MapQuest Opens Its Directions Data

You can now bring the power of MapQuest routing to your application, whether it runs on a server or in the browser. The granddaddy of mapping announced a Beta release of a brand new web service for driving directions.

How it works: Through a simple REST-based interface, you pass a from address and a to address. MapQuest will return either XML or JSON with a callback. That means you can parse XML using a server-side language, or plop it right in your JavaScript and inject the content with the DOM.

MapQuest directions XML

This means you could, theoretically, have MapQuest directions on top of a Google Map. Nothing in the terms seems to suggest otherwise.

Of course, Google has a directions API of its own, but it only provides results within JavaScript as its own set of objects. By using standard data formats, MapQuest has unshackled driving directions. No longer are they restricted to the browser, which makes it easier for coders to cache or store results.

To use the new feature, you'll need to have a free developer key, which you'll pass with every API call. Once you've signed up the Beta docs provide a working example directions link.

Adam DuVander -- Adam heads developer relations at Orchestrate, a database-as-a-service company. He's spent many years analyzing APIs and developer tools. Previously he worked at SendGrid, edited ProgrammableWeb and wrote for Wired and Webmonkey. Adam is also the author of mapping API cookbook Map Scripting 101.

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