Chuck Freedman | Director, Vertical Insights
November 16, 2012

TomTom Platform Launch Features an Impressive API Welcome Mat


Mapping, geo-location and location-based services (LBS) have been at the center of platform activity since web APIs began emerging over 7 years ago.  Launching maps APIs at Yahoo! in 2005, and then writing a book about them the following year, it was clear to me that mapping was the gateway for a generation of developers integrating more than one API. Photos, weather, job openings, store locations and restaurant ratings were some of the early complimenting map-driven apps and websites.

Location data has remained one of the most valuable commodities in application development, and relying on maps and geo-location services is at the core of so many mobile apps, sites and services. With their recent launch, TomTom not only maintains their position as a leader in the space, they’ve also set the bar extremely high with an impeccable site offering their APIs to partners and developers.

The reality for TomTom, and a majority of platforms launching with valuable data and services APIs, is strategic focus must be placed on the website hosting the API.

TomTom’s well-designed site acts as it should, positioning their platform as a product and offering their data and services APIs as valuable tools for partners and developers. TomTom literally refers to their APIs as their product, and you will appropriately find details about their APIs through the “Products” tab.

The site offers managed access to the API, meaning interested partners and developers can request and get relatively instant access to the data. A managed access flow ensures TomTom maintains a handle on who is using their data, with an important ability to charge for access after trial use of the API and as usage grows. Being a Mashery-made API site, over 175,000 developers already have a passport to getting a key and start coding with TomTom.

Among valuable resources available to developers, TomTom offers interactive documentation each API giving actual live data to test and develop with.

Accompanying the well-documented REST APIs is an exceptional gem: native Software Development Kits (SDK) for iOS and Android mobile developers, as well as a JavaScript SDK for web developers. These SDKs are more than a gift to active and would-be developers. They provide pre-coded implementation of the APIs in the context of popular mobile app languages. This effort on behalf of the TomTom team will increase adoption and integration of the API into existing apps.

Supporting an API community is one of the most effective ways to guarantee adoption and maintain the value of your platform. TomTom’s recent launch features a well-stocked hat trick of support features.

FAQs aim to answer developer questions before they are asked, ensuring coders don’t miss a beat when integrating TomTom’s location services. The Forum allows exchange of tips, examples and inquires between the developer community and TomTom’s own developer support team. Exchanges here are also available for all to see, saving time from having to wait to get help on development. Finally, with a contact form, TomTom invites you to reach out to them directly for support.

With the right tools available, it is no longer a hurdle for companies to launch with an API site that extends the value of their platform. The more successful platform companies can always point to a strong API site presence at the core of their platform strategy and partner/developer engagement.

When understanding how to do it right, look closely at TomTom as they build success with their “Product”: APIs & SDKs.