Yahoo Hacks Maps

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Local search will benefit most from the upgrades Yahoo has made to its mapping service, and developers get some new APIs to use to develop their applications.

Yahoo put up the latest news about Yahoo Maps on its Search Blog, and they’ve made some major changes to the service. For one, they’ve added “click and drag,” a useful feature sorely missing when comparing the service to Google’s.

By clicking on the map, a smaller overview map appears at the top right. The overview contains a slider to let users zoom in or out of the current view on the big map.

The shaded area on the little map helps you see where the area you’re viewing relates to the rest of the map. It can be closed with a click or dragged elsewhere on the big map. As Yahoo puts it in their blog, “We’ve got your Flash and Ajax here.”

Engineers have made the product much more compelling for local users. While Yahoo has had point to point driving directions available, now users can get point to point to point, or more, all on one map.

There is tighter integration of Yahoo’s Local services with Yahoo Maps. That’s to help take better advantage of local advertising, the big growth area for search. And there’s more, as the product managers posted:

In addition to the major features, we added a lot of small touches, including address auto-complete from your Yahoo! Address Book, using your home area or most recently used address to start, and the mini-map and left panel, which can be hidden when you want to focus on just the map. Oh, and the maps are easy to bookmark too. There’s no URL obfuscation.

For developers, the Maps Simple API will let them quickly whip up an application with just a text editor. The more adventurous get some Flash and Ajax APIs to help develop apps; Macromedia Flex developers get an API that works with their Presentation Server Technology.

Four Building Block APIs allow developers to include geocoding, traffic data, local search, and map images for custom applications. Yahoo includes some sample applications to demonstrate the APIs.

One sample integrates the company’s recent purchase of event announcement site Upcoming.org to show event locations along with local bars, restaurants, traffic, and ATMs.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

Yahoo Hacks Maps
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