Virtual Earth FAQ: | Via Virtual Earth

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Virtual Earth FAQ:

Q. What is the Virtual Earth platform?
A. The Virtual Earth platform encompasses the next evolution of the MapPoint Web Service offering with innovative new capabilities. The Virtual Earth platform is not only a new brand name; it represents a richer, more powerful offering from Microsoft to companies in all industries. Developers have the flexibility to tap into either of the two Virtual Earth application programming interfaces (API): MapPoint Web Service API using SOAP XML to communicate with customer applications or Virtual Earth Map Control, which lets users make request via JavaScript to an AJAX map object.

Q. What are the new imagery updates for Virtual Earth?
A. Twenty-eight new 3D cities were added, including: Tokyo, Japan Miami Beach, United States Edmonton, Canada Vannes, France Eighty-five cities with new high-resolution imagery were also added, including: Portland, OR, United States Acapulco, Mexico Jerusalem, Israel Five new countries supporting bird’s eye imagery were added. Cities in those countries include: Madrid, Spain Stockholm, Sweden Copenhagen, Denmark

Q. Where does Virtual Earth have rooftop geocoding?
A. Virtual Earth currently has rooftop geocoding in the United States and Japan.

Q. What percentage rooftop geocoding does Virtual Earth have?
A. Virtual Earth has 40% rooftop geocoding in the United States and 90% in Japan.

Q. Is Virtual Earth 6.0 backwards compatible?
A. Virtual Earth version 6.0 is backwards compatible only for version 5.0.

Q. When is deprecation of the old controls scheduled?
A. The Virtual Earth support team will be happy to help you upgrade to the latest version. If you have any questions or concerns, please visit the Via Virtual Earth Contact Us page and contact the Virtual Earth team.

Q. What is the maximum number of points for multipoint routing?
A. The recommended number is 50 points. Note that, regardless of the number of points, the time it takes to calculate the route is proportional to the total distance of the entire multipoint route.

Q. Does Virtual Earth support optimized routing?
A. No, in version 6.0, Virtual Earth routes in the order of the points.

Q. What version of Safari does Virtual Earth support?
A. Virtual Earth supports version 2 of Apple Safari.

Q. What coverage does Virtual Earth have for traffic overlay information?
A. Coverage includes traffic overlays for more than 50 major metropolitan areas in the United States.

Q. Why do I need a token?
A. This is a requirement for business customers for authentication and for SLA support and may be required for other users to receive certain features in the future.

Q. Is localization supported in multipoint routing?
A. Not at this time. This feature is planned for a future release.

Q. Does Virtual Earth support KML?
A. The consumer version of Virtual Earth on supports Keyhole Markup Language (KML) but is not supported through the API at this time.

Q. What kinds of information will commercial customers get in reports?
A. Reports will include transaction counts per day broken down by APIs for a given date range by day and by API.

Q. How do commercial customers access transaction reports?
A. Reports can be accessed through the CSS website.

Q. As a commercial customer, can I use Virtual Earth-3DVIA?
A. Currently, Virtual Earth-3DVIA is for consumers. A commercial version will be available at a future date that will be announced.

Q. Does Virtual Earth have incident data or construction data for traffic?
A. No, not in version 6.0.

Q. If I am an existing Microsoft MapPoint® Web Service (MWS) customer, can I use my MWS account to get a token for Virtual Earth?
A. Yes.

Q. How do I get a token or account for my company?
A. You can get a token by creating a Virtual Earth Platform Developer Account.

Q. If I am a mashup user, do I need a token?
A. No, just go to the Virtual Earth Interactive SDK.

Q. What do I need to do to use traffic?
A. Traffic data is only for the personal use of end users but if you are a company or organization, you will need to obtain a commercial license to include traffic.

Q. Will users be able to get directions through the mapping engine with the layered paths? For example, in the case of the zoo, if the developer were to overlay the zoo paths on the map tiles, will the engine be able plot the best path between two pushpins within the zoo?
A. No. MapCruncher generates a tile layer that matches the projection of our map themes, and then the map control enables displaying the tile layer overlaid on top. There is currently no feature that will enable importing of custom mapping data into the routing engine.

