Live from Virtual Earth! Any questions?

I’m going to have lunch w/ member(s) of the Microsoft Virtual Earth team tomorrow. They just released a new version of their mapping control & local search service this week (highlights include more Birdseye images, polygon support, and MapCruncher layers). Since Dustin’s recent conversation w/ Yahoo went over well, I figured I’d extend the same courtesy and see if my fellow bloggers had any interesting questions they wanted to ask.

FYI – Due to NDA’s, I suspect they’ll be unable to answer the really interesting questions. However, don’t let that stop you from asking the question or giving a product suggestion. Since I’m talking to the program manager and/or software engineers that blog, I suspect they’ll appreciate the feedback, even if they can’t be completely forthcoming in their responses.

PS – Is anybody else waiting for them to combine the Vexel technology they recently accquired, Photosynth, Flight Simulator X, w/ Birds Eye images and give Google Earth a battle worthy of a level in Halo 3? Should be a ton of fun watching Master Chief battle the Covenant armies of Mt. View during the next year.

10 thoughts on “Live from Virtual Earth! Any questions?

  1. Robbie,

    1) I cant wait for Google or VE to allow the referencing of shapefiles. Polygon points are cute but my shapefile polygon of the Queen Ann neighborhood has 4000 points.

    2) I would love to get a statement on pricing I have talked to a bunch of different people and have not received a common answer.

    3) Because both Google and VE use the tiled layer method it is nearly impossible to get an image that is the exact upper left lower right lat long you requested. How is this going to be addressed? Without this ability it is impossible to try to overlay information on their maps.

    I have a ton of other questions but these are the top 3.

    Have fun at your meeting.

  2. using Standard.Disclaimer;

    Comments are combination of my thoughts & Steve Lombardi’s off the cuff remarks during our lunch time chat (and not an official response). No PR or marketing reps, just a software engineer & a program managers eating the fine fare served up by Eurest Dining Services and talking about the joys of digital mapping.

    1 & 3) Although, I know next to nothing about ESRI (other than they do expensive, powerful GIS software that doesn’t scale as well as the AJAX maps do), I think you’ll find the following blog postings interesting (if not helpful)

    I’m guessing a shape file that complex will bring a web browser based map application to it knees. Remember folks, there are reasons why Flight Simulator and Halo are written in DirectX/C++ instead of DHTML/Javascript. Until XAML or XUL change the rules again, I think we’re stuck with our current cross-browser/cross-platform limitations.

    However, I agree that MS needs to do a better job of geo-related information sharing with their Windows products (Streets & Trips, MapPoint), their web offerings (MapPoint Web Services, Virtual Earth), and third party formats (ESRI, GeoRSS, etc), and it’s not unreasonable to expect that things will be getting better in the near future. If for no other reason than Google Sketchup and Google Earth will force the issue. The new Arc2Earth stuff looks promising for this type of application though.

    2) Unfortunately, to be frank, I think MS is still trying to figure it out themselves and I share your frustration regarding the lack of clarity. I think the marketing folks are still living in 2001 (back when MapQuest was the 800lb Gorilla of web mapping) and trying to do what they do best (make money for the company by via licensing plans that are more complicated than they should be), while the engineers are more worried about mindshare and the combined threat of Google/Yahoo (and rightly so). Contact stevelom at microsoft dot com (PM of Virtual Earth) and he can get hooked up if you need a commercial license. Other dirt from other insiders include…

    Here’s what partner web sites quote for MapPoint Web Service prices.

    Given what Google & Yahoo are doing, I think web mapping is very quickly becoming like web e-mail (the market will only bare an inexpensive service, because the free versions are very good and are backed by companies that have the financial strength to battle MS for a LONG time), so I believe the 8 tiles = 1 transaction stuff you read isn’t indicative of what you’d really pay. Especially since there is currently no way for MS to track usage back to you since VE has no API key and there’s no audit trail!

    You could always get a deCarta Drill Down Server when you hit the big time and are truly paranoid what MS, Yahoo or Google might start charging or adding to their maps.

    BTW – I got to visit the “weapons center

  3. Hey Robbie,

    Thanks for the info.

    The unlocked power is in the shapefiles once that can be accessed the whole game will change.

    We are about to launch our neighborhood product which is all GIS web based. Real Estate is down to the neighborhood now not the city, county or zip. The bubble in a city may pop but a neighborhood could continue to be going strong.

  4. Robbie,

    We create custom shapefiles for our different projects. We also use goverment data for things like roads, water and some boundery files.

    Goverment and Real Estate agents dont think much alike 🙂

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