MapQuest Developer Blog

  • Temporary Outage: Data Manager API on 11/08

    As part of MapQuest's continuing effort to improve our products and services, we will be updating the backend infrastructure of our Data Manager API during the previously scheduled November 8, 2016, maintenance window. Thus, the Data Manager API will be unavailable for a period of time.

    In order to keep your tables in sync with the Search API and move all data, the process is expected to take 8 hours. In order to best accommodate, the extended maintenance window on the Data Manager API will begin at 10 pm EST on November 7, 2016 and conclude at 6 am EST on November 8, 2016.

    The Search API will remain usable during this period with data upload to Data Manager before the change. However, data from unfinished uploads prior to the scheduled update will not be moved to the new backend.

    Please feel free to reach out to our support team with any questions at support@mapquest.com.





  • New features added to Search Ahead API

    We're not letting any grass grow under our feet here at MapQuest. New features are being added left and right, and our Search Ahead API is the latest service to benefit.

    Our most recent Improvements to POI and address queries provide faster and more comprehensive results, helping to enhance your customer's overall search experience. Specific enhancements include:

    • Improved support for pre-directionals in address queries.
      • Example: 16536 W 14th Pl or 16536 West 14th Pl will provide the same suggestion regardless of whether the query specifics 'W' or 'West.'
    • POI and location suggestions are both returned for queries that include the name of a POI and the city or city, state.
      • Example: 'Starbucks Denver or 'Starbucks Denver CO' will surface Starbucks locations in Denver, CO
    • The revision of our location biasing strategy for address queries. Address suggestions that are farther away from a user's specified location are surfaced more quickly than before.
    • 'Id' and 'name' fields have been added to suggestions surfaced from the address and adminArea collection.
    • 'Id' field have been added to suggestions surfaced from the POI collection*.

    Still holding out from trying MapQuest's Search Ahead API? Learn more about our predictive search API by visiting our product and documentation pages.

    *Please note, our POI collection is currently available to Enterprise Edition clients as a premium data add-on to the Enterprise Edition license.

  • Five Things Users Should Know About MapQuest's Directions API

    No one at MapQuest is more passionate about our APIs than our fantastic Product Managers. They know their products inside and out, backward and forward; in fact, you might call them a little evangelical. Each month, we sit down with one of our PMs to discuss what they wish our users knew about our APIs. This month, we sat down with our Product team and asked what they wish users knew about our Directions API.

    Avoid problematic roads

    Construction season is everyone's least favorite season -- lane closures, detours, it's all just the worst. MapQuest's directions API allows you to specify -- down to the specific road -- places to avoid when determining a route. Avoid that rush hour snarl on the road that's under heavy construction, avoid crossing bridges, avoid toll roads; Directions API allows you to get down in the weeds and customize your route.

    Customize your narrative

    Route narratives are a given. When we plot from point A to point B, we expect to see helpful phrases such as "Turn left on Arapahoe Road." Directions API allows you to customize that narrative to make something unique. Utilize the HTML feature to style the narrative with a custom CSS. Create an enhanced format that lets users know "If you see the movie theater, you've gone too far." Make your narrative stand out, while still being as clear and concise as expected.

    Wherever "local" takes you

    Did you know our narrative has language support? It does! With support for any ISO 639 language, your application can deliver a narrative that's spot-on in English, French, Spanish, German, and more.

    Control your points

    Every January, the National Western Stock Show takes over downtown Denver. Several main thoroughfares are blocked off so that prize-winning cattle, horses and sheep can parade through the town. It's delightful, but it also means that traffic is an absolute nightmare in the downtown area. Why are we telling you this? Because with Directions API, you can utilize Control Points, which allow you to submit a lat/lng pair for an area and push your route away from (or toward) that specific area. This means in January you could set your control point to downtown Denver, and tell the application to push any and all routes away from that point. Yes, you miss out seeing the prize-winning alpaca trotting through the Financial District, but you also get to your destination faster and more efficiently. Sorry, llama.

    Calculate your gas usage

    Do you have drivers? You probably know that Directions API is great for mileage reimbursement, but did you know it can help you calculate your fuel usage, too? Set your vehicle's MPG, and your drivers' driving style (cautious, normal or aggressive) and know, before they set out on a cross-state route, how much gas they can expect to use. That's pretty handy.

    All that's missing is you

    For more information, check out our our Directions API documentation.
  • Try MapQuest’s new Static Maps v5 API beta

    We're excited to share MapQuest’s Static Map v5 API is now in beta. As a current user of Static Map v4 API, we invite you to give the new beta a whirl. Please test it out through Friday, December 31, 2016 and report feedback to us through our forum.

    What new features are included in Static Map v5 API?

    • Retina maps with four times as many pixels for high-resolution images for printing or displaying on any device.

    • Additional map styles including light, dark, satellite and hybrid.

