March 7, 2006 8:21 AM PST

MapQuest offers open-source API

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MapQuest announced Tuesday that it plans to offer Web developers an open-source beta version of its mapping and routing technology.

MapQuest OpenAPI is the latest entry into the market of open-source mapping application programming interface, or API, technology. Google and Yahoo, for example, began offering outside developers their mapping APIs last June as a means to prompt them to develop programs with their technology.

The OpenAPI beta aims to give developers the ability to include its routing capabilities in the programs they create. For example, a developer creating a program that displays all Napa Valley wineries on a single map could combine, or "mash up," that feature with driving directions to specific vineyards, based on a person's taste preference.

"OpenAPI represents our initial step to provide developers with a simple way to access all the core tools, routing included, necessary to create truly useful mashups," Jim Greiner, vice president and general manager of MapQuest, said in a statement.

MapQuest also announced that it has launched an OpenAPI Developers Challenge contest, which offers a cash prize to the developer who designs the most creative mashup using OpenAPI. The contest, which runs through March 31, offers a $1,000 award and trip to the Where 2.0 Conference in San Jose, Calif., in June.

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