All posts tagged ‘mapquest’

File Under: Location, Web Services

MapQuest U.K Teams Up With OpenStreetMap

The grandaddy of online mapping sites is turning to an open source library for its cartography data.

Mapquest, which is owned by AOL, launched a new beta site Friday that uses data from OpenStreetMap. So far, the OpenStreetMap data is only available on MapQuest for the United Kingdom and some of continental Europe, but MapQuest says it will broaden the scope of this experiment in the future.

Just to show it’s not messing around, the company has also established a $1 million fund “to support the growth of open-source mapping in the United States.” So, we can expect MapQuest to start hosting U.S. maps from OpenStreetMap at some point.

OpenStreetMap is like a Wikipedia for maps. It’s a fully open source and crowdsourced project. All of the geodata in the OSM system is gathered and entered by volunteers, and all of it is freely available for all to use. Furthermore, if you find an inaccuracy in a map anywhere in the world, you can actually go in and fix it. Here’s what a year’s worth of OSM edits looks like.

There’s a wiki with more information if you want to get involved. We’ve written extensively about the project before — check out some of the links at the bottom of this article.

MapQuest is using OSM for tile images and all cartographic data. It is then applying its own user interface and routing algorithms on top of OpenStreetMaps’ maps.

Here’s what MapQuest’s Antony Pegg has to say about the project on the MapQuest developer blog:

The goal was to create a MapQuest experience for the United Kingdom using only OpenStreetMap data. As much as possible we tried to use the open source software used by the OSM community, so anything we did to these tools could be contributed back. We picked the UK first because we felt we had the best shot of getting use-able routes from the data without having to worry about a language barrier at the same time.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Copycat MapQuest Continues to Play Catch-up

MapQuest draggable route directions

Online mapping pioneer MapQuest released a feature to customize driving directions by dragging the route. Google Maps, the relative upstart that continues to lead with its snazzy tool, published a similar feature over sixteen months ago.

You’ve got to feel for MapQuest, who first brought driving directions to the web in 1996, two years before Google was even founded. Remarkably, MapQuest is still the leader in online mapping, but it saw its market share recently shrink below 50%.

Google changed online mapping when it jumped into the scene in 2005 using Ajax to create a draggable map and non-refresh zooming. MapQuest seems to have struggled more than other mapping tools not just to innovate, but to even keep up. Several months after Google Maps was released, MapQuest released an Ajax-enabled map, though it still required what now seem like old timey buttons to choose the direction to move the map.

This latest feature also feels like a lesser copy. The map is resource-intensive and all the way at the bottom of the driving directions screen. Dragging the route feels clunky. Once I released my new route, it disappears, only to turn a second or two later.

There is a silver lining in this new MapQuest feature. The company is not sitting still and is working on its feature-set, even if it is mostly copying its competitors. Hopefully the pioneer of online mapping will find some time to remove the arrows from its back and bring us something as revolutionary as it did in 1996, or Google did in 2005.

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