MapQuest Developer Blog

  • Using Map Overlays with Flex and the Mapquest 5.2 APIs

    Ok, I was driving (very carefully, mind you) on a very sunny afternoon to the airport, and I got a call from my very bright and brilliant niece who recently enrolled into Michigan State University (MSU if you're a Michigan native). During the midpoint of the conversation, all I heard was "cell phone silence", for lack of a better term, and within a few more seconds the call was dropped -- argh!

    Obviously, I'm not the only person in the world who gets aggravated when a mobile call gets dropped. Of course, my wireless carrier has to go unnamed here in order to protect the guilty... er, uh... innocent.

    So, after I called my niece to finish our conversation, I started to think. "Shouldn't there a way to show folks where the various dead spots are for the wireless carriers?" As you will see shortly, the MapQuest 5.2 APIs actually come in quite handy for solving this sort of problem. If you read my previous blog post and tried out the example code that I provided, then you should be familiar with the concept of creating a POI (point of interest) on a map and displaying it. Today, we're going to use overlays to highlight a region of interest. Take a look at the image below to see my "dead spot" awareness system:

    Now, the code snippet below is the all the code needed to add a circular overlay to a map. As you can see, I'm able to set the radius of the circle (currently set at '60' here in the code), fill color, border color, border width, and transparency value.

              var rect:RectLL = getShapePoints(deadspot_coords, 60);
    var circle:EllipseOverlay = new EllipseOverlay();

    So as you can see, adding a circular overlay is pretty easy with the Mapquest 5.2 APIs. As always, below is the full source code so you can copy/paste and get things going.

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
      <mx:Application xmlns:mx="" layout="absolute"
        xmlns:ns1="com.mapquest.tilemap.*" creationComplete="main();">
    <mx:Canvas x="36" y="10" width="635" height="353" backgroundColor="#ffffff">
    <ns1:TilemapComponent x="175" y="34" width="452"
      height="302" id="tilemap" key="mjtd%7Clu6y29u2n0%2C7s%3Do5-0ura9"/>
    <mx:Text x="19" y="77"
      text="Tired of dropped calls from you wireless provider?
      Check here for the latest on wireless dead zones."
      width="134" height="94"/>
    <mx:ComboBox id="mapTypeComboBox" x="19"
       y="34" width="148" dataProvider="{mapTypeComboData}"
    <mx:Label x="198" y="1" text="Wireless Dead Spot Locator"
      fontSize="16" width="266"/>
     import com.mapquest.tilemap.pois.*;
     import com.mapquest.PointLL;
     import com.mapquest.LatLngCollection;
     import com.mapquest.LatLng;
     import com.mapquest.tilemap.overlays.PolygonOverlay;
     import com.mapquest.tilemap.overlays.EllipseOverlay;
     import com.mapquest.RectLL;
     import com.mapquest.tilemap.controls.ZoomControl;
        public var mapTypeComboData: Array = [ {label:"Map View", data:"map"},
        {label:"Satellite View", data:"sat"},
        {label:"Hybrid View", data:"hyb"} ];
        public function main(): void{
        var zoomControl:ZoomControl = new ZoomControl();
        // now let's set the points of interest
        var deadspot_coords:PointLL = new PointLL(32.720409,-91.994637);
        var deadspot_Poi:Poi = new Poi(deadspot_coords);
        deadspot_Poi.setInfoTitle("deadspot reported on 2/5/2008");
        var rect:RectLL = getShapePoints(deadspot_coords, 60);
        var circle:EllipseOverlay = new EllipseOverlay();
        public function getShapePoints(pointLL: PointLL, radius: int): RectLL{
        var rLat:Number = radius / 69;
        var rLng:Number = radius / 53;
        return new RectLL(new PointLL(, pointLL.lng-rLng),
          new PointLL(, pointLL.lng+rLng));
        public function changeMapType(): void{
        tilemap.mapType = mapTypeComboData[mapTypeComboBox.selectedIndex].data;
  • Visit Us at Location Intelligence

    MapQuest will be out in Santa Clara, CA this week attending the Location Intelligence conference. We have a booth set-up and will be happy to demo and discuss the MapQuest Platform with you.

    Hope to see you there!