    • The ability to add and customize banners on your map.

    • Enhanced icons that can be modified to match your style or branding.

    • Simplified and more efficient commands resulting in shorter URLs.

    Where is the documentation?

    What’s the new endpoint?

    Please note, transactions generated while testing our new Static Map v5 API beta will count towards your monthly or annual transaction limit.

    Thanks in advance for participating in the beta and we look forward to receiving your feedback.
  • Dedicate your MapQuest route to Young Survival Coalition (YSC)

    MapQuest.com is turning pink for the month of October. But that’s not all. We’re putting our money where our routes are with Maps for Mammos. MapQuest.com is used by +42 million users* a month, and this new initiative is meant to inspire our consumer users to dedicate a route using our website. We're reaching out to our clients and developer community to help get the word out and to encourage participation.
    MQ_BreastCancer_Awareness_Campaign
    Did you know that every two minutes a woman in the U.S. is diagnosed with breast cancer and one out of every eight women in America is personally affected?
    For every trip shared and dedicated for Maps for Mammos on MapQuest's consumer website (MapQuest.com) in the month of October, MapQuest will make a donation to Young Survival Coalition (YSC) with a maximum donation of $50,000. We’re asking our clients and developer community to help MapQuest support breast cancer by joining the nearly 16 million miles that have been dedicated thus far on the consumer MapQuest.com website. Click here to learn more on how to create, dedicate and share your route on MapQuest.com. Thanks for supporting #MQMapsforMammos
  • MapQuest's Quality Codes in Action

    We spend a lot of time talking about our geocoding API and our quality codes. We've mentioned they can help you save time and money, but did you know they can also help you make better business decisions? With MapQuest, rest assured your drivers get to and from a location with ease, all through the power of quality codes.

    Let's say you own a restaurant or a store that delivers orders or merchandise to your customers. Your customers might be scattered throughout the city, from well-known streets and avenues to new suburban neighborhoods. Few things are worse for a delivery business than lost time because a delivery driver can't locate an address. MapQuest's quality codes ensure your drivers leave the store knowing they won't get lost or end up turning down side streets in the hopes of finding a building. You determine the level of quality code you're comfortable with, knowing the API will provide you with the information needed to make a better business decision.

    Let's assume that you will only deliver to anything with A's or B's in the quality code result. In practice, the customer enters their address, which makes a call to the API. The API returns a quality code and your system can determine, based off the quality code, whether or not the address is one to which you will deliver. MapQuest Quality Codes

    Example: The customer enters 1060 W. Addison St., Chicago, IL 60613, which returns a L1AAA quality code. The API decides that's an acceptable quality code and the customer is able to process their order for delivery. Your delivery driver finds the location without any problem, and everyone goes home happy.

    On the other hand, maybe a customer enters their address as 2345 Martin, Dallas, TX 78215 (instead of 2345 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Dallas, TX 75215), which returns a L1CAC. You've told the system that C's are undesirable, and the user is prompted to choose the correct address, or told they must pick up their product at the nearest store. No more calling customers to break the bad news, no more trying to decipher whether the customer fat-fingered the zip code, no more wondering if they meant to enter Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd -- that is all in the past.

    The best part is that it’s up to you and your team to determine which quality codes are and are not acceptable. This cuts down on lost time for drivers, and wait time for customers. Better systems, better experience, all with quality codes.

    Want to learn more about quality codes? For a detailed breakdown of our quality codes, please see this blog post. Visit our Geocoding documentation to learn how you can get started with MapQuest's Geocoding API.

  • Licensed Data vs. Open Data: Which is Better?

    Good data is the backbone of any location-based service or application. When building your application, you may find yourself waffling between licensed data versus open data. Your biggest question is probably “which one is right for my application?” The answer depends on your user experience.

    Data defined

    Licensed Data is, as the name implies, data compiled from a number of our commercial data providers. This data is updated quarterly and verified by our vendors, ensuring accuracy and reliability. Open data, provided primarily by the OpenStreetMap (OSM) community, is crowdsourced data compiled by a global community of map fanatics. Just how dedicated is the OSM community to having good data? During their punfully titled Mappy Hours, users gather to scope out streets, trails/walking paths/biking paths, places of interest (POIs), and landmarks.

    Defining your data needs

    Do you need POI data and locations marked everywhere from New York City, to Dinosaur, Colorado? If your business takes you to every corner of the country, licensed data provides a more reliably thorough scope. Also, with regular, quarterly updates, you can be sure that all places great and small are reviewed, verified and updated with a regular cadence. OSM has strong data in urban areas, especially in large cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc, and it’s constantly being updated. If you want your users to be able to contribute updates and edits that can be shared with the greater OSM community, open is for you.

    Defining your business

    Are you interested in our Extended Rights Geocoding (ERG) to store your geocodes in a database as well as a map? Currently, ERG is only available to licensed data customers. For more information about ERG, click here.

