Give Santa Directions with Open MapQuest API

MapQuest launched another site on top of OpenStreetMap, this time for the United States. With it, came an opportunity to have your directions written in "Santa Speak," something that is also available in MapQuest's Open Directions API, along with several other languages. The new site is MapQuest's largest built with data from the "free wiki world map" and consumes at least one API itself, for showing bugs in OpenStreetMap's database.

You can see the Santa directions in action on by selecting the "Santa Speak" language. To change the language in Open Directions API results, you'll need to add a locale parameter. And to get it to speak Santa? You'll need to request the not-so-standard en_US_SANTA. For example, here's JSON of directions from Santa Fe to Santa Monica.

The directions themselves work, though not necessarily for flying. You'll still need to take normal roads and abide by non-Santa law. However, each instruction is filled with Santa's whimsy, with directives like "Point your sleigh WEST," "Turn your reindeer LEFT" and "Merge joyously onto I-25."

MapDustThe new Open MapQuest site also incorporates MapDust OpenStreetMap bug tracking via the MapDust API. Users of the site can see areas where others have identified problems in the user-contributed map. And, using MapQuest, users can also fix the errors when it's in an area with which they are familiar. In that way, MapQuest is playing nicely with the OpenStreetMap community, not just taking data, something that we discussed in October with Kate Chapman, president of the OpenStreetMap U.S. chapter.

MapQuest has made a big push to build a series of products on top of OpenStreetMap data, even hiring developers and evangelists from within the project's community. Directions has been one of the tools that has received the most attention, perhaps because routing has arguably been a lesser priority for OpenStreetMap. In August MapQuest released its Open Directions API and last month added international bike directions.

Be sure to read the next Mapping article: CloudMade Acquires Mobile Mapping Company, Goes Cross-Platform