  • Create a Geo File

    In my previous MapQuest posts I've mostly been demonstrating how to use MapQuest to display the the various types of geo-formats (KML, GeoRSS, etc). Building on the examples of map event interaction from my previous posts, we can also build an interactive map interface where users can build their own geo-format files. Here's an example where users can interactively click on the map to create a polyline.

    <title>Create a Geo File</title>
    <script src="
    <script language="javascript">
    var myOverlayColl = new MQOverlayCollection();
    var myShapePts = new MQLatLngCollection();
    var myOL = new MQLineOverlay();
    var allclicks  = new Array(0);
    function showClick(event) {
        // log all clicks
        // add clicks to polyline overlay
        myShapePts.add (new MQLatLng(event.ll.getLatitude(),
        // clear previous markers and add new start and end points
        myMap.addPoi(new MQPoi(new MQLatLng(allclicks[0], allclicks[1])));
        if ( allclicks.length > 1 ) {
            myMap.addPoi(new MQPoi(new
    function display() {
        alert (allclicks);
    function initMap() {
       myMap = new MQTileMap(document.getElementById('mapDiv'),8,
        new MQLatLng(33.173676, -116.714889));
       myMap.addControl(new MQLargeZoomControl(myMap));
    <div id="mapDiv" style="width:384px; height:384px; border:2px solid"></div>
    <a href="#" onclick="display();">Display Coordinates</a>

    As you can see, I'm simply using an 'alert' to display the captured latitudes and longitudes of the polyline that the user created. Obviously the next task is to transform that array of coordinates into your favorite geo-format. Here is a screenshot of the result:

  • Share-A-Map AIM Plugin

    Developer David Bello has written a great plug-in for AIM called "Share-a-Map." That clever name may have something to do with why we're covering it here.

    Right from the copy in the AIM Gallery:

    Share-a-map is an AOL AIM plugin that let you share maps with a friend via AIM in an interactive way. This plugin can be extremely useful when you want to share a location, route or place with a friend or relative, plus other features like add images and hand drawing overlays, find an address or point, save your map, among others.

    We've been playing with it here in the office and it is a really sweet way to do some map collaboration.

    The Share-a-Map plug-in is Windows only and available in the AIM Plugin Gallery.

  • Adding Rollover Functionality to Overlays: Part 2

    This method, although similar to the method I covered in my last post, uses the InfoWindow of the map rather than a rollover associated with a Point Of Interest (POI). The InfoWindow is populated with the title and content when the overlay is moused-over, and follows the cursor, similar to a tooltip.

    The biggest disadvantage with this method comes from the need to step outside of the API to attach a mousemove event. This means that the solution needs to take browser differences into consideration. In order to simplify the code, and because I generally use ASP.NET for most of my work, you will notice that I have utilized a few shortcuts provided by the Microsoft AJAX Library.

    The most important things to understand here are the loc object and the ScrollTest function. Sys.UI.DomElement.getLocation() is a function provided by the Microsoft AJAX Library which returns an object with two properties, x and y. These coordinates represent the location of the element relative to the window. The ScrollTest function returns an object representing the amount that the window has been scrolled. Using these two values, along with coordinates returned by the mousemove event object, the coordinates of the mouse in relation to the map can be discovered. These coordinates are used to place the InfoWindow on the map.

    Listing 1 - The AddRollover function
     // This solution uses the Microsoft AJAX Library.
     // Get it here:
     // This function is necessary since different
     // browsers implement this in slightly different ways.
     function ScrollTest(){
         var elemental = document.documentElement;
         var lefty = (elemental.scrollLeft ?
                elemental.scrollLeft :
         var toppy = (elemental.scrollTop ?
                elemental.scrollTop :
         return { top : toppy, left : lefty }
     function AddRollover(roMap, roOverlay, roTitle, roContent){
         var mapDiv = $get('mapWindow');
         roOverlay.setAltColorAlpha(roOverlay.getAltColorAlpha() - 0.2);
         roOverlay.setAltFillColorAlpha(roOverlay.getAltFillColorAlpha() - 0.2);
         function MouseFollow(e) {
             var scrooll = ScrollTest();
             var loc = Sys.UI.DomElement.getLocation($get('mapWindow'));
             // $get() is a short form for getElementById()
             var point = new MQPoint(e.clientX + scrooll.left - loc.x,
                 e.clientY + - loc.y);
         MQEventManager.addListener(roOverlay, "mouseover", function(){
             // Each map only has one InfoWindow, so we need to set these values
             // every time the mouse is over an overlay
             // $addHandler is simply a cross-browser method for attaching an event handler, provided
             // by the Microsoft AJAX Library
             $addHandler(mapDiv, 'mousemove', MouseFollow);
         MQEventManager.addListener(roOverlay, "mouseout", function(){
             $removeHandler(mapDiv, 'mousemove', MouseFollow);
  • Map It! - Building a MapQuest Mac OS X Dashboard Widget - Part 5 - Enhancing Map It!

