Archives for Chip Diffendaffer

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  1. MapQuest is headquartered in Colorado – so most of us love the great outdoors.  We know you do too, considering it’s one of the most-searched categories on MapQuest.com and has been for years!  This sparked an idea: Why not make it easier for you to get the information you want and need with new videos, photos, and guide content?  MapQuest National Parks, located at parks.mapquest.com, is a great jumping off point for your next adventure to one of the country’s 58 national parks.

    MapQuest National Parks

    The content in MapQuest National Parks not only helps travelers as they plan their upcoming trip, but it’s also inspiration for the excursions on your bucket list.  Take a sec to explore all the incredible vistas, stunning natural features and incredibly preserved history that inspired us as we created this project.

    Part of what makes this site unique is the videos featuring park rangers from the actual parks themselves.  No one knows Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon or any of these other amazing destinations better than the rangers that live and breathe it everyday.  The site also features breathtaking outdoor photography by QT Luong, a world-renowned nature and adventure photographer.

    Whether you’re checking the parks out for free during National Parks Week (April 21-29) or you’re scheduling a summer full of weekend trips to these great natural features, we hope this new tool helps inspire your national parks journey!

  2. Next time you are flying Southwest Airlines on a WiFi-enabled flight, be sure to check out the new flight tracker, built and powered by MapQuest, in the Southwest Airlines In-Flight Broadband Entertainment Portal.

    Southwest Airlines Flight Tracker - OKC to Denver shortly after takeoff

    After visiting my family in Oklahoma over the holidays, I took these screenshots on my flight back to Denver. This screen was taken shortly after the flight departed OKC and the attendant announced it was safe to use approved portable electronic devices.

    As you fly, the flight tracker updates with your current location, ground speed and altitude as well as your estimated arrival time, distance remaining and time remaining.

    The flight tracker allows you to zoom and pan to explore the map and discover more about cities and destinations Southwest Airlines serves.  You can also view the current weather conditions and forecast for your destination city.

    Southwest Airlines Flight Tracker - Weather in Denver

    Beautiful weather expected for Denver for the rest of the week

    Southwest Airlines - Aspen Travel Guide

    Clicking a pin on the map brings up the travel guide for that location

    Southwest Airlines Flight Tracker - 157 miles to go

    Cruising at 434mph at 35,996 feet with 157 miles to go

    For more information about Southwest Airlines In-Flight Broadband Entertainment Portal, visit http://www.southwest.com/wifi/.

    Happy flying and safe travels!

  3. The 4th of July weekend is always full of events in cities and towns around the country.  From parades to community barbecues to firework displays, there’s no shortage of things to do and see.  With Map Builder, it’s easy to create a map of events and activities to help your fellow Americans explore and decide what to do.

    To create your own custom map, simply go to Map Builder and add the locations for your events and activities. Make it a personal map by adding comments or helpful hints. From there, you can easily share with your friends and family on your blog, website or even your local newspaper.

    Here’s one we created for the Denver area:

    Fireworks Icon

    Need a graphic to use as a fireworks map pin? Use ours!

    Creating a parade route is easy as well.  Just choose the line tool in the drawing panel and trace the path the parade follows. We traced the Philadelphia Independence Day Parade route below.

    We’ve created a few maps of 4th of July events ourselves that we’re happy to let you use as well! Choose a city below to check out the map and copy and paste the provided code to include the map on your site!

    Stay tuned for more features and news on Map Builder and have a safe and happy Independence Day weekend!

  4. Creating robust maps for your business, your blog, or your website just became easier with MapQuest Map Builder Beta!

    MapQuest Map Builder enables you to create custom interactive maps quickly and easily.  Create a map for your business using your logo as the map pin and allow customers to get driving directions to your business.  Create a map of your favorite local hotspots to share with your friends on your blog.  Create a map of local news stories, upcoming events, or your team’s weekend soccer tournament.

    Let’s take a quick look at MapQuest Map Builder Beta:  Add points to your map by dropping a pin directly on the map or by looking up location by address, name, or latitude and longitude.   You can customize each location you add to the map by providing your own title and description.  You can also change the design of the map pin on the map by choosing from our pin gallery or by linking to your own image!

    Map Builder lets you draw shapes, too!  Use the shape tools to draw lines, rectangles, ellipses, or your own custom polygons on the map.  You can even change the color, opacity and border of the shapes you put on the map.

    Once you are done, simply save your map and copy and paste the code into your website.  Map Builder creates both an interactive map and a map as a static image for you to use.   It’s that simple.

    Take a look at some tutorials and some of the sample maps we’ve created in Map Builder.

    If you are a WordPress user, you can install the Map Builder for WordPress plug-in.  When you create maps with the plug-in, the maps insert directly into your post or page.

    As always, we appreciate hearing feedback from our users.  And, stay tuned for more features for MapQuest Map Builder in the future!

  5. Last August, we launched a new MapQuest.com Beta that upgraded our classic home page. We added a map with traffic, gas prices and weather data as well as upgraded our forms to include a copy and paste option that let you paste an entire address into one field for maps and directions.

    This morning, that Beta home page became the new home page at MapQuest.com.

    We took several suggestions from you, our users, to make further improvements. For example, we added tabs to the form area that allows you to quickly switch between the map and directions forms. We also went “fullscreen” and made the map bigger-making it easier to view and utilize.

    Tabbed Form on MapQuest Home Page

    Keep your eye on our new scrolling “ticker” at the top of the page and the “What’s New” tab on the home page for announcements of more new and improved features from MapQuest in 2009!

    If you would like to learn more, read our feature page discussing the latest round of updates. As always, we welcome your feedback!

