Category: Mapping

Windows Live Local goes live

As the name suggests, Windows Live Local (the new name for MSN Virtual Earth) is now live. It has a fresh new look, mapping data for Europe (woohoo!), supports driving directions, custom pushpins and for a selection of US cities it has high quality “birds-eye” images. There have been some changes to the API in this version, full details of which are due to hit MSDN today.

New MSN APIs to debut Tuesday


At PDC on Tuesday (13th) Microsoft will unveil a new collection of APIs for it’s MSN services to be available from, these will include:-

  • MSN Search Web Services
  • MSN Messenger Activity API (already available here)
  • MSN Virtual Earth API

The last item is interesting. Firstly it sounds like this will be a “proper” documented API, rather than the jscript hacks currently available. Secondly it is being offered free for both commercial and non-commercial use. It is interesting therefore to see how it stacks up against it’s big brother Mappoint Web Service for simple commercial applications.

Speaking of which, the new version of Mappoint Web Service (4.0) will also be released at PDC. New features include support for polygons, some new map styles, and further extensions to the mapping coverage.

[Update] MWS 4.0 SDK is available:-

Developing with Virtual Earth

Now that the hype has died down on Virtual Earth it is interesting to see what developers are doing with the product even though it doesn’t expose any kind of developer API. The best place to start is at Dr Neil’s site Via Virtual Earth. There are a few articles here showing how to pull maps from virtual earth onto your own website. To a user outside the US the mapping detail available is a bit lacking, you get quite a selection of place names, but no roads and satellite imagery only at a very high level.

Hopefully the technologies demonstrated in Virtual Earth will permeate through to the Mappoint Web Service, as the dynamic pan and zoom, imagery and pushpin labels are quite impressive.

How They Beta Test Mappoint Products

Ever wondered how Microsoft test their location products? I mean it’s not like you can test them in every possible location. Well two guys in Great Britain are trying to come close by driving the length and breadth of Great Britain passing through key points as they go – They have already covered the furthest South, East and West already. You can track their progress on a special blog and win a copy of Autoroute with GPS receiver if you estimate their mileage.

Autoroute 2006 (European version of Streets & Trips) is due out in October, no details of features for the new release have been announced yet.

Proximity Search With SQL 2000

The “Implementing a Proximity Search with SQL 2000” article describes how to create a local method of searching for nearby places on your own locally held data. However it makes a couple of assumptions, one being that you will import your data via Access.

It’s quite likely that you may want to put your place data directly into SQL Server, you can then calculate the X, Y and Z co-ordinates using a stored proceedure. Firstly I’ll assume you place the data into a table in your SQL database with fieldnames Latitude and Longitude storing the values in decimal degrees as a float type. You’ll also need to add columns named XAxis, YAxis and ZAxis to your table, again with a float type. Then the following stored proceedure can be used to populate these fields.

UPDATE [tablename] SET XAxis = cos(RADIANS(Latitude)) * cos(RADIANS(Longitude)),
YAxis = cos(RADIANS(Latitude)) * sin(RADIANS(Longitude)),
ZAxis = sin(RADIANS(Latitude))

Note that the where clause ensures it doesn’t process rows you have already populated. You may choose to run this procedure manually when you add new data, or schedule it to run regularly. If your data is editable once it’s in the database, you should ensure the X,Y,Z values are removed if the Latitude and Longitude are changed on a record. Once you’ve run this on your data you can use the FindNearby procedure described in the article.