    It is not down in any map; true places never are. - Herman Melville

    In Part 1 I showed you how to get started with the MapQuest Platform by getting a developer key. In Part 2, I put that key to use by providing access to a basic map in the Map It! widget. Part 3 showed you how to incorporate basic geocoding. In Part 4 I discussed more advanced geocoding topics - including handling multiple matches and specifying geocode search options. In this installment I'll discuss adding some options to the widget. Specifically I'll discuss setting the default zoom level when adding an API, specifying point of interest icons, and the default map type.

    The Widget Options

    The back of the Map It! widget is shown in Figure 1. The user can set defaults for zooming, map view, and the point of interest icon. Each of these values are saved in the widget's preferences and loaded when the widget is launched.

    Figure 1

    Setting the Options At Startup

    The widget load function is called when the widget is first loaded. The preferences are created if they don't already exist.

    function load()
      // check the current prefrences version -
      // if not available or version changed recreate them
      if(loadPref("version") != "0.1") {
        // store the current version
         defZoom = parseInt(loadPref("zoom"));
      defView = loadPref("view");
      defIcon = loadPref("icon");
      // Create the Map...
      myMap = new MQTileMap(document.getElementById('myMap'));
      var myLZControl = new MQLargeZoomControl(myMap);
        new MQMapCornerPlacement(MQMapCorner.TOP_LEFT, new MQSize(1,1)));
      var myVControl = new MQViewControl(myMap);
        new MQMapCornerPlacement(MQMapCorner.TOP_RIGHT, new MQSize(20,20)));
      // set the default map view

    When an address is plotted, the code has been changed as reflected:

    //create a new icon object
    myIcon = new MQMapIcon();
    // set the icon image: icon file location, width, height,
    // recalc infowindow offset,
    // is it a PNG image?
    if(defIcon == "pin") {
    } else if(defIcon == "star") {
    } else if(defIcon == "x") {
    // create a point
    myPoint = new MQPoi(newCenter);
    // set the custom icon
    // recenter the map on the point, the second parameter
    // specifies the zoom level

    A new MQMapIcon object is created to to hold the custom icon. The setImage method is called to load the icon image, and the setIcon method of the MQTileMap object is called to associate the icon with the point of interest. Now when a search is run, the default custom icon is displayed as shown in Figure 2.

    Figure 2


    In Part 6 I'll discuss adding direction capabilities to the widget. For your reference, here are some references to the MapQuest APIs:

  • MapNews - A Map Based News Browser - Part 3 - AOL National News RSS Feed

    "In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." - Jan L. A. van de Snepscheut

    In theory, the project to place RSS news feeds on a map could be very easy. GeoRSS is standard for encoding geographic locations in RSS feeds. RSS feeds that have this encoding are the perfect data source for this project. But, in practice, the feeds I've been looking at do not have GeoRSS information. So, I'm going to start by seeing what I can get done without GeoRSS.

    The source of news that I'm working with is the AOL national news RSS feed. The description element of each feed starts with a location. I extracted the location, geocoded each location with the MapQuest (MQ) geocoding service, and then placed point of interest (POI) markers on the map.

    In my last post, I laid out my design for MapNews. In this post, I present the working application and code I've written based on the MQ client Javascript tool kit. The following screen shot of MapNews shows POI markers for cities that have news stories in an example feed. I've clicked on the POI marker for Salt Lake City to expose links to news stories in the information window.