Q. Can I overlay other types of formats onto maps, such as a Word document or text file?
A. The input formats are .pdf and raster image file types that Microsoft Windows® Presentation Foundation supports (.gif, .jpg, .png, and such).

Q. Does MapCruncher support Safari?
A. The browser support is explicitly tied to the Virtual Earth map control. Browser support technically isn’t part of MapCruncher. However, the tiles generated are used as a tile layer in the Virtual Earth map control.

Q. What happened to the MapPoint Web Service? What is the difference between the Virtual Earth platform and MapPoint Web Service?
A. The Virtual Earth platform encompasses the next evolution of the MapPoint Web Service offering with innovative new capabilities. The Virtual Earth platform is not only a new brand name; it represents a richer, more powerful offering to companies of all industries. Developers have the flexibility of tapping into one of the two Virtual Earth application programming interfaces (API): MapPoint Web Service API using SOAP XML to communicate with customer applications and Virtual Earth Map Control that lets users make request via JavaScript to an AJAX map object.

Q. Will you continue to invest in MWS or force customers to migrate to VE?
A. Existing applications built using MapPoint Web Service API will continue to function as usual, without experiencing any changes or modifications to the service. We will continue providing high-quality support and service to all existing MapPoint Web Service customers. They may observe branding changes in the Virtual Earth platform in marketing collateral, websites and other customer-facing documentation. Customers who decide to keep their location application the same; will not need to do anything. If a customer has an application built with MapPoint Web Service APIs and would like to enhance it with new imagery and features available in Virtual Earth Map Control, Microsoft provides a set of developer tools and resources for doing so. Also, there customers may want to consider the Virtual Earth partners have built a variety of many traditional and innovative location-based applications that Virtual Earth partners have built to take your Web sites to the next level in mapping.

Q. What is the difference between the Virtual Earth platform and Windows Live Local?
A. The Virtual Earth platform powers a variety of consumer, enterprise and government applications. Windows Live Local, an online local search and mapping tool, is powered by Virtual Earth and enables people to learn, discover and explore a specific location. Virtual Earth represents a commitment by us to produce location-enabling platforms and technology that can be embedded and used with a wide range of enterprise, retail and web-based products delivered by us and the developer community. We will continue to enhance Virtual Earth and those improvements will be delivered through Windows Live Local as well as through the APIs.

Q. What benefits does the Virtual Earth platform provide customers?
A. The Virtual Earth platform provides customers with unique imagery, powerful mapping and search capabilities, a cost-effective investment, easy and flexible programming. The Virtual Earth platform license comes with a strong service level commitment and can be easily integrated with other Microsoft .NET-connected Web services.

Q. What type of applications benefit from the Virtual Earth platform?
A. The Virtual Earth platform is designed to enable a broad range of consumer, enterprise and government applications. All of the following examples use the same core technology allowing developers to easily deploy all of these applications throughout an organization.

  • Website Store Locators – One of the most widely used applications of the Virtual Earth platform is to enable store, facility or agency locators for websites. In addition to comprehensive mapping and geocoding capabilities the Virtual Earth platform provides an immersive and highly-visual map-based search. Bird’s eye imagery combined with drag-n-drop maps allows site visitors to search and visualize places before actually going there.
  • Information Portals – Dynamic map-based searches are becoming a must-have implementation for information portals. Virtual Earth enables companies to create new value-added services by integrating locally relevant information.
  • Travel Portals – By combining bird’s eye imagery and powerful mapping capabilities, companies can provide virtual tours and trip planning capabilities as part of their websites. The ability to layer extensive point of interest (POI) datasets, such as restaurants and hotels, and other content layers increases customer loyalty because they are able to find locally relevant information without leaving the travel portal’s site.
  • Mobile Location Services – Enterprises can enable consumers with connected mobile device and layer additional data to find movie theaters, stores, and other locations while consumers are mobile. The Virtual Earth platform can also deliver driving directions and aerial imagery to the consumers’ mobile device.
  • Call Center Applications – The Virtual Earth platform can be integrated into call routing mechanisms, so that incoming requests can be routed using location, such as sales territories. Further, service representatives can provide location-specific information, such as customers reporting dropped calls, to service groups that can analyze problems.
  • Fleet/Asset Tracking – The Virtual Earth platform is used to integrate high-quality routing and mapping into fleet tracking applications, such as monitoring delivery trucks or installers. The bird’s eye imagery enables delivery drivers to shorten the delivery time by visualizing destinations before arriving there. Enterprises also use Virtual Earth to create routes with as many as 50 stops.

