Web Services

A web service is a technique used to request, communicate, and transmit information from one location (a server or series of servers) to any device with internet access. Web services are modular in nature and utilize standard programming languages and protocols. They have grown in popularity over the past several years because they allow a company to share their content and services with external parties, without exposing proprietary software algorithms or granting access to IT systems that reside behind the company's firewall.

Web services are frequently accessed by internet and mobile applications. To utilize the web service, the application makes a "request" by passing a pre-defined set of information over the internet to a specified internet address. This information typically includes a web service key, which is akin to a password that validates that the application is authorized to access the content and services being requested, as well as a series of parameters that define the exact nature of the request. Once the request has been authenticated (by confirming the key) and the request parameters interpreted, the results are fetched and returned to the requester via the internet

Below is a brief description of the web services offered through TomTom's Map Toolkit API key.


TomTom's global digital map content comprises a large volume of data, and to efficiently transmit map images for display over the internet to multiple users simultaneously, the data are divided in to gridded sections called tiles. The map data for each tile are then pre-rendered, meaning images of each map tile are generated, saved, and stored. The pre-rendered map images are rendered at 256 x 256 pixels and available at 19 different zoom levels, ranging from 0 to 18. For zoom level 0, the entire earth is displayed on one single tile, while at zoom level 18, the world is divided into 236 tiles, or 68,719,476,736 tiles in total. Each tile at this zoom level represents an area on the earth that is 153 meters by 153 meters in size.

When a user of our Maps service makes a web service request that specifies zoom level and tile location parameters, the pre-rendered map tile(s) for the specified request parameters is returned to the user. In addition to the map tiles, our Maps service can also render real time Traffic and Route images, which can be layered on top of the map image, adding additional information to be displayed to the end user.


TomTom's world class routing algorithms, which were originally designed for use on our Personal Navigation Devices, are now available through our Routing web service. When a user of this service enters a starting and ending location, the Routing service uses our geocoding, maps and historic and real time traffic information to calculate the best possible travel route between the starting and ending locations. The Routing service returns human readable turn-by-turn route instructions, the route distance and expected travel time, and a series of coordinates that represent the calculated route path. This information can delivered visually by using the using the Map web service to send Map tiles, Routing and Traffic information to be displayed to the end user.


TomTom continuously monitors travel conditions along roadways by analyzing data from millions of GPS-enabled devices that submit GPS measurements to our data centers in real time. We also receive detailed incident reports, such as accident, construction, and event locations, from authoritative sources. These data feeds allow us to create an accurate and detailed real-time view of travel speeds and incidents along the entire street network. Our Traffic Icons web service allows users to access this traffic information for a given area by specifying the area and zoom level. The returned information includes a detailed overview of traffic problems within the area, with updates available every 2 minutes.


Geocoding involves assigning real-world coordinates to non-spatial information, such as a destination street address. When a user submits an address to our Geocoding service, the various address components, including house number, street name, city, state, country, and/or zip code, are algorithmically matched to our map database features and attributes. When a match has been made, the best-fit coordinate (latitude and longitude) relative to the map database is calculated and returned to the user. TomTom's Geocoding service utilizes our high quality map database, which include over 156 million address points, thus yielding highly accurate geocoding results.

Reverse Geocoding

The past decade has seen an explosion of GPS-enabled devices, giving people the ability to determine their real-world coordinates (latitude and longitude) in real-time. Our Reverse Geocoding service takes real-world coordinates and algorithmically matches them to our map database features and attributes. Once matched, the address in our map database that is in the closest proximity to the input coordinates is returned to the user, or can be used by an application to estimate where a user is by interacting with a POI database.


Our Viewport web service is intended to be used in conjunction with our other web services. It returns descriptive information about the content and services that are returned to the user, such as the software version being used, whether or not further zoom levels are available, the version of the traffic model being used, and copyright information.


The Initialize web service works with the Viewport web service, providing the full text and icons for display of copyright information.

You can learn more about the web services offered through our Map Toolkit API by reading our online documentation or by making web calls through our interactive API Explorer