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One of my favourite new features added to the Maps API this year is the Elevation service in the Maps API v3. This was in part because I enjoyed playing with the launch demo far too much, but mostly because the service opened up opportunities for genuinely new and interesting applications that were not previously possible.

For this reason I am delighted to announce that we have now also added the Elevation service to the Maps API for Flash, providing our ActionScript developers with the same opportunities. And just for completeness, and to distract me yet further, we have ported the elevation profile demo to 100% Flash, with an added 3D twist (mouse over the profile graph to see it).

The Elevation service allows you to obtain elevation for individual points, or sample elevation at equally spaced intervals along a path, such as that generated by the Directions service. To get started using the new Elevation service, check out the documentation in the Maps API for Flash Developer Guide.

In addition to Elevation we have also added the MaxZoom service to Flash. This allows you to determine the highest zoom level at which Satellite imagery is available at a given location. One other change to note is that the we have also introduced the sensor parameter in the Maps API for Flash, which is mandatory for any application built against v1.19 of the Maps API for Flash or later.

For assistance using these new features, or to discuss any other aspect of using the Maps API for Flash, be sure to join the Google Maps API for Flash Google Group.

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Over the past three months I’ve had the privilege of working as an intern on the Google Maps API team here in Sydney. In that time, I’ve had the opportunity to implement draggable directions in the Maps API v3 - a feature highly sought after by developers. It has been a joy to watch this project grow from design musings to a launched feature.

Draggable directions allow a user to modify the route suggested by the Maps API to suit their tastes, for example to avoid traffic, or to modify stop overs on a long road trip. If you haven’t had a chance to play with draggable directions, I’d encourage you to try it below. The API implementation closely follows that on Google Maps; existing markers can be dragged around the map, and moving your mouse near the path allows you to click and drag a new point.

The API makes it easy to turn an ordinary directions path into a draggable route. The DirectionsRenderer now has a draggable option, which when true causes paths to be draggable when rendered. Paths are not draggable by default, so existing v3 applications will remain unchanged. API developers can be notified of changes to a path by listening to the directions_changed event on a DirectionsRenderer. This makes it easy to implement additional features like the Undo button above. For more information, check out the Documentation.

We hope that you and your users enjoy experimenting with draggable directions as much as I enjoyed implementing them. I’d encourage you to start creating your own applications with draggable directions; when you’re done, post a link to your experiments in the Maps API v3 Google Group. We’ll keep an eye out for the most fun and innovative ideas, and add them to our Demo Gallery.

Once again, I’d like to thank the Google Maps API team for all their help, from getting this project off the ground, to making an American intern feel at home in a new country.

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We’ve just launched Tripline (http://www.tripline.net), and we’re excited to talk about how we’re using Google Maps. We’ve been laboring for months in solitude, so it feels great to finally talk about what we’ve built.

Tripline is all about maps. The Tripline concept goes back to 2005 when I started manually creating map-based plans to visualize upcoming trips. I’m one of those people who can stare at the moving map on an airplane for the duration of a long flight, so my desire to understand travel from a geographical viewpoint is inherent, and I think quite common. And, as we so often see in movies, a moving line on a map is a great way to tell a story.

The Tripline Player uses the Google Maps API for Flash and animates progression from point to point using a simplified KML-like data structure. We chose Flash primarily because it was the best platform to combine the maps, animation, and soundtrack elements that were part of the design. It also means that trips are shareable, as you can see from the example embedded above. We chose the terrain view because we think it best conveys the feeling of an adventurous journey. One of my favorite things to do is to press play, enter full screen mode and just sit back and watch a story unfold. The Google Maps API for Flash helps make that experience smooth and beautiful. It’s essential to our product.

The player represents the end-product of a created trip, but what about the creation process itself? Our goal was to make trip-creation as simple and flexible as typing a bullet list, and we spent a lot of time working towards that goal. We’re using many different Maps API components in our trip editor, including geodesic polylines, custom markers and custom infowindows. To add places, we’re using the Google AJAX Search API and the Geocoder API, and for trip thumbnails, we’re using the Google Static Maps API.

Speed and reliability are also essential. Users will forgive a lack of features and even bad design, but if your application is slow, you’re dead. The Google Maps APIs are always on and always fast, which is something that very few services can guarantee. That's one of the key reasons why we use Google services to support the core capabilities of our product. We’ve been live now for just under a month, and it’s been smooth sailing. We’re also hard at work on our next release, so stay tuned for more. Thanks Google.