MapQuest System Architecture

By MapQuest Staff

MapQuest Technical Overview Developers can use MapQuest Advantage enterprise-class products in the following ways:
  • Web applications
  • Wireless WAP
  • Desktop applications
  • Back-end enterprise systems
Deploy all the servers at the customer site using Advantage Enterprise or use the hosted service Advantage API.

The API interface typically takes the form of MapQuest-provided libraries that link with a custom application or a shared library plug-in for a Web server.Client applications can be developed with C++, Visual Basic, Java, ASP, ADP and other supported environments. Applications will invoke the MapQuest API to communicate with a MapQuest server and to read/write MapQuest data structures.

The MapQuest client interface (invoked by the client application using the MapQuest API) communicates to one or more MapQuest servers to provide the core MapQuest functionality: mapping, geocoding, routing, and proximity searching.All client-server communication uses a proprietary protocol based on the industry standard protocol HTTP with additional authentication and/or data stream encryption.

The results of a client-server request are returned to the MapQuest client interface libraries and in turn returned to the client application using the MapQuest API.The application would then display results to users using its standard user interface: HTML for a Web application or standard desktop/Java APIs for non-Web applications.

One or more MapQuest servers provides the core MapQuest features with the help of one or more databases, and possibly one or more "session servers" that improve mapping performance. MapQuest Advantage Enterprise customers manage and control their own MapQuest server, which can be on the public Internet or behind a corporate firewall. MapQuest Advantage API customers don't run their own MapQuest server because the Advantage API servers play this role to clients anywhere on the Internet.

Although most non-Web applications directly request information and images from the MapQuest server, Web applications work slightly differently.Web applications display images indirectly by exposing HTML IMG tags within HTML code and letting the browser request the image.
Web applications don't need to cache map images locally because the Web application never actually downloads the images.Instead, the Web application uses the MapQuest API to request an "image URL" from the MapQuest server and exposes it in HTML within an IMG tag.When a user's Web browser wants to display the image, it requests it from the MapQuest server.Compatibility with standard Web browsers is easy because the image URLs (like all MapQuest client-server requests) use a protocol based on HTTP, the universal standard of the World Wide Web.


System Architecture Diagram- Click for larger view

Database Integration and Database APIs
All MapQuest Advantage Enterprise and API customers can use custom SQL WHERE clauses to limit database queries. Use database connectivity to:

  • Find and/or display locations within a specified radius.
  • Find and/or display locations within a specified rectangle.
  • Find and/or display locations within a specified polygon.
  • Find and/or display locations around a path, such as a route (suggested driving directions).
  • Search with a simple database record MapQuest API, new in version 3.0.You can even access non-MapQuest-specific database fields.
  • Integrate location data sets with other corporate databases.For instance, an application could filter bookstore proximity search results based on book availability determined through dynamic database searches.
Advantage Enterprise customers can access unlimited databases, unlimited custom locations, and unlimited database record fields. Advantage API customers can access unlimited custom locations with up to 100 database fields, for the standard API deployment, in MapQuest-hosted databases.

Mapping, Routing, and Geocoding Data
MapQuest' partners with top tier data vendors for providing geographic content.Customers of MapQuest Advantage Enterprise and API have the following data options for empowering their applications:

  • Navigation Technologies (NAVTEQ)
  • Geographic Data Technology (GDT)
  • DMTI Spatial
  • AND Data Solutions
  • Ascential
  • Tele Atlas - MapQuest Advantage Enterprise only
  • Group 1
  • MapQuest Mapping Services
Server Operating System and CPU Requirements

Database Requirements
Advantage Enterprise customers use a database server with an Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) driver to store location data for custom map icons and proximity searches.ODBC is a standard interface for sharing data between databases and other programs. ODBC-compliant databases include MySQL, Sybase, Access, Oracle, Informix, and SQL Server.

Advantage API customers do not need a database server because MapQuest hosts the location data.Users can upload new location data or modify it with a suite of Web applications called the MapQuest FastUpdate™ system.Advantage API users can access virtually unlimited custom locations with up to 100 fields in MapQuest-hosted databases.

Utility Application Requirements
Customers can use utility applications provided with the products to customize some parts of the product.For example, preparing icons, edit map style files, or create "spatial IDs" to increase performance of proximity searches.These tools require a computer running Windows 98 or newer.

Client Requirements
To connect with the server, you will also need at least one "client" system that connects with MapQuest servers (including Advantage API servers).The MapQuest client software may run on the same computer as the server, although not recommended for highest performance.For a typical Web application, the Web server would be the MapQuest client.To compile and link code with MapQuest client programming interfaces, you must have development tools compatible with at least one of the following interfaces:


* Similar versions may be supported.For the latest compatibility information, contact MapQuest.

For additional details on MapQuest Advantage Enterprise and MapQuest Advantage API, please call MapQuest at 1-888-627-7837 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Published Saturday, March 27th, 2004

Written by MapQuest Staff



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