  6. For many, the end of the year presents an opportunity to reflect on everything that the year has brought. Let’s take a moment to see some of our key accomplishments in 2008.

    We completed an amazing amount of work behind the scenes, but it’s the services we provide to our users that matter most in the end. So, in expedient fashion in order to move straight to planning for 2009, here’s our Top 8 in 2008 review:

    #8 – Fuel Cost for Trip Calculation

    Fuel Cost for Trip Calculation

    With gas prices spiking over the summer, many people were forced to evaluate just how much a trip might cost them. By entering your vehicle information in the settings for My MapQuest, we can help you estimate the cost of gas for a trip based on your vehicle’s miles per gallon and the local gas prices along your route.

    MapQuest on iPhone

    #7 – MapQuest on iPhone

    No doubt the iPhone is a popular gadget. You’ve always been able to access MapQuest.com from your iPhone but, we launched an iPhone-optimized site which automatically loads when you visit MapQuest.com from your iPhone. The site offers the iPhone flick and pinch gestures that so many love.

    #6 – Real-Time Traffic

    In March, we launched our real-time traffic feature. With coverage now in over 100 metro areas, you can view traffic flow, road closures, incidents, and construction to plan your drive. Traffic is even available on MapQuest for mobile web and our iPhone web version.

    #5 – Draggable Routes

    Our Draggable Routes feature launched in November and lets you drag your route to get you to your destination the way you want. Draggable routes lets you create directions around that stretch of highway you know is under construction, drive that scenic route along the highway, and drive through other parts of the city/state/country on your trip.

    MapQuest for Mobile on Blackberry Bold

    #4 – MapQuest 4 Mobile

    Getting maps and directions is easy from your computer. But,often times, you need to find places and get directions when you are out and about. MapQuest 4 Mobile, our new, free mobile application, makes that a snap on many BlackBerry devices and carriers.

    #3 – Saving Your Maps and Routes with My MapQuest

    How often do you plan your trip or route in advance? With the introduction of My MapQuest this November, you can now save your maps and directions and retrieve them anytime. You can even save the directions you’ve customized with draggable routes (see feature #5) for later use.

    #2 – MapQuest Local

    MapQuest Local

    MapQuest Local released with accolades in September. With loads of locally relevant content including news, movies, reviews, and much more bundled into a single page for a single location, Local is a great new online destination for finding what’s going on in your destination location.

    #1 – Brand Refresh

    Last but not least, we refreshed the MapQuest identity as a reflection of our site’s evolution. The logo was redrawn from scratch, to make it fresh & modern, yet familiar and instantly recognizable. Mark the Star The colors are sharper, the layout of MapQuest.com is cleaner and the brand is more vibrant and proud. It’s a design that stays true to what you said MapQuest means to you.

    We also re-introduced “Mark the Star,” a fun and friendly character who marks the locations you find on MapQuest. He’s been with us from the beginning, but he finally got a little polish, personality and an elevated status across the site.

    And of course, we can’t forget you. You’ve sent us your stories, your suggestions, your questions and corrections. A small group of you even worked closely with us weekly-sometimes daily- to provide your feedback and direction on our projects and concepts. Your feedback was crucial to the successful launch of all 8 products listed above. A heartfelt “thank you” from all of us at MapQuest.

    And now, onward to 2009!

  7. As Mark said, today’s launch of the MapQuest Beta is only the start of many exciting things to come from MapQuest. Let’s take a look at some of the areas in more detail.

    The Map

    Probably the most significant change to the Beta is the addition of a map to the home, map, and directions form pages. The map provides immediate access to key local information.

    The starting location of the map is based either on your personal settings or your current location. By default, it looks first for your home or work address in your MapQuest settings. However, if you choose to change the location using the link above the map (1), it will override all other defaults and we’ll remember that location the next time you visit MapQuest.

    You can easily print the mapped location, send the location to your cell phone or email, or generate a link to the mapped location with the buttons along the top (2). Enter a business name or category in the search nearby box (3), and we’ll search for places near the location specified.

    Just above the map, you’ll find the current weather conditions for the area (4). Click on the weather link to pop open more weather information including a forecast and even weather cameras, where available. On the map itself, click the gas prices button (5) to pull the latest information from our gas prices site to show you the highest and lowest prices in the area. The traffic button (6) activates live traffic conditions in over 85 cities, and find relative speed or flow, incidents, and construction.

    Local weather, traffic, and gas prices on the home page map are just a start. We will be introducing more local information in the future. What would you like to see on the map?

    The Forms

    We’ve also combined the forms for maps and directions on the home page. You can search for a business or enter an address to get a map in left half of the combined form. Getting directions is as easy as tabbing the keyboard or clicking the button to expose the form for the ending location.

    Your saved and recent locations are still quickly accessible in the drop-down and you can access a quick list of airports and search categories by clicking on the magnifying glass icon in the search field.

    Another key update to the forms is the introduction of the copy and paste address option. This alternative form style allows you to copy and paste addresses, even multi-line addresses, directly into the address box. You can easily switch between the new copy and paste forms and the classic forms by clicking the toggle link in the bottom left of the form box. Whichever form style you prefer, we will remember your preference throughout your visit and when you return.

    The Logo

    Did you notice our new logo? I’ll let our senior designer talk about the refreshed brand in the next post.

    Thanks to a lot of hard work from our team here at MapQuest, we’ll be making updates and releasing more new features very soon. So try out our Beta and, as always, be sure to tell us what you think.

    Have a great Labor Day weekend!

    Chip Diffendaffer
    Product Manager