    The HTML and Javascript for MapNews are shown below. I used prototype for an AJAX fetch of the RSS feed and also for parsing the RSS XML. On line 7, I included prototype 1.6 since the MQ Javascript library version seemed to be missing the AJAX component (also set ipr=false on line 6). I installed the PHP version of the MQ proxy on my server and pointed the MQExec object to the proxy on lines 13-26. I installed the MQ API Javascript files on my server and referenced them on lines 8-10 (excluding mqcommon.js which is included in line 6).

    Lines 34-43 define the Feed class that represents each feed item and associated geocoding results. I fired off an AJAX request to fetch the RSS file on lines 46-54 and handled the return in processRss (lines 57-71). Lines 60-63 pull the item description and link straight from the RSS feed (the prototype function cleanWhitespace (line 126) comes in handy here).

    The function parseForCityAndState (called on line 64) uses a regex to find a city, and perhaps, a state in the description RSS element. The regex on line 114 will make more sense if you consider the following examples of the AOL RSS feed:

            ST. LOUIS (AP) - Substandard care at a southern Illinois ...
            ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - It's the perfect tax: Government  ...

    I, basically, looked for text starting the description prior to the literal '(AP)', and if a comma was present, I inferred that the state was the text after the comma.

    With the city and state in hand, I call the MQ geocoding service (line 100-111). The geocoding service worked well; I had only 1 failed geocoding out of 35 items, many of which had only a city name. I picked the first element of the returned MQGeoAddress collection (line 109) and skipped items for which the geocoding failed (line 76).

    Finally, the geocoded items are converted to POI makers with associated descriptions and links (lines 88-97). I collected the items by location to have only one information window per location with multiple items (lines 77-84). This was accomplished by building a hash with keys of MQLatLng.toString() (which is a concatenation of longitude and latitude) and values of a list of Feed objects.

    I'm pretty happy with the application so far. There is one problem, however. I'm firing off many geocoding requests (one for each RSS item) from the client and the page load is too slow. I envision that the fix will be to use the batch geocoding method from the MQ API, or, to do the geocoding once per RSS feed on the server.

    The next steps for MapNews are to consume GeoRSS feeds and to adopt batch geocoding for feeds without GeoRSS encoding.

