OpenStreetMap Joins the Static Maps Club

Adam DuVander
Oct. 12 2009, 12:45AM EDT

The wiki of maps, OpenStreetMap, has gone static. Its OpenStreetMap API now has an option to show a static map version, rather than a JavaScript "slippy" map. The more interactive version is still available, but could be more than is needed for many uses.

The new feature comes thanks to Google Summer of Code and Pawel Niechoda, the student who spent the last few months plugging away for OpenStreetMaps.

Graceland on OpenStreetMaps

To create a static image, like the one of Graceland above, you simply pass the center of the map, zoom level, and dimensions to OpenStreetMap.

Static APIs have become more popular lately. Google upgraded its static API and MapQuest released its first take. One reason for the popularity could be how maps are being used. On many sites, developers simply point out a single location, using an interactive map in a non-interactive manner. This is more resource intensive for the mapping provider, as well as slower for the user to load. Static maps create a simple way to solve this issue.

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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