    The Small Print

    There are some rules involved with the use of Open data. Namely, due legal requirements from both our licensed data partners and Open Source Initiative, you cannot cross the open and licensed streams. Whichever data stream you choose, that is the one to which you are committed. For more information about open data, please see our Open APIs documentation.
  • Xapi API service to be decommissioned on October 31, 2016

    To help improve the performance and availability of our API services, MapQuest is moving to a cloud-based infrastructure. As part of this move we are retiring several older legacy services that are no longer widely used. This includes the Xapi API service.

    On October 31, 2016 we’re retiring the Xapi open API service. This is an older OpenStreetMap open source API that is no longer supported in the open source community, and we recommend anyone still using Xapi move to the open source Overpass API service. MapQuest does not offer the Overpass API, check the OpenStreetMap wiki below for sources.

    The Overpass API includes a powerful query language with with a much more robust feature set compared to the former Xapi based tools. Also, the Overpass API provides a compatibility layer that allows a smooth transition from Xapi.

    For details on XAPI and Overpass view the OpenStreetMap wiki entry on Xapi and the Overpass wiki entry.
  • MapQuest University: What is a Geofence?

    The mapping industry is full of buzzwords. Each month, MapQuest University will help explore these terms and how you can improve your user experience through better understanding. The buzzword for this month is "geofence." What is a geofence? How can you use a geofence? We sat down with Arthur May, Product Manager on our Location Intelligence team, and asked him to give us the rundown on geofencing.

    What is a geofence?

    Quite simply, it’s a virtually-defined area and a device’s movement relative to that area. Geofences are typically situated around a defined point. For example, let’s say you set up a 700-foot geofence around your house. Geofencing allows you to track when a person or device is approaching within 700' of your house, or when a person or device is leaving that defined space. In addition to tracking and alerting, geofencing can also tell you the time associated with these actions; it takes two minutes to get 700’ away from your house.

    Geofence-blog-image

    What can you do with it?

    You’re probably thinking “That’s all well and good, but what can I do with it,” right? We’re glad you asked. The application possibilities for a geofence are nigh limitless. Maybe you own a small business, Pete’s World of Fish. As a small business owner, you’re probably in a constant state of luring in new customers. Geofencing allows you to alert a user, from an app, within a defined block-radius of your location. Go ahead, invite them in, offer a coupon, and make new friends and customers. Maybe you work on a large construction site and need some digital help herding all of the cats, making sure everyone on the job is where they’re supposed to be. Set up a geofence around the site and receive a ping when workers enter and leave the geofence so that you know, for certain, when your ducks are in a row. Or maybe you want a device that you can put in your suitcase, thus creating a geofence around the suitcase. Receive peace of mind that your luggage is following you to and from your destination. Or know, in advance, if your luggage hasn’t left your origin spot, and know when to start panicking. (This is one of those fears, ya know?)

    What is MapQuest Working On?

    Right now, MapQuest is exploring ways in which we can empower businesses to leverage geofences to provide a balance between client-side and server-side relations. That’s fancy talk for saying that we want businesses -- of any size -- to make better decisions and improve their user relationship, all through the power of geofencing. The other morning, Arthur stumbled upon a fantastic use case. While jogging at 6 a.m., he approached a drug store chain, and he received an alert suggesting he visit the store and use his rewards card. Of course, the drug store isn’t open at 6am, so that’s a pretty silly alert, isn’t it? What if, instead, the drug store chain could set a geofence that not only included a proximity alert -- alerting customers who are within two or three blocks of the store -- but also included open/close hours? That way, you wouldn’t get an alert at 6 a.m., but you might get one at 9 a.m., on the same trail, thus actively encouraging you to visit the store. Isn’t that a better business-owner and customer relationship? That is the power of geofencing, and MapQuest’s Location Intelligence team.
  • 2 September Hackathons = 1 Awesome Recap Video

    In September, our calendar looked eerily similar to a Tetris board. We sponsored two national hackathons and had outstanding turnouts at both. Those hackathons included:

    • TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon, in San Francisco on September 10-11
    • Verizon Hack Day, in Irving, TX, on September 10
    Now that our schedules are slightly settling down, here's a quick rundown of what happened throughout the weekend:

    At both Hackathon events, more than 100 developers hacked our APIs and SDKs, with 31 team submissions at TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon. We provided free on-site tutorials and guidance from our top developers, provided 500 cups of coffee, gave away 300 water bottles and raffled off 3 snazzy Timbuk2 backpacks.

    We, also, produced this quick and awesome TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon recap video. Take a gander now:

    MapQuest Logo on Desktop with Play Button
    Be sure to also check out the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon final projects here. And, for more information on MapQuest's APIs and SDKs, head on over to our documentation.