An Introduction to Flash Maps for Interactive Mapping
Most of us have seen or used a Flash-based map on a website that allowed us to drill down by clicking on the map, with each "level" providing us with additional information. The term "flashmaps" is the term used to describe such a mapping application, and various companies provide developers with tools to create such flashmaps.
Google Maps API for Flash
Google Maps API for Flash was designed to enable Flex developers to embed Google Maps in Flash apps. Like many of the flashmap APIs we're looking at, the Google Maps API for Flash is an ActionScript API. It provides tools which allow developers to manipulate and add content to maps using various services. Using the Google Maps API you can embed a map within your application and enable users to zoom in or out, pan and move around within the map, just like you can when you search for an address in Google and are presented with a map. If you click on that map, you are taken to a flashmap that uses the Google Map API.
When you work with the Google Maps API, you actually have access to a whole family of APIs that includes:
MapQuest Flash Maps API Using AS3/Flex
The MapQuest Flash Maps API offers functionality that is very similar to the Google Maps API, including:
- reverse geocoding
Yahoo! Maps AS3 Component
Yahoo! Maps AS3 Component was recently upgraded from Yahoo!s AS2 version, and includes support for other Yahoo! APIs that provide geocoding, local search and traffic APIs. Like the other APIs we have discussed, the Yahoo! Maps AS3 Component requires you to sign up for an API key. Once you have the key, you can download the component and begin working with the sample applications
Yahoo! provides ample documentation to allow you to begin using the component within your Flash or Flex applications.
As you can see, there are plenty of options for working with flashmaps if you are interested in working with open source APIs. Many websites, including FoxNews, eBay, Adobe, Sprint and Verizon, have chosen to use the flashmaps provided by FlashMaps.com. They provide various tools and packages to fit each developer's own particular circumstances. In our next installment, we will look at FlashMaps.com and the extensive and flexible options they provide developers for Flash mapping applications.
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