In an effort toward greater support for developers — and API developers in particular — MapQuest has released a raft of substantial changes over the last couple of months.
Since late May, MapQuest has added new developer support tools and products to their suite:
- A new self-service storefront with the goal of making MapQuest’s APIs available to any developer in under three minutes
- A new developer blog
- A new developer portal
- A new Developer Geospatial Toolkit that includes APIs and SDKs built with a mobile-first vision
- New partnerships with Mapbox to make use of Mapbox’s extensive basemaps, satellite imagery, and terrain tools
- New business tools aimed at helping business users create new market entry products using MapQuest APIs
“We have a robust suite of geo-tools: traffic, geocoding, maps, spatial search, that have all the APIs,” says Nate Abbott, VP of Product and Design at MapQuest. “We are one of the leaders in geo APIs in the world. We have thousands of customers. That is our existing business.”
Abbott believes many of the new tools — created using Apigee’s API management platform — will help independent, business, and enterprise developers identify new market opportunities. The new developer portal, for example, is aimed at helping MapQuest identify innovative use cases and business models around using their APIs. According to Abbott:
“The geospace is really exploding right now. It is an extremely good time to be in the geospace. A lot of the companies exploding in the tech space — like Uber, for example — all of them are predicated on geo APIs. I couldn’t be more excited about our market position.”
Brad Maglinger, CMO at MapQuest, says that with the geo-data and integration space heating up, it was time for an overhaul of MapQuest’s API portal in order to offer “the best dev experience out there.”
The new developer portal includes sample code and a freemium plan for up to 15,000 API calls per month.
“We are huge believers in sample applications,” says Maglinger. “For example, we have a simple way to create a store locator. And we have a mash-up of traffic and incidents mapping that could be used in a family-friendly kids’ transport app,” says Maglinger.
Perhaps what needs to happen next is for MapQuest to create a marketplace area where developers who are experts in using MapQuests’ APIs can promote their services. Websites like Toptal maintain lists of the top 10 MapQuest API developers each month, but if MapQuest wants to truly show that it is encouraging developers, they need to eventually be providing a platform so that MapQuest API developers can connect with potential businesses looking for integration expertise. A successful ecosystem needs successful businesses, and an API provider can be helping their developers find new business through a platform, as enterprise API provider Podio found earlier this year.
“We have a strong existing base of devs using our APIs out there already,” confirms Abbott. Perhaps the conflict with MapQuest’s inservice consulting service arm will limit their dev portal from offering a platform marketplace. “We do have professional services here at MapQuest,” says Abbott. “Then if you do need help with APIs, we offer that as a commercial service. But given our extremely long tenure of offering APIs for 15 years, there is an incredible number of dev shops out there who have experience working on our APIs.”