The Bing Maps V7 AJAX control was released in November 2010. Since then it has received a number of features and updates made to this control.
Redesigned from the ground up
The map control itself has gone through a complete redesign from the ground up. The predecessor to this map control, V6.3 was over 250KB in size when compressed whereas the V7 control is only 35KB when compressed. How did they do it you ask? The answer is “Modular Design”. Many of the built in features in V6.3 were only used in handful of applications. For instance routing is a feature that is most often used in store locator type applications, however many data visualization applications have no need for routing but regardless the code needed to implement the routing functionality in the V6.3 control was always downloaded. With the V7 AJAX control a Directions Module can be loaded on demand making it some only the applications that need this feature actually have to download it. Taking it a step further it’s also possible to delay the loading of this module until the user actually makes a request to get directions. Most modules can be loaded in using only one or two lines code. As a result of this modular design the V7 AJAX control loads much faster than its predecessor which in turns allows the web page that is using it to load faster as well. The Bing Maps team has made many great features available to the Bing Maps v7 control using modules. But that’s not all, this new modular design has inspired the Bing Maps developer community resulting in many community created modules being made available as well. This resulted in the Bing Maps V7 Modules CodePlex project being created.
The V7 map control is by far the fastest AJAX based Bing Maps control. An independent study performed by Microsoft Partner Earthware, found that the V7 AJAX control is capable of rendering 1000 pushpins 9 times faster in IE8 than the V6.3 map control. Needless to say the faster the map is at rendering data the more fluid the user experience. You can read their full performance test report here.
When the V7 AJAX control was being designed the developers took mobile into consideration and made use of HTML5 where possible to ensure a fluid user experience regardless of the browser being used. As a result this map control not only supports many standard web browsers but is also supported on many mobile browsers as well. As a result we have seen many developers use this map control to create cross platform mapping applications. Some of these applications are web pages while others are full blown native applications.
Often the web based applications detect if the user is accessing the site using a mobile device and if so a different style sheet for the layout is used to make for a better user experience on smaller screens, however all the code being used for the mapping application remains the same. This allows one code base to be used not only for several mobile platforms, but for standard browsers as well.
Needless to say using either of these approaches requires a lot less development time when targeting multiple platforms. This in turn means a lot less money is spent on development. In many cases this also allows developers to target more platforms than they may have originally planned for thus making the application available to more users.
Taking cross platform development a step further one of the Windows 8 Bing Maps Metro API’s is built on top of the V7 AJAX control thus allowing you to reuse a lot of your code to create a Windows 8 application as well.
You can find a full list of supported browsers here.
Venue maps were introduced the Bing Maps V7 control in June of 2011.These allow you to overlay an interactive floor plan of a venue directly on Bing Maps. The most common venue map is shopping malls, however there are also great venue maps of airports, shopping districts, universities, and amusement parks to name a few. Currently there are over 2,750 venues in 27 countries available in Bing Maps. As an added bonus, since this module works in all the same browsers as the Bing Maps V7 AJAX control, not only can you access venue maps from standard web browsers, but from mobile browsers as well.
Currently Bing Maps has traffic data in 30 countries around the world. Using the Traffic module you can easily render real time traffic flow directly on the map. When you are zoomed out the traffic flow data for major roads will be displayed. As you zoom in more detailed traffic data becomes available for smaller roads. You can also pull in traffic incident data using the Bing Maps Traffic REST service. This is great if you want to be able to visualize individual traffic issues on the map. List of where we have traffic coverage can be found here.
Advance Shape Support
One feature that is often requested is the support for Polygons with holes. To some this might seem like an odd request but in reality there are many cases when this type of shape is needed. Take for example country boarders, in many cases there are not simple shapes. South Africa for example has another country within its exterior boundary called Lesotho. In this case a polygon with a hole is needed.
Developing with Bing Maps V7
The full MSDN documentation for the V7 AJAX control can be found here. You can also use the Interactive SDK available here to see how to implement various features and test them out without having to write any code. If you are currently using the Bing Maps V6.3 control and want to upgrade to the V7 control you can find documentation here.