    001 <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
    002 <html>
    003  <head>
    004   <title>MapNews</title>
    005   <link rel="stylesheet" href="mapnews.css"
    006   <script src="
    007   <script src='prototype-'
    008   <script src='mqutils.js'
    009   <script src='mqobjects.js'
    010   <script src='mqexec.js'
    011   <script language='javascript'>
    013    var g_proxyServerName = '';
    014    var g_proxyServerPort = '';
    015    var g_proxyServerPath = '/mq/JSReqHandler.php5'
    017    var g_serverName = '';
    018    var g_serverPort = '80';
    019    var g_serverPath = 'mq';
    021    var g_geoExec = new MQExec(
    022     g_serverName, g_serverPath, g_serverPort,
    023     g_proxyServerName, g_proxyServerPath, g_proxyServerPort
    024    );
    026    var g_mqMap;
    028    function startMap() {
    029     g_mqMap = new MQTileMap(document.getElementById('mapWindow'), 2,
    030       new MQLatLng(39.81,-98.56), "map");
    031     getRss();
    032    }
    034    function Feed(){}
    035    Feed.prototype = {
    036     title: '',
    037     link: '',
    038     description: '',
    039     city: '',
    040     state: '',
    041     country: 'USA',
    042     geoAddress: null
    043    };
    046    function getRss() {
    047     new Ajax.Request('news_top_nat.xml', {
    048      method:'get',
    049      onSuccess: function(transport){
    050      processRss(transport.responseXML);
    051     },
    052     onFailure: function(){ alert('Something went wrong...') }
    053     });
    054    }
    057    function processRss(root) {
    058     var feeds = new Array();
    059, 'item').each(function(item, i) {
    060      var feed = new Feed();
    061      feed.title = getChildsText(item, 'title');
    062 = getChildsText(item, 'link');
    063      feed.description = getChildsText(item, 'description');
    064     parseForCityState(feed);
    066     geoCode(feed);
    067     feeds.push(feed);
    069     });
    070     placeOnMap(feeds);
    071    }
    073    function placeOnMap(feeds) {
    074     var locToFeed = new Hash();
    075     feeds.each(function(feed) {
    076     if(feed.geoAddress) {
    077       var thisKey = feed.geoAddress.getMQLatLng().toString();
    078     if(locToFeed.keys().indexOf(thisKey) > -1) {
    079       locToFeed.get(thisKey).push(feed);
    080     } else {
    081         var a = new Array();
    082         a.push(feed);
    083         locToFeed.set(thisKey, a);
    084       }
    085      }
    086     });
    088    locToFeed.values().each(function(feeds) {
    089      var html = '';
    090      feeds.each(function(feed) {
    091       html += "<a href='#{link}'>#{title}</a>
    092      });
    093      var poi = new MQPoi(feeds[0].geoAddress.getMQLatLng());
    094      poi.setInfoTitleHTML(feeds[0].city);
    095     poi.setInfoContentHTML(html);
    096     g_mqMap.addPoi(poi);
    097     });
    098    }
    100    function geoCode(feed) {
    101     if( != '') {
    102     var address = new MQAddress();
    103     address.setCity(;
    104     address.setState(feed.state);
    105     address.setCountry(;
    107     var gaCollection = new MQLocationCollection("MQGeoAddress");
    108     g_geoExec.geocode(address, gaCollection);
    109     feed.geoAddress = gaCollection.get(0);
    110    }
    111    }
    113    function parseForCityState(feed) {
    114     var match = feed.description.match(/^([^(]+)\(AP\)/);
    115     if(match) {
    116      var cityAndMaybeState = match[1].split(',');
    117 = cityAndMaybeState[0];
    118      if(cityAndMaybeState.length > 1) {
    119        feed.state = cityAndMaybeState[1];
    120      }
    121     }
    122    }
    124    function getChildsText(item, whichChild) {
    125     var child =, whichChild)[0];
    126     return Element.cleanWhitespace(child).firstChild.nodeValue;
    127    }
    128   </script>
    129  </head>
    131  <body onload="startMap();">
    132   <h1>MapNews</h1>
    133   <hr>
    134   <div id="mapWindow" style=""></div>
    135   <hr>
    136  </body>
    137 </html>
  • Ribbit, Kayak, and MapQuest Mashup is a Winner

    Earlier this month we told you about a "Great Mashup using APIs from Ribbit, Kayak, and MapQuest" by Andrew Powell, shamelessly plugging it to help him win a Wii.

    Well, not only did Andrew win the 306|Flex API Contest and the Wii, he also won some help restyling the UI.

    Check out the restyled and award-winning Ribbit, Kayak, MapQuest Hotel Search Mashup. Congrats Andy!

  • Map It! - Building a MapQuest Mac OS X Dashboard Widget - Part 4 - Advanced Geocoding

    Younger hackers are hard to classify. They're probably just as diverse as the old hackers are. We're all over the map. - Larry Wall

    In Part 1 I showed you how to get started with the MapQuest Platform by getting a developer key. In Part 2 I put that key to use by providing access to a basic map in the Map It! widget. Part 3 showed you how to incorporate basic geocoding. In this installment I'll discuss more advanced geocoding topics - including handling multiple matches and specifying geocode search options.

    Multiple Matches

    The version of the Map It! widget developed in Part 3 added the ability to plot a point of interest on the map. In the Java application that was developed to return the coordinates of an address, only the first match is returned. What if the user enters a street address without the house number? Geocoding would actually return multiple results. We need to change the getLocation method developed in Part 3 to return each match. On a search without a house number for example, the geocoding process would return points for each range of addresses. Listing 1 shows how the getLocation method has been modified:

