Virtual Earth, Microsoft releases ver 6.2 today!
Its been rumoured for a few days but now its official the new version of the Virtual Earth ajax web control has been released. Considering this is just a minor release it has a lot of features packed into it:<ol> <li>Localised map tiles for German, French, Italian and Spanish
<a href="http://earthware-website.azurewebsites.net/Content/images/wp-images/2008/09/image5.png"><img style="border: 0px;" src="http://earthware-website.azurewebsites.net/Content/images/wp-images/2008/09/image-thumb4.png" border="0" alt="image" width="320" height="315" /></a></li> <li>Built in client side pushpin clustering</li> <li>Landmark based routing, currently supported in the USA for fast food restaurants and petrol stations</li> <li>Massive improvements in European and Worldwide addresses parsing specifically improved for UK, France, Italy and Spain</li> <li>Static maps for mobile (see more below)</li> <li>Ability to disable the default virtual earth tiles, when adding custom tile layer (no word on how to license this scenario though)</li></ol> There is now also a set of Virtual Earth web services (seperate from the mappoint web services): <ol> <li>Imagery meta data webservice - gives date range of imagery and provider details (only for ortho imagery)</li> <li>Geocoding web service - using the virtual earth geocoder, not the mpws one and with the improvements as mentioned above</li> <li>Reverse geocoding worldwide - available wherever routing is available</li> <li>Search and routing - web service methods to match the ajax controls existing methods</li> <li>Image tiles and static maps - you can now request tiles via the web service rather than directly to use in your own custom map controls and also for mobile devices</li> </ol> There have even been some updates to the 3D control and content: <ol> <li>Realtime weather and clouds, the clouds look great as you fly through them
<a href="http://earthware-website.azurewebsites.net/Content/images/wp-images/2008/09/image6.png"><img style="border: 0px;" src="http://earthware-website.azurewebsites.net/Content/images/wp-images/2008/09/image-thumb5.png" border="0" alt="London's real time rain clouds ;-)" width="320" height="215" /></a></li> <li>Improved installed for the 3d plugin</li> <li>More options available to user including disabling weather (when its raining and you are showing the client there lovely new beach resort :-) )</li> <li>Improved texture quality on 3d buildings</li> <li>Improved 'street level' textures on buildings - this is Microsofts answer to Google Streetview where they have textured the lower parts of buildings with imagery taken at street level</li> <li>Import of models from your own hosting (no need to upload to live.com) in the lightwave obj format</li> <li>New version of 3dvia shape</li></ol> <h3>Getting Stuck In</h3> To get started with version 6.2 first try the <a href="http://dev.live.com/virtualearth/sdk/" target="_blank">interactive sdk</a> then read through the <a href="http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa905677.aspx" target="_blank">reference sdk</a> including the <a href="http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb412561.aspx" target="_blank">whats new</a> section. <h3>Summary</h3> There seem to have been a bit of a delay getting this release live as it was due to be released on the 22nd but it goes to show how big a release it is. So as you can see the Virtual Earth dev team have been really busy. Its brilliant to see how many features requested by the developer community have been released. To be honest when I was asked what new features we wanted to see in the future there weren't many I could think of any more, it just goes to show how mature a product the ajax control is becoming. Now access to the tiles have been officially supported it will be interesting to see what commercial uses people find for this and the mobile maps.
It's also great to see the hard work of the MultiMap team making it into the Virtual Earth control as they contributed to the pushpin clustering and the massive improvements in worldwide geocoding and address parsing.