MultiMap the quiet mapping API revolution
Many of us in the UK are used to seeing MultiMap's maps on company websites. They have been more or less the "de facto" web site mapping choice in the UK for years.
I'm sure most of us who are familiar with MultiMap associate them with the very simple, not very exciting, static maps where you have to reload a page to move the map or zoom, as the screen shot shows below:
But how many of you know they actually have a much more up to date mapping API with all the features of a typical web 2.0 mapping solution and a few unique features?
It seems MultiMap have been busy over the last few years. Unfortunately not many of their clients seem to have taken advantage of the new API so most of us have missed out experiencing it for ourselves.
So What's Different About The MultiMap API?
Multimap have a few unique features to help developers get their mapping projects out of the door much quicker that are not found in many competitors mapping APIs for example:
- Built in browser compatibility testing and handling
This gives you a quick way to check compatibility and presents a static map solution to non compatible browsers
- Coverage check before panning / zooming
This allows a developer to check the availability of imagery before allowing the users to pan or zoom - really useful to stop users zooming in too far
- Built-in 'right mouse click' context menus
Allowing developers to quickly create their own custom context menus
- Built-in client side pushpin clustering
This can be used when you have lots of overlapping icons and has two options for how to display the overlapping pushpins
- Client side filtering of pushpins
You can filter pushpins quickly and simply using this built in feature
- Map pan limiting
A much requested feature for Microsoft Virtual Earth is already built into MultiMap's API allowing developers to keep users within a specific boundary.
- Draggable pushpins
A built in method to make pushpins draggable
- Tabbed Infoboxes
This allows you to quickly create tabs within the map popup 'info' boxes - very nice for situations where you have lots of data to display
- Innovative web services
There are a number of webservices you can use with the API including searching by travel distance / duration, searching along routes, carbon emission calculation and loads more.
- Clever imagery selection
MultiMap's user interface has some very usable features including previews of mapping styles with roads on and off
Take a good look at all these features and more at the MultiMap API demos page.
What's MultiMap's Future?
As some of you may know MultiMap were bought by Microsoft last year who of course have their own mapping API Virtual Earth. What does this mean for MultiMap?
In the short term it means MultiMap now have access to the brilliant imagery including birdseye photography, that Virtual Earth offers. It seems that Microsoft have made a commitment to continue developing the MultiMap API alongside Virtual Earth as an alternative solution and as you can see from its developer features quite an attractive alternative.
However what the long term plan for MultiMap and Virtual Earth is, I don't think anyone knows quiet yet but it would be great to see some of MultiMap's innovative features make it into the next Virtual Earth release.
Summing it all up
As you can see MultiMap's API has some really neat features making it one of the most developer focused mapping API's available. I encourage you at least to go and have a play with their demos.
Earthware, as specialists in bespoke Virtual Earth implementations, would love to see some of their features get built into Virtual Earth, especially the much requested clustering, pan limiting and coverage data functionality. Also MultiMap's web services set a real challenge to other providers in terms of functionality that we would love to see ported to Virtual Earth / MapPoint web services.