    Listing 1

      public static String getLocation(String street, String city,
        String state, String zip, String country)
          String result;
            MapQuest.Exec is the MapQuest client object.
            All server requests, such as Geocode and Search, are part of the
            Exec object.
            Exec geocodeClient = new Exec();
            geocodeClient.setClientId ("** YOUR CLIDENT ID **");
            geocodeClient.setPassword ("** YOUR PASSWORD **");
          // create a new address object
          Address originAddress = new Address();
          // create a new location collection to save the results
          LocationCollection geocodeResults = new LocationCollection();
          // save the parsed address
               // This is the first communication with the MapQuest server
               // Try converting the address to coordinates
             // create a new GeoAddress
               GeoAddress geoAddress = new GeoAddress();
           // any results returned?
           if(geocodeResults.getSize() > 0) {
            // loop through each result
            for(int i=0; i < geocodeResults.getSize(); i++) {
                  geoAddress = (GeoAddress)geocodeResults.getAt(i);
              // append the coordinates and information about that
              // matching location
              result = result +
               String.valueOf(new Double(geoAddress.getLatLng().getLatitude())) +
               "|" + String.valueOf(new
               Double(geoAddress.getLatLng().getLongitude())) + "|" +
                 geoAddress.getStreet() + "|" + geoAddress.getCity()  + "|" +
                   geoAddress.getState() + "|" + geoAddress.getCountry() + "|" +
                 geoAddress.getPostalCode() + "\n";
            catch (Exception e)
          // anything wrong - print an error message
          return "ERROR";
          // if the address is not found - report NOT FOUND
            return "NOT FOUND";

    For each match that is returned by geocoding, the result string is appended with the coordinates, and street, city, state, zip, and country of that location. Each parameter is separated by | for easy parsing in JavaScript.

    Geocoding Options

    The API documentation indicates that the default geocoding options will typically be adequate for most developers. However, there are a few options you can specify that ma be of interest. These include:

    • MatchType - A constant that corresponds to the granularity of the desired match.
    • QualityType - The minimum confidence necessary for a match.
    • MaxMatches - the maximum number of matchers to return.

    These options are explained in detail in Chapter 3 of the Java API Developer Guide.

    To specify an option you need to create a GeocodeOptions object, then specify the MatchType, QualityType, or MaxMatches properties. (The constants for each option are specified in Chapter 3). As shown in Listing 2, the GeoCodeOptions object is passed as a parameter to the geocode method.

    Listing 2

    // create a geocode options object
    GeocodeOptions geocodeOptions = new GeocodeOptions();
    // return only exact matches
    // create the options collection object
    // then add the option to the options collection
    GeocodeOptionsCollection geocodeOptionsCollection =
      new GeocodeOptionsCollection();
    try {
      // perform the search
      Client.geocode(originAddress, geocodeResults, geocodeOptionsCollection);

    Selecting the Best Match

    Now that multiple locations are returned for a search, those results need to be displayed to the user in a combo box, as shown in Figure 1.

    Figure 1

    When the users selects an address from the combo box that point is displayed on the map. To do this we need to change the onAddressSearch JavaScript function introduced in Part 3, as follows:

