MapQuest Offers Unlimited Free API Calls

We've seen that the Google Maps API gets the lion's share of Web 2.0-style mashups, but the overall market share leader in online mapping is still dotcom veteran MapQuest. And though they may have been behind in this part of the market they're looking to make up for lost time with their their announcement of the new MapQuest Platform: Free Edition. This substantial new release replaces their first generation open API launched almost exactly two years ago. We've updated our MapQuest directory profile with technical details on the lasted API.

As you can see on their Why Join? page, one of key reasons for using the API is that now there's no limit on the number of standard and tiled maps, geocodes, and routes and no fees for publicly available websites. This is in contrast to most of the other well know public mapping APIs which eventually reach a ceiling above which developers must work-out a for-fee contract with the provider either for map displays or geocodes. (Note that MapQuest still offers commercial, for-fee services starting at $5,000 per year that provides additional enterprise grade requirements like SLAs and phone support.)

This strategy reflects just how competitive this space is with over over 50 mapping-related APIs.

Not only are they releasing an API, they're releasing six APIs: Java, C++, .NET, JavaScript, (Adobe ActionScript 3: Flash, Flex, AIR), and their own creation they call FUJAX: "Flash Under JavaScript and XML, which allows developers to write in JavaScript, yet leverage the power of Flash." In terms of Ajax and RIA-style features, there's a wide range of functionality, some of which are available from other mapping providers and some of which only MapQuest provides:

  • Aerial Imagery and Hybrid Views - Satellite imagery and aerial photography.
  • Smart Rollovers - Rollover windows that adapt their size and positioning on the map based on the content placed in the window.
  • Smooth Zoom - Animated transitions between zoom levels.
  • Globe View - A map of the world presented as an interactive globe.
  • "Flickable" Maps - Maps that continue to pan based on speed and friction settings.
  • Advanced Shape Overlays - Build apps that allow users to create and interact with a variety of overlays on maps.
  • Advanced Map Marker Features - With "declutter mode," automatically move collided markers (POIs) to alternate positions on the map with a customizable leader line pointing back to their original location.

Note that in addition to our new ProgrammableWeb Mapping API and Mashup Dashboard we also now have a dedicated Mapping RSS feed that includes any and all mapping related news from PW including new APIs, mashups, news and code.

Be sure to read the next Mapping article: Microsoft Virtual Earth Gets Vegas in 3D