A Summary of the Future of Mapping

Over the last few days we’ve launched the CloudMade Developer Programme in front of packed audiences in San Francisco and London.  There was a real buzz at both events – a feeling that the tools and services we’ve been working on are going to make a real difference to developers.

There’s a lot of anticipation at CloudMade about the applications that can be built using our mapping APIs.  If you’re looking for inspiration, you need a quick recap, or you couldn’t make it to the events, read on to find out more.

Cragg Nilson presents the agenda.

The OpenStreetMap Story

OpenStreetMap is a global movement of more than 90,000 volunteer mappers who are re-mapping the world.  The project was started by CloudMade co-Founder Steve Coast in 2004.  Like many great inventions, the idea of OpenStreetMap grew from Steve’s personal desire to have a detailed map of his local area that he could use in any way.  He wanted a map he could hack on, so he started making his own map and quickly realized that a community of volunteer mappers could create a map that was far richer and far more relevant to people’s needs than maps created by traditional mapping companies.

Fast-forward to 2009 and OpenStreetMap has become an unstoppable force – with a quickly growing community of mappers who are creating the richest, most detailed, global dataset that world has ever seen.

CloudMade’s developer tools make it easy for developers to build location based applications that harness that rich, detailed, global dataset.

This video, recorded at our London launch event tells you more about OpenStreetMap’s past, present and future:

Turning frustration into action

Just as OpenStreetMap grew out of Steve’s frustrations with the lack of maps for his area, CloudMade grew out of our frustration with the tools that were available for developers building location based applications.

As we talked to more and more people who were also building location based applications, we kept hearing the same things. The frustrations boiled down to these three things that we couldn’t do with online maps:

  • Customize the map for a specific application
  • Create rich, interactive user experiences
  • Use the same maps and mapping services on web and mobile

Beating Google Maps Fatigue

Lots of people we talked to were also getting fed up of the default Google map styles that most online applications use. We wanted to give developers more choice of map styles, so, under the direction of our Tech Lead and OpenCycleMap.org creator – Andy Allan, we set about creating three new styles.

"The Original" is ideally suited to general purpose web applications.

"The Original" is ideally suited to general purpose web applications.

"Fine Line" is a great style to use on mobile devices where its bold coloring and clear labeling make it ideally suited for devices with small screens.

"Fine Line" is a great style to use on mobile devices where its bold coloring and clear labeling make it ideally suited for devices with small screens.

Tourist" is the style to use in travel related applications like city guides, hotel lists or trip planners.

"Tourist" is the style to use in travel related applications like city guides, hotel lists or trip planners.

To give developers even more choice, we teamed up with Stamen Design to create these fantastic three styles:

"Fresh" is a great multipurpose web style that really draws out the richness of the map without overwhelming users.

"Fresh" is a great multipurpose web style that really draws out the richness of the map without overwhelming users.

"Pale Dawn" makes overlaid data, rather than the map itself, the feature.

"Pale Dawn" makes overlaid data, rather than the map itself, the feature.

"Midnight Commander" is a stunning map style that draws on themes of sci-fi and comic books to create a truly unique experience

"Midnight Commander" is a stunning map style that draws on themes of sci-fi and comic books to create a truly unique experience

We wanted to go even further than these six new map styles.  We wanted to allow you to customize the map to make it perfectly fit your brand.

Imagine the power of a map that is customized – both in the features it shows and in the way it represents them – to your application.  The Style Editor is an online tool that lets you create uniquely customized map styles.

This short video shows how you can use the Style Editor to create a map that communicates your brand and fits in perfectly with your application’s design.

You can find out more about how the Style Editor helps you create a unique map based experience over here.

Building Innovative Applications with CloudMade’s Tools

To help you get more out of map data, we’ve developed a set of core APIs that let you interact with a rich map database.  Just a few weeks ago, we gave some of our Alpha testing partners access to early versions of our APIs.  The applications they built range from social networks to real estate search to vehicle navigation to fleet and asset tracking.

To give you a taster of the kind of applications you can build with our APIs, here is a very quick summary.

Your Location History Online with MapMe.at

mapme.at

MapMe.at provides a beautifully customized experience for its users by using the Style Editor along with the Web Maps Lite Javascript library. You can find out more about MapMe.at here.

Turn-by-Turn Vehicle Navigation on a Mobile Phone

TrackMyJourney using CloudMade Routing APIs

TrackMyJourney users can now receive real time turn-by-turn navigation on their mobile phones.  This fantastic application uses CloudMade’s routing and custom image tile APIs to bring sat-nav style directions to mobile phones.  You can find out more here.

Find the Perfect Property with Where-Can-I-Live.com

Where Can I Live?

Search for your next property based on walking or cycling time and view the results on a clutter free map.  Where-can-i-live.com uses CloudMade’s pedestrian and cycle routing API along with customized maps created using the Style Editor and Nestoria‘s property price API to give their users a unique view of real estate.

A Flash Mapping API from Advanced Flash Components

Advanced Flash Components Routing and Geocoding Demo

Flash developers can access CloudMade’s powerful services in a familiar environment using Advanced Flash Components’ easy to use Flash mapping API. You can find out more details here.

Geographic Analysis Made Easy and Fun with GeoCommons

Geographic data analysis answers a lot of big questions about the world we live in.  Up to now it has been the preserve of highly trained professionals using expensive and complex software. GeoCommons are changing all of that.  Their easy to use online tools like Finder and Maker are bringing powerful geographic analysis to internet users everywhere.

Take a look at the screencast below to find out more about how GeoCommons used CloudMade’s Style Editor to enhance the experience of users of their leading products.

Commercial Fleet Tracking from Nutiteq

Commercial fleet tracking is big business and with GPS chips being rapidly integrated into phones and other consumer electronics, you can bet that consumer tracking is going to take off in 2009.  Nutiteq are at the fore-front of this exciting market, developing a range of end-user and SDK based solutions that let you build advanced tracking and fleet management applications across J2ME, iPhone and Android devices. They’ve been quick to integrate CloudMade’s customized tiles, routing and geocoding services into their APIs, making them the ideal choice for J2ME developers who want to build rich mobile applications without re-inventing the wheel.

Get Started Today!

If this has whetted your appetite for creating awesome location based applications, head over to our Developer Zone.  You’ll find code samples, step-by-step tutorials as well as more real-world examples of our APIs in action.  You’ll also find libraries in many popular programming languages including Ruby, Python, Java, J2ME, Flash and iPhone Objective-C, that will help you get up and running in no time. Find out more here.

February 16th, 2009 - Posted by Nick Black in api, customers, for developers, openstreetmap, products, talks |