In this post we’ll discuss the various types of DISPLAY_REQUEST – place, search, and directions requests.
Both place requests and search requests consist of their keyword followed by a slash and the description of the request:
While both types are asking for map locations, place requests look for a single location while search requests look for all matching locations. As an example from my testing:
centered the map just south-west of the Fort Pitt Tunnel and displayed numerous markers for area hotels. However,
zoomed in on and marked only the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Green Tree. Changing ‘hotels’ to ‘hotel’ does not change the results. I am not sure what criteria Maps uses to determine which potentially matching location is returned.
If a search is performed for a very specific location, Maps will normally return the result as if the place keyword had been used instead (and will update the displayed URL accordingly). If a generic search term is used such as ‘hotel’, ‘restaurant’, etc., Maps will conduct its search in/near the place specified in the search or place description, or if no search location is specified it will use the default map area. Maps does not appear to distinguish between terms like ‘near’, ‘in’, ‘by’, and the like (and they can be omitted without effect). Compass directions will be treated not as directions but as place names, so asking for ‘hotels+West+of+Pittsburgh’ is likely instead to find hotels near West Homestead in the Pittsburgh area (as in my test).
Some of the common place description types are:
Almost any term that works as a place description can be used as the place for a search (whether with the search or place keywords). However, latitude/longitude places did not work as searches in my testing; they needed to be specified in the MAP_POSITION element instead.
Unlike search and place requests, a directions request is followed by multiple terms – an origin and destination at a minimum, and potentially other intermediate estops as well:
The ORIGIN, DESTINATION, and intermediate stops can be anything that would work as a place description for a place or search request. Additionally, as long as Maps can identify either the ORIGIN or DESTINATION as a specific place, it will be very aggressive in interpreting any other specified stops:
The Maps interface will only allow you to enter ten stops (starting point, eight intermediate stops, and destination), but you can successfully enter up to 24 stops via the URL. However, unless you have a tall monitor you will probably not be able to access the details without using the ‘/am=t’ option. Adding a 25th stop will return directions, but in my testing the map itself would not load. With 26 or more stops no directions are returned and a default map is displayed.