So where should I start, well MSFT has decided to surprise us with another big day of releases. It’s awesome, yet a bit overwhelming, every time I think I’m about to get a handle on all the new things they come out with they release a bunch of new features and functionalities.
Microsoft announced that Bing Maps will be the default map control in the Windows 7 SDK, not that big of a surprise but the new licensing Microsoft has for mobile devices is. Apparently if you create a consumer facing mobile application there is no charge to use Bing Maps. In order to take advantage of this you have to select “Mobile” as the development platform when creating your Bing Maps key. Be sure to read the terms & conditions for full details.
Bing REST service improvements
There have been new things added to the Bing Maps REST web services recently as announced here. Note that if your already using the REST services there will likely be some new classes that you will need to regenerate from the XSD scheme in order to serialize the new data. Here is a quick over view of what has been added.
This new feature allows you to calculate the routes from nearby highways and major roads to a location. According to the documentation it try’s to first calculate routes in all four directions but if routes can not be found from all these directions multiple routes from one direction may be provided. By default detailed turn by turn directions are returned but you can also have just the starting points returned.
Show a Route on a Static MapThe REST services now have the ability to render a static map image with a route drawn on it. This is one of my favorite new features that have been released. When the Bing Maps Web services where first released we had the ability to generate static images with pushpins and major routes drawn on them but not your standard routes. Up until now you had to use the method I put together to get around this issue. If this is new feature is not cool enough for you it gets better, you can request a zoomed in image on at a specific coordinate and see a section of the route. By combining this functionality with the ability to draw a pushpin on the map image you can now easily generate turn by turn map images. This is something that people have been requesting for a while. There wasn’t an example of the zoomed in route with a turning point pushpin so here is an example of how to generate such an image:http://dev.virtualearth.net/REST/v1/Imagery/Map/Road/47.67856,-122.131/14/Routes?wp.0=Seattle WA&wp.1=Redmond WA&pp=47.67856,-122.135;22;9&key=BingMapsKey
The REST service now lets you avoid or minimize tolls and highways when generating a route. This has been a commonly requested feature and the only ay to do this before now was to implement a somewhat hit or miss work around. I’m interested in trying this out in my taxi fare calculator. Maybe I’ll add this in a future update in case people want to take the scenic route by taxi.
Another new feature in the REST services which will likely get overlooked by many initially (especially with all the other features coming out) is the capability to specify an entityType parameter. Basically if you are doing a reverse geocode on a coordinate you can specify the level of information you want back, i.e. address, neighborhood, country/region. This might seem pretty minor but I’ve seen a rather large number of people on the Bing maps forums asking how to parse the reverse geocode result to get these specific parameters. This should hopefully make this process much more straight forward.
In other Bing Maps related new there has been some advancement on the Bing Maps App front. Apparently thousands of people have downloaded the SDK and one of the most frequent comments has been around issues with debugging. I can attest to this as I now add additional time to all my Bing Map App estimates just because of the extra steps involved to run and test a map app. I might have to do that anymore, the Bing team has added one click (aka F5) debugging functionality to the API. Dan Polivy from the Bing Maps team talks about this new functionality here.
Apparently HP has this new printer that connects to the internet and now will let you load a map and print it without having to use a computer. You can even specify your route points and it will draw your route on the map for you with directions! Pretty cool functionality.
King of Bing Maps News
If this has not been enough Bing Maps related news for you here is a photo of me with the crown MSFT sent me. I also received a bunch of free swag which I plan to give out at one of our upcoming Bing Maps UK user group meetings.