Bing Maps Silverlight control - top 10 wish list for release

Anthony Marshall
Anthony Marshall
22 Jun 2009
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UPDATED: As recommend by SoulSoltions in the comments I have marked each wish by whether it should be in the core control or in a separate toolkit (IMHO)

We have spent the last month working with the current Bing maps Silverlight CTP control (formally Virtual Earth) to create the new Bing Maps World Tour application which has been a really great experience. The current Silverlight control opens up a whole new world of possibilities when creating rich mapping solutions but as always we want MORE!


Here is our top 10 wish list for features and tweaks to be in the final map release in no particular order:


1.     Custom map view animations – include in core
Being able to quickly customise the speed and style of animation the map uses when navigating between map views would be great and allow developers and designers to add their own unique touch to their mapping projects.


2.     A basic pushpin & infobox control – include in toolkit

The Silverlight control team have deliberately left the creation of pushpins and popups to developers and designers as this gives us complete control and flexibility which is great and something missing from the current Ajax control. However, we can see some good reasons to have a basic pushpin and infobox offered by the final control release.

Firstly for new Silverlight developers coding a pushpin and infobox that works the same as the Ajax pushpin control is not a simple task so having a basic control they can style or build upon would allow people to get simple applications up and running faster.

Secondly for experienced developers being able to inherit from built-in controls will save a lot of repeated coding in different projects.


3.     Easy to style navigation controls – include in core
You can currently style the navigation controls, but getting access to this functionality is not straightforward (hopefully we will blog a tutorial on this soon). Being able to just apply a style or custom template as for normal Silverlight controls would be brilliant.


4.     Bird’s eye imagery – include in core

It goes without saying that Bird’s eye imagery is one of Bing maps greatest features, we hope it will make it into the first official release.


5.     Clustering – include in toolkit
Having a basic but extendable clustering solution would again help new and experienced developers quickly get applications online.


6.     Built in routing – include in toolkit
Although routing can currently be achieved quite simply using the examples from the interactive sdk, having this functionality built-in would save a lot of time and effort and again make it more open to new developers.


7.     Real time zoom level range data – include in core
The CTP release improves on the Ajax control by restricting zoom levels when the higher zoom levels are not available at a location. This is a great start but the data for this is not very detailed and you will still often get the dreaded camera icon appear.

Being able to get more detailed data, ideally in real time would be an excellent addition to the control ensuring we banish the camera icon forever! 


8.     Drawing controls – include in toolkit
Something that has often been requested for the ajax control is an officially supported set of drawing controls allowing polyline and polygon drawing as on Having these available first in the Silverlight control would be great especially as it should be easier in Silverlight than it is in cross browser javascript. 


9.     KML / GeoRSS support – include in toolkit
The ability to quickly load a georss or kml file into the ajax control has been a massive help to new users and those of us wanting to quickly generate a map from existing content. Having this in the Silverlight control would encourage people to use the new control more as mashups would be quick to create.  


10.  Modular design
One issue with the ajax control has been that you need to download all the control code even if you don’t want to use all the features in your project. With the current Bing Maps Silverlight control dll coming in at 489kb it would be good to be able to optionally include features by having different dll’s for separate parts of the control. Another option would be to support assembly caching for the Silverlight map control similar to that in Silverlight 3 for the core framework dlls.


It was actually pretty difficult to come up with 10 sensible wishes as the current control has so many great features already. It would be great to see these all release but I have no doubt they are not all, if any, on the release list. Hopefully those that don’t make it might become part of the new direction that the codeplex project DeepEarth is taking, by creating a collection of reusable map controls in Silverlight.


We would love to hear comments about your own suggested features to see what the community as a whole want to see developed, so please add your comments below.

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