MapPoint .NET version 3.0

By Joe Francica

MapPoint Microsoft made an announcement last week regarding the release of MapPoint .NET version 3.We spoke to Microsoft's Steve Lombardi, a frequent contributor to Directions Magazine and the author of two papers regarding .XML Web Services, GIS, and Location Technologies that can be found at our site.

With every major release of MapPoint .NET there has been new data and software features and version 3 is no exception.There has been a major "refresh" of the data for North America and Europe.As noted in previous editorials, Applied Geographic Solutions and Simmons will be supplying the demographic data for this release.New territories for North America have been added, specifically, street level data for Puerto Rico.In Europe, new cities and countries have been added with expanded street-level data for Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.Navtech is the primary source for these data.

The addition of these data has allowed Microsoft to drive software feature development such as in geocoding and street rendering.The following is a synopsis of the new features:

  • Microsoft has internally developed the reverse geocoding functionality that is available through the application programming interface (API).The definition of reverse geocoding, according to Microsoft, is the ability to collect a latitude-longitude