Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Directions web service arrives at Google I/O

Google I/O is always a fantastic opportunity for the Maps API team to meet face to face with some of the many Maps API developers worldwide. We believe our developer community is one of the biggest strengths of the Google Maps API, and with over 350,000 web sites actively using the Maps API, there is no shortage of skilled and helpful expertise to tap into.

However Google I/O is not the only way in which we engage with developers. The Google Maps API Google Groups are thriving communities and many of us on the Maps API team enjoy listening and engaging in discussions held on these Groups. In addition we also have the Google Maps API Issue Tracker, a tool with which any Maps API developer can report problems with the API, suggest new features that they would benefit from, or star existing issues or features.

The Google Maps API team takes the problems and ideas featured on the Issue Tracker very seriously, and although we can not always address every issue that is raised, we do consider any that attract a lot of stars. Recently one feature request in particular has been head and shoulders above the rest in terms of the number of stars it has attracted. It therefore only seems appropriate today, as we sit down with our developer community for a Fireside Chat, that we respond to that request by launching a Directions Web Service.

The Directions Web Service is a companion to the existing Geocoding and Elevation Web Services, and allows applications to obtain Driving, Bicycling, and Walking directions through an XML/JSON REST interface. All of the features of the Map API v3 Directions service are supported, including “avoid highways”, “avoid tolls”, and waypoint optimization (travelling salesman solver). For more information, check out the Directions Web Services documentation.

If you have a great idea for a new Maps API feature, please don’t hesitate to submit it to the Issue Tracker. If your idea proves to be popular, we’ll do our best to make it a reality.