Q. What are the most important services offered in the Virtual Earth platform?
A. Companies can use the Virtual Earth platform to take advantage of the following services:

  • Visualization Services: Companies can enable customers to visualize business or asset locations and surroundings via unique bird’s eye imagery and find locally relevant information quickly and easily.
  • Spatial Services: Companies can offer customers step-by-step driving direction, flexible geocoding and proximity searches.
  • Data Management Services: the Virtual Earth platform provides storage and batch geocoding of company’s points of interests (POI) data. Databases can be tailored with hundreds of searchable attributes.

Q. What is the bird’s eye imagery in the Virtual Earth platform?
A. This feature allows consumers to change from road or aerial view to a bird’s eye (45 degree) view of the map. Currently, this feature covers more than a quarter of United States including major cities such as New York, LA, San Francisco, and Boston. As with the road and aerial map styles, you can use the standard navigation methods for moving a bird’s eye image: you can click and drag the map, use the arrow keys on the keyboard, and use the PLUS SIGN (+) and HYPHEN (-) keys to zoom in and out. You can also click the zoom box to choose one of the two available zoom levels.

Q. What if my application does not require the use of any type of imagery at all?
A. The Virtual Earth platform provides a lot of flexibility and customization for your applications. You can choose to have dynamic “drag-n-drop” maps available through the Virtual Earth Map Control or over 30 specialty map styles available via MapPoint Web Service API.

Q. What is the current geographic coverage in Virtual Earth?
A. Please visit Geographic Coverage to find the most up-to-date coverage.

Q. How frequently is the data updated?
A. We are continually updating Virtual Earth with new imagery provided by our partners. Ensuring our customers have the best possible information from this new service is critical to us. We are not only working to update the existing aerial Imagery, we are also adding new data such as birds eye and global satellite imagery at 15 meters. We are confident that upcoming upgrades will continue to deliver a service that allows our customers to search locations like never before.

Q. When will Virtual Earth have other countries or regions? Are there any plans to add data for Asia?
A. We constantly evaluate potential geographic enhancements and business opportunities. Although we cannot comment on specifically countries, we intend to improve our existing geographic data and imagery and add new countries and regions.

Q. How do I evaluate the service?
A. Interested developers can download the Virtual Earth Map Control SDK and MapPoint Web Service Software Developers Kit (SDK) and request an evaluation account and try the services out subject to the developer Terms of Use.

Q. How do I purchase the Virtual Earth services?
A. Customers purchase the Virtual Earth services as an annual subscription. There are two primary licensing models:

  • Per user is for “known user” applications, such as within a call center or fleet tracking applications.
  • Per transactions is for “anonymous user” applications, such as a Web site locator or travel portal. Pricing is dependent on the numbers of users and/or transactions you purchase.

Get more information.

Q. What level of integration exists between Visual Studio and Virtual Earth?
A. The Virtual Earth Map Control is AJAX-based and does not currently support integration with Visual Studio help system or with the WYSIWYG designers and editors. However, developers using Visual Studio’s Visual Web Developer still benefit from the debugging, code management, and other features. The MapPoint Web Service SOAP SDK integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio help system. Once users have registered the MapPoint Web Service Web Services Description Language (WSDL) with their Visual Studio Solution, Visual Studio .NET automatically generates the methods and classes for the MapPoint Web Service. The MapPoint Web Service was built from the ground up to be a great .NET-connected Web service and is completely integrated with Visual Studio. We thinks Visual Studio is the best development environment to use with the MapPoint Web Service.

