Increased Mobile Support A major focus for the v7.0 release was to significantly improve performance and functionality on mobile devices. Key bug fixes were made in order to better handle touch events and increase support for pop-up InfoWindows and other popular features. Many, many more upgrades are still to come, but we think you'll love all the enhancements we've already made! We strongly encourage you to switch to the new Open JavaScript API v7.0 and check out the much improved Developer's Guide.

    Open Geocoding API

    One obstacle with using OpenStreetMap has always been geocoding, but the new Open Geocoding API (our first stab at releasing a first-rate open geocoder) allows users to geocode, reverse geocode and batch geocode addresses. Powered by Nominatim, the Open Geocoding API makes it possible for users to specify which country to search, which city to search, and use other advanced specifications to further refine their request. Basic Geocode Request: http://open.mapquestapi.com/geocoding/v1/address?key=YOUR-KEY-HERE&location=Lancaster,PA Advanced Geocode Request: http://open.mapquestapi.com/geocoding/v1/address?key=YOUR-KEY-HERE&json={location:{city:"Portland",state:"OR"}} To learn more about the API, including information about returning the geocode quality and static map thumbnails in the response, be sure to read the Open Geocoding Developer's Guide. If you also have suggestions on how we can improve the service, please let us know!

    Open Directions API, Open Guidance API & Open Static Map API

    Continuing with the geocoding theme, both the Open Directions API and Open Guidance API now support addresses as their input. Example: http://open.mapquestapi.com/directions/v1/route?key=YOUR-KEY-HERE&from=Lancaster,PA&to=York,PA&ambiguities=ignore The Open Static Map API has also been updated to support address locations when making a getplacemap request. Example: http://open.mapquestapi.com/staticmap/v4/getplacemap?key=YOUR-KEY-HERE&location=1090 N Charlotte St, Lancaster, PA&size=500,300&type=map&zoom=17&showicon=red_1 (Note to current Open Static Map users: please switch to v4 as v3 has been deprecated). All the above geocoding capabilities, as well as the Open JavaScript API v7.0 we announced today, help add an incredible new level of depth to our APIs. It's a truly significant step towards advancing the MapQuest Open APIs into becoming not only the most unique and disruptive mapping API available, but also a legitimate competitor against other paid solutions. We owe many thanks to the OpenStreetMap community for contributing their time and efforts to the project, and we hope you share with us all the creative ways in which you use our APIs! Have questions or comments? Please post them on our forums or on Twitter @MapQuestTech and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. Thank you and enjoy!
  • iOS Maps API 1.0.1 Released

    If you have been following the activity on the MapQuest iOS Maps API Forum, you have probably seen references made to version 1.0.1 of the iOS Maps API. Yes, it's true; the iOS Maps API is officially out of beta and today we are happy to announce our first production release! The iOS Maps API 1.0.1 allows iOS developers to leverage the power of the MapQuest platform from within native iOS applications. Much like the beta release, iOS developers have access to unlimited free MapQuest maps as well as accurate geocoding, advanced routing options, driving directions, shape and image overlay support, geolocation, and access to both the licensed and open MapQuest datasets! The MapQuest iOS Maps API essentially takes the default iOS mapping tools a step – or a few steps – farther, by offering features currently unavailable to iOS developers, such as integrated driving directions and the ability to choose between licensed MapQuest and MapQuest-OSM data and map tiles. Getting started is a breeze; the iOS Maps API uses the same object model as the default iOS mapping tools, so it is an easy, drop-in replacement. Simply download the API toolkit and samples, add the MQMapKit framework to your project, and ensure that the import statements are referencing the MQMapKit framework. That's it! Code samples are included with the download and the Developer Network Forums are always a great resource for answering questions and meeting other developers who use MapQuest APIs. The iOS Maps API 1.0.1 release also incorporates enhancements and bug fixes that have been made as a result of feedback provided by developers on the Developer Network Forums, Twitter, meetups that we have attended, and MapQuest Enterprise Solutions developers who have already started to build applications based on the beta releases. This release improves overlay rendering and memory and tile usage and fixes iOS 5 MapKit incompatibilities that were reported during the beta. A full changelog is included with the release notes, so be sure to take a look. Not an iOS developer? We've still got you covered. MapQuest offers many options for mobile developers:
    • Android Maps API - The Android Maps API is available to Android developers who wish to incorporate the MapQuest platform into native Android applications.
    • Mobile Flash Maps API - The Mobile Flash Maps API is available to Flex developers who create native Android and iOS applications by utilizing the 'build once, deploy everywhere' functionality included in the Flex SDK.
    • JavaScript Maps API - The JavaScript Maps API supports touch gestures and can be used to create feature rich browser-based mobile Web applications.
    • MapQuest Web Services - The MapQuest Web Services can be accessed directly by any client capable of making HTTP requests, so if the previous options are not a good fit for your project, the Web Services are yet another option available to mobile developers.
    We love to hear from our developers! Tell us about the great applications you have built with the MapQuest mobile APIs, either by posting on the Developer Network Forums, or tweeting us!
  • Unlimited Free Maps with MapQuest API Community Edition

