Yahoo has a major update to Yahoo Maps this evening, bringing it back on par with Google Maps, and with a full set of web APIs for building mapping applications.
From the Yahoo Maps API overview:
Building Block Components
Several Yahoo! APIs help you create a powerful and useful Yahoo! Maps mashups. Use these together with the Yahoo! Maps APIs to enhance the user experience.
- Geocoding API – Pass in location data by address and receive geocoded (encoded with latitude-longitude) responses.
- Map Image API – Stitch map images together to build your own maps for usage in custom applications, including mobile and offline use.
- Traffic APIs – Build applications that take dynamic traffic report data to help you plan optimal routes and keep on top of your commute using either our REST API or Dynamic RSS Feed.
- Local Search APIs – Query against the Yahoo! Local service, which now returns longitude-latitude with every search result for easy plotting on a map. Also new is the inclusion of ratings from Yahoo! users for each establishment to give added context.
They also spell out their free service restrictions:
The Simple API that displays your map data on the Yahoo! Maps site has no rate limit, thought it is limited to non-commercial use. The Yahoo! Maps Embeddedable APIs (the Flash and AJAX APIs are limited to 50,000 queries per IP per day and to non-commercial use. See the specific terms attached to each API for that API’s rate limit. See information on rate limiting.
This restriction is more interesting:
Sensor-Based Location Limit
You may use location data derived from GPS or other location sensing devices in connection with the Yahoo! Maps APIs, provided that such location data is not based on real-time (i.e., less than 6 hours) GPS or any other real-time location sensing device, the GPS or location sensing device that derives the location data cannot automatically (i.e. without human intervention) provide the end user’s location, and any such location data must be uploaded by an end-user (and not you) to the Yahoo! Maps APIs.
So uploading a track log after running or hiking is OK, but doing a live GPS ping from your notebook, PDA, or cell phone to show where you are isn’t? I think this is intended to exclude traffic and fleet tracking applications, but it seems to include geocoded blog maps by accident. I don’t think they’d actually mind that.
There are several sample applications to look at. The events map seems nicely done, pulling up locations, images, and events for venues within the search window.
To display appropriate images for events, local event output was sent into the Term Extraction API, then the term vector was given to the Image Search API. The results are often incredibly accurate.
I’ve been meaning to take a look at the Term Extraction service, it looks like it might be a handy tool for building some quick-and-dirty personal meme engines or other filters for wrangling down my ever growing list of feeds.
Announcement at Yahoo Search Blog
More from TechCrunch, Jeremy Zawodny, Chad Dickerson