Virtual Earth Silverlight Control CTP available Friday, we've been playing already

You may have heard the news today that the new Virtual Earth Silverlight map control Community Tech Preview was announced today at MIX09! We have been lucky enough to be Beta testing the control for a few weeks now here at Earthware and its been a real eye opener to the future of interactive mapping.

What's all the fuss about?

The Silverlight Virtual Earth map control will usher in a new era of multimedia rich, great looking interactive mapping projects that simply were not possible using the existing APIs. Here are a few of the highlights we think the control offers:

  1. Quick and simple animation of the map and data added to it
  2. Scalable user interfaces that will look great on any resolution screen (even mobile in future)
  3. Highly integrated video, audio and imagery much more than just displaying a map popup
  4. Easily skinable map controls
  5. Cross browser compatability! No more css hacks for Virtual Earth or pesky javascript issues
  6. Wrap around maps. For those who have struggled plotting lines across the map from east to west don't worry, the Silverlight control already allows continuous map wrapping!

The control is not a final release yet so there are a few things that might be better:

  1. There is a learning curve for using Silverlight
  2. The control requires a bit more work from developers; there is no pushpin class or infobox in the current release. This means it's very flexible but takes a bit more setup for a simple map
  3. There is no birdseye currently, but this is promised for release
  4. There is also no 3D control. Nothing has been mentioned about this but maybe Silverlight 3??
  5. Obviously not everyone has the Silverlight plugin installed yet...

Overall the control is a great start and will allow developers to create some exciting applications not possible before now, but there is still lots of work to do before it's as easy and comprehensive as the current javascript API.

What have we been doing with the control so far?

Of course the first question we had was what shall we make with the new Silverlight Virtual Earth Map control. We had some ideas which were not easily achievable using the Javascript API.

We cannot show you any code samples until Friday when the CTP is made public but we can show you our first Silverlight Virtual Earth map demo a Silverlight live Twitter map.

twittermap

http://earthware.cloudapp.net/demos/sltwittermap.aspx

This demo uses a combination of live Twitter data, the multimap geocoding api, and the Virtual Earth Silverlight control.

We will hopefully look at releasing some code and coding tutorial after the release on Friday, until then enjoy the demo.

Now we need to start creating a Silverlight version of our estate agent / property mapping product EarthwareProperty!