MapQuest Zooming Away With Its Features

Adam DuVander
Aug. 25 2009, 02:17AM EDT

It may be a long way from first place in API mindshare, but web mapping pioneer MapQuest has been making major upgrades to its Flash and JavaScript APIs (our MapQuest API profile).

Can you believe the MapQuest JavaScript API is in its sixth version? MapQuest claims the code base received a "complete overhaul" to make the platform easier to use. Even with those mostly invisible changes, the company found time to add draggable routes, to the API. Now a mainstay of both Google and MapQuest's main sites, this feature allows users to alter part of the directions, something that has never been available in API form.

MapQuest draggable route

A focus on directions makes sense for MapQuest, which has been famous for its routing since the early days of the web. Its site still focuses on directions, as opposed the do-anything, local search approach taken by competitors Google and Yahoo.

The Flash API has a preview release available of its sixth version, which contains a number of new features. Most notable is a scalable, color-customizable marker icon (the famous MapQuest star).

MapQuest resizeable star

MapQuest's main site has been neck and neck with Google Maps, according to Hitwise, after leading for a long time. Without the power of Google's search engine to send users, MapQuest gets most of its traffic from type-ins. Direct traffic suggests a powerful brand, but so far the API hasn't lived up to the brand's potential.

Recently MapQuest seems to be making a push to be the leader it once was. It has the only free routing web service. And the announcements from its developer blog are regular enough to suggest it has a number of employees with noses down on the API grindstone.

Are you a mapping developer? Which provider do you use? And what would MapQuest need to offer to make you switch?

Adam DuVander Hi! I'm Developer Communications Director for SendGrid and former Executive Editor of ProgrammableWeb. I currently serve as a Contributing Editor. If you have API news, or are interested in writing for ProgrammableWeb, please contact editor@programmableweb.com Though I'm a fan of anything API-related, my particular interest is in mapping. I've published a how-to book, Map Scripting 101, to get anyone started making maps on websites. In a not-so-distant past life I wrote for Wired and Webmonkey.

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