Q. Can the Virtual Earth platform be used with other platforms such as Solaris, Java, Perl and Linux?
A. Yes, it can be programmatically accessed by virtually any development environment that conforms to the required standards. The MapPoint Web Service API is a standard SOAP XML-based Web service exposed through WSDL. So long as your development platform of choice supports SOAP web service standards, it can be used with MapPoint Web Service, Because the Map Control is a client side component run in the web browser, there is no dependency on the development environment. The control can be developed in any environment that can output standard HTML and JScript code for the client, even in environments that can only deliver static pages.

Q. Is the Virtual Earth platform just for Web-based solutions?
A. No. Any solution that consumes the Virtual Earth platform needs an Internet connection, but that doesn’t mean the Virtual Earth is only for Web applications. There are many instances where the Virtual Earth platform is part of a rich solution or automated process running on a server. Currently the Map Control is only supported running in a Web browser, but the SOAP APIs can be used with virtually any application architecture.

Q. You produces a lot of different mapping products. Can you explain the differences and who might use them?

  • For the Developer: The Virtual Earth platform is an integrated set of services that enterprise and developers use to build applications with location and map-based search functionality. The MapPoint ActiveX Control provides offline access to many of the same features as the Virtual Earth platform, so it is used for applications such as fleet tracking when a continuous Internet connection is not available.
  • For the Consumer: Microsoft Streets & Trips provides personal mapping features and is the number-one selling travel application. Pocket Streets is the PDA-based version of Streets & Trips and is used by mobile device users who want to take mapping with them. Windows Live Local is our free consumer portal for online local search and mapping.
  • For the Business User: In addition to personal mapping functionality, MapPoint 2004 provides business users with a rich set of business visualization and data tools. It is used primarily by business analysts and sales and marketing professionals.

Q. What are the performance and scalability goals for the Virtual Earth platform?
A. One of the design goals of the Virtual Earth platform is to deliver exceptional performance and scalability. For operations planning purposes and for problem identification and resolution, our response times are closely monitored. Virtual Earth serves a range of applications, including Windows Live Local and other Microsoft properties, which alone already generate millions of transactions per day with very high performance. The end-user perception of the overall solution’s performance rests on a combination of the programmable, XML-based service and the user interface solution being built. Microsoft provides extensive sample code and best practices to ensure optimal end-to-end performance for customers’ end users.

Q. How does you help ensure the privacy of customer data uploaded to the service? How does the Virtual Earth platform help maintain security and privacy?
A. Customer data uploads and other customer service site operations are encrypted using 128-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) connections. All SOAP API calls to the MapPoint Web Service API must present customer-unique credentials, and customers can change their passwords at any time to protect their accounts from unauthorized access. The Virtual Earth data center has a number of systems and processes in place to prevent and deal with security issues. Our systems also run the latest Microsoft operating systems and enterprise servers and are kept current with the most recent security patches.

Q. What devices does this service support?
A. The Virtual Earth platform is device independent. We provide sample code and different map styles that are optimized for different devices, but there is always an application that sits on or between the device and the Virtual Earth platform.

Q. Does the Virtual Earth platform provide hosting services?
A. Hosting and development services are available from our technology partners. We have carefully selected several technology partners that have proven success at providing these services to customers of the Virtual Earth platform.

Q. What if I need a specific application? Where can I find a solution or application partner for Virtual Earth?
A. On the Partners page, you can search by product and by horizontal or vertical solution area.

Q. Is there a Virtual Earth partner program?
A. When you join the Microsoft Partner Program, you create a profile that includes your Virtual Earth or MapPoint solution. You will be listed in the Microsoft Resource Directory with other solution providers, independent software vendors, consultants, training providers, and developers that work with Virtual Earth and Microsoft MapPoint technologies. Potential partners can find more information.

Q. How can I become a Virtual Earth technology partner?
A. We always welcome inquiries from potential Virtual Earth technology partners. Find out how you can become a MapPoint and Virtual Earth technology partner.

Q. What is Microsoft .NET?
A. Microsoft .NET is software for connecting information, people, systems, and devices through Web services. A “.NET-connected” application conforms to the core principles of being a Web service. Any application—Microsoft or third party—can be considered .NET connected. Learn more about Microsoft.NET.

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