    function onAddressSearch(event) {
        // user hit a return?
          if(event.keyCode == 13) {
          if(!$(address).value.blank()) {
          var street = "";
          var city = "";
          var state = "";
          var zip = "";
          var country = "";
           $(lblErrorMsg).innerText = "";
             $(multMatches).style.visibility = "hidden";
           $(lblMultMatch).style.visibility = "hidden";
             var splitAddr = $(address).value.split(',');
           // if we only get 2 elements assume address, zip
           if(splitAddr.length == 2) {
            street = splitAddr[0];
            zip = splitAddr[1];
            // for three elements assume address, city, state
            } else if(splitAddr.length == 3) {
            street = splitAddr[0];
            city = splitAddr[1];
            state = splitAddr[2];
            // for 4 elements assume address, city, state, zip
            } else if(splitAddr.length == 4) {
            street = splitAddr[0];
            city = splitAddr[1];
            state = splitAddr[2];
            zip = splitAddr[3];
            // for 5 elements assume address, city, state, zip, country
            } else if(splitAddr.length == 5) {
            street = splitAddr[0];
            city = splitAddr[1];
            state = splitAddr[2];
            zip = splitAddr[3];
            country = splitAddr[4];
            } else {
            // error! unknown address
            $(lblErrorMsg).innerText = "Error! Unknown Address Format!";
           var result = widget.system('java -classpath .:mq.jar GetLocations
             -street "' + street + '" -city "' + city + '" -state "' + state + '"
             -zip "' + zip + '" -country "' +country + '"',null).outputString;
           // any errors?
           if(result == "ERROR") {
            $(lblErrorMsg).innerText = "Error! Unknown Address Format!";
           // address not found?
           } else if (result == "NOT FOUND") {
            $(lblErrorMsg).innerText = "Address Was Not Found!";
           } else {
           // split on return - a line is printed for each individual result
           var eachresult = result.split('\n');
           // just one result returned? - then just plot the point
           if(eachresult.length == 1) {
              // get the coordinates from the returned string
              var coords = result.split('|');
              // create a new point based on the coordinates
              newCenter = new MQLatLng(parseFloat(coords[0]),parseFloat(coords[1]));
              // create a point
              myPoint = new MQPoi(newCenter);
              // recenter the map on the point,
              // the second parameter specifies the zoom level
              // add the point as a Point of Interest
           } else {
              // clear out existing items
              $(multMatches).options.length = 0;
              for(var i=0; i < eachresult.length; i++) {
                // parse each returned location
                var location = eachresult[i].split('|');
                // 7 items on the result line?
                if(location.length == 7) {
                  var locationtext = location[2] + "," + location[3] +
                    "," + location[4] + "," + location[5] + "," + location[6];
                  var objNewOption = document.createElement("OPTION");
                  // add the location text
                  objNewOption.text = locationtext;
                  // add the coordinates as a | separate string to the value...
                  objNewOption.value = location[0] + '|' + location[1];
              // show the label and combo box...
              $(multMatches).style.visibility = "visible";
              $(lblMultMatch).style.visibility = "visible";

    A separate line is returned for each matching location. The text is displayed for each option, and the value is set to the coordinates. When the user selects an item, the coordinates value is retrieved and the point is plotted on the map.


    In Part 5 I'll discuss enhancements to the Map It! widget, including setting the default zoom level when adding an API, specifying point of interest icons, and the default map type. For your reference, here are some references to the MapQuest Platform:

  • MapNews - A Map Based News Browser - Part 2 - Initial Design

    "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." - Lewis Carroll

    Like many developers I often start a project by jumping in and writing code. For this project I'm going try something a little different and create a road map for my mapping project.

    My project is named MapNews. In my prior post, I covered the project concept: present a map with markers/information windows which show news headlines by location.

    Doing the design up front is a bit of a jump off of a cliff for me. I've had only a light reading of the MapQuest Platform documentation and am going to proceed to layout the design. This should be interesting; as the project unfolds, I'll be able to look back and see my misconceptions exposed.

    Without further ado, I present the following sketch of my design:

    One implicit choice I've made here is to use JavaScript on the client to access the MapQuest functionality. Other language choices and/or server side implementation are allowed as the MapQuest Platform has bindings for Java, .NET, CPP, and ActionScript.

    The server will hold RSS feeds arranged by topics such as National or Business news. A complete system would include a server side process to collect and cache RSS feeds. I'm focusing on the MapQuest API so I may not build out this component. Instead, I'll just stage a couple of RSS XML files on the server.

    I plan to fetch the RSS feeds with an AJAX component after the initial load of index.html to the browser. I'll also need some JavaScript to parse the RSS feeds and discover which items have associated locations and then geocode the locations via the MapQuest API. MapNews JavaScript will also have to invoke the MapQuest JavaScript API to create the map and place markers and information windows on the map.

    I've shown the processes executing on the client. However, the physical location of the JavaScript files is also important and is driven by browser security restrictions (scripts can only call back to the domain from which they are served).

    For basic maps the MapQuest (MQ) JavaScript files can be directly included from a MapQuest server. For more complex functionality such as searching and routing the MapQuest JavaScript files need to be located on your server. The MQ JavaScript files then communicate with MapQuest servers via a proxy located on your server. MapQuest provides proxy implementations in several languages (Java, PHP5, .Net, ROR, and Flash). I have PHP on my server so that's an easy choice.

    That is about all I have in my initial design. The next steps are to get the infrastructure set up. I plan to follow the instructions in the MapQuest Advantage Developer Guide to configure and install the proxy. Then, I am off to the fun parts of writing the RSS parsing code and using the MQ API to bring MapNews to life.