MapQuest is inviting developers to take its Static Map v5 API for a spin while in beta. The refreshed API has a handful of new features that should appeal to developers who rely on MapQuest's mapping tools. The beta is being offered through the end of 2016.
MapQuest Static Map v5 API lists five core new functions. First and foremost, retina maps now have four times as many pixels. This may put the hurt on same apps by increasing the potential size of map files, but the high-resolution imagery will look far better on devices and in print. It's also important to help MapQuest-based mapping products remain competitive with the high-resolution offerings from Google, Microsoft, and others.
Up next, the Static Map v5 API adds a handful of new map styles, including light, dark, satellite, and hybrid. Savvy users have come to expect such options when viewing maps. Dark modes are particularly helpful when navigating at night, and nothing surpasses satellite maps' ability to show users exactly what's what when seeking out particular addresses or locations. MapQuest didn't say anything about features similar to "street view."
MapQuest is now allowing developers to add and customize banners in their maps. Custom banners can be put to a number of uses, such as keeping a website's style aligned with the proper fonts and colors no matter what part of the site is displayed. This goes hand-in-hand with the fourth new function, which allows for enhanced icons that can be modified to match the site or app's style and branding.
Last, MapQuest Static Map v5 API offers simplified and more efficient commands resulting in shorter URLs. Everyone likely agrees that shorter URLs are better URLs.
In all, these tools give MapQuest developers a lot more flexibility to customize and enhance their own mapping products and/or services.
The Static Maps v5 API is available here. Documentation is fairly solid. For example, the resource center describes and provides examples of basic mapping parameters, how to add locations, how to add/use banners, and how to add preprogrammed routes. A getting started guide is available, too.
MapQuest warns that the those who already use the Static Map v4 API can test the v5 API at will, but API calls will count toward monthly/annual transaction limits. The beta is schedule to dend Dec. 31, 2016. MapQuest didn't explicitly say if the API will transition to a full release at that point.