    Who doesn’t love free? Yes F-R-E-E. MapQuest is known for its accurate geocoding and flexible routing APIs but did you know that developers and businesses can get unlimited free MapQuest maps? With MapQuest Community Edition you can build both online and mobile apps and get access to highly accurate maps for free (there’s that F word again) with no usage limits for maps (check out our licensing chart for details). The combo of free maps built on commercial data and no usage limits for maps makes us different. Different in a good way, we think. Check out our Developer Network today to sign up for a Community Edition license, get access to technical information, blog posts, forums and more. We also offer our MapQuest Enterprise Edition for businesses that are looking for technical support, a service level agreement, geocoding only licenses and a whole bunch of other benefits. Call us (888-627-7837) or fill out our online form and one of our mapping gurus will reach out to discuss what might work best for you and your business. If you’re not sure whether Community or Enterprise is the best option for you, you can check out our Ts&Cs or just reach out to us and we can help you work thru that too. p.s. Seriously, if you don’t love free, tweet hashtag #MapQuestTech – we’ll send the first 50 of you a free t-shirt to convince you.
  • MapQuest Attends the AT&T Mobile App Hackathon

    Mobile App Hackathon This past Friday, I attended an AT&T Mobile App Hackathon and had the pleasure of speaking about the MapQuest APIs in front of some of southern Florida's top developers, entrepreneurs and other technology enthusiasts. They were a friendly, fantastic group who spent the evening (and well past midnight) forming into teams, collecting their thoughts, and devising a plan for the all-day hackathon event the following day. As with many applications built today, geolocation plays a large role in creating context and relevance, and is considered an expected feature among top apps. With the hack's geolocation theme, teams spent all day Saturday coding and designing with this in mind. The unanimous winner, Volvo Ocean Race - Ultimate Fan, was a beautiful, well polished app with MapQuest APIs and geolocation built in to engage race fans around the world during the nine-month competition.

    Volvo Ocean Race - Ultimate Fan App

    Developed using HTML5 by David Ponevac and Marek Drugac, the app allows fans to submit questions to their favorite teams (e.g. "Can you shoot a video of what it's like having to cook breakfast while on board?"), view geotagged photos taken by other fans, check the distance of the closest yacht as they approach shore, and more. Ultimate Fan App David and Marek were able to utilize the MapQuest Open JavaScript API to geolocate the user, display their location and plot geotagged photos of the race onto an interactive map - all of which were completed in the last hour of the hackathon. [caption id="attachment_1941" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="David Ponevac (left) and Marek Drugac (right)"]David Ponevac and Marek Drugac[/caption] When asked if they were nervous about implementing MapQuest in such a short time, Marek Drugac replied, "No. The documentation is written quite well, so we did not worry at all." They also mentioned the benefits of MapQuest's terms over other geolocation APIs, which you can read more about in the Terms Overview. "With Google we actually hit the point where they want to charge us. We'd love to pay but the service is not generating enough cash to cover such expense. So we are looking for something that can take us a bit further without spending too much money," added Marek. And for those waiting for the Volvo Ocean Race - Ultimate Fan app, David and Marek are currently working with Volvo to make slight modifications before releasing the app hopefully before the end of this year's race.

