Since the major search engines have opened up their mapping tools to programmers, geocoding has become an essential step in the process of building many a mashup.
Geocoding is the process of converting human-readable place data — a city name, ZIP code, or address — to latitude and longitude points that can be easily plotted on a map.
Yahoo’s HTTP Geocoder API is easy to use, and its output is easy to incorporate into your applications. This article will describe its features and show some examples of how to access the results.
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Google Maps is perhaps the biggest and most useful of all the common web APIs. Who doesn’t love clicking and dragging those sleek, clean maps? But it’s also one of the more complex APIs, which can be intimidating for newcomers. It’s also somewhat difficult to immediately recognize all the possibilities of the Google Maps API since there are literally hundreds of ways to use it.
We’re going to dive right in. But to keep things simple, we’ll start with a very common use: Adding a map to your site and displaying some markers.
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Online maps are a popular way to spice up a site. To get the most use out of them, you need data to plot: addresses from a database, location clicks from the user or at least coordinates for the map’s center. With any map, you have to start somewhere.
If you’re low on data, you can fill in the map with local listings, such as those you’d find in the Yellow Pages. You can show coffee shops or pizza joints right along your other data, or even on its own.
In this tutorial I’ll show how to use Yahoo Local to search for nearby businesses and landmarks, then plot those locations on a Yahoo Map using the Ajax API.
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This is the basic structure of a data call to Yahoo Maps’ API. This will draw a 500px by 300px map centered on Wired’s San Francisco offices, complete with zoom and pan controls. When the user clicks on the location marker, a pop-up box will appear with some text inside.
All of these attributes can be changed by modifying the code below. You’ll need to use your own API key.
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Yahoo’s Maps API may not be as popular as Google’s mashup mainstay, but it has many of the same features. In some ways, it’s even easier to use than Google’s Maps API, so beginners getting started with API interaction might prefer Yahoo’s implementation.
To get started working with Yahoo maps, we’ll simply create a map we can display on a web page, and then add a marker to denote a particular location.
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