    Mobile App Hackathon Recap

    As this was my first hackathon, I was pleased to see how successful the event was and how genuinely curious developers were to see what MapQuest had to offer. The Static Map Service proved to be popular as mobile developers wanted a lightweight option for simply displaying a map on their device. And, if you missed it, MapQuest also has a native Apple iOS API and Android API, as well as mobile support using the JavaScript and Flash APIs. Thanks again to AT&T for hosting the event and the NON-STOP FOOD! Can't wait for our next hack!
  • Updated Flash Samples Explorer and DGLux MapQuest Component

    Flash Samples Explorer Thumbnail Developers who are using the MapQuest Flash Maps API may have noticed recent changes to the MapQuest Flash Samples Explorer application. The Samples Explorer application is intended to highlight the functionality of the Flash Maps API by providing interactive samples and easily-downloadable source code. Quite a few of the existing samples have been revised to incorporate additional functionality and two new samples have been added: search map and alternate routes. Search Map is a sample that dynamically displays results from the MapQuest Search Web Service based on the extent of the map. Query results are updated and displayed every time a zoomend or dragend event is detected, so, every time the map is zoomed or panned, the results are updated based on the extent of the map. Also, a slider component allows a maximum number of search results to be defined, so the results will be limited to a number that is set by the user. The Alternate Routes sample queries the MapQuest Directions Web Service and displays route alternatives that are returned when a route is requested. Alternate routes are displayed in a clickable list and the time, distance, route map, and narrative will update based on the selected route, which allows for easy comparison of route details. The maximum number of route alternatives that are returned by the Directions Web Service can be defined as well, so the results will be limited to a number that is set by the user. Finally, DGLogik has announced a MapQuest component for their innovative Adobe Flex and AIR-based DGLux visualization platform. DGLux allows users to create data-driven applications and dashboards without writing a single line of code! The DGLux MapQuest component is powered by the MapQuest Flash Maps API. Check out the video tutorial below:
  • Updated MapQuest OSM Tiles and More OpenStreetMap Switchovers

    Is 2012 the year of Open mapping? We've been ecstatic to see the energy around OpenStreetMap, and have noticed several applications recently convert to using MapQuest-OSM tiles and other companies like foursquare embrace OpenStreetMap as a foundation of their business. We're going to dive into two of applications that chose MapQuest Open and examine the process they undertook to reach that decision. First, we'd like to talk about changes we've made to our MapQuest-OSM Tiles in order to deliver better, faster and more reliable maps. MapQuest-OSM Tile Changes This week we launched a major upgrade to our tiling infrastructure, with two major benefits. The first is noticeable, while the second hopefully is never noticed. We updated the styles of our Open tiles to match some of the improvements we've made on our licensed tileset. Click on the image below to see the details of our extreme makeover. MapQuest Open Tiles Old vs New The second change is that we upgraded the tiling platform for better performance and reliability. Hopefully it's like a great offensive line in football - you never notice it because it just works. We have more updates in our Open infrastructure on the way. Stay tuned. MapQuest Open Tiles + Leaflet [caption id="attachment_1841" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Nestoria"]screenshot from Nestoria.com[/caption] Next we wanted to highlight some applications that recently switched to MapQuest OpenStreetMap Tiles and why they did it. Both of them paired our tiles with Leaflet, an open source JavaScript mapping library that we're big fans of. Nestoria is a property search engine that operates in five European markets, India, Brazil, and Australia, and has successfully implemented MapQuest-OSM Tiles and Leaflet. There are many reasons why Nestoria chose to use MapQuest-OSM Tiles with Leaflet, but one reason specifically mentioned is the availability of tools and support from the community, which includes MapQuest's active support for OSM. [caption id="attachment_1842" align="alignright" width="350" caption="World Airport Codes"][/caption] Fubra, the operator of the World Airport Codes website, shared details of their switch from the Google Maps API to a solution that involves MapQuest-OSM Tiles and Leaflet as well. After evaluating a number of solutions, they ultimately decided that the combination of MapQuest-OSM and Leaflet offered the best solution for their needs. If you have questions about MapQuest Open data initiatives or want to learn more, feel free to check out the documentation and open data forums on the MapQuest Developer Network. Also, if you have an app that is using MapQuest-OSM tiles and want it to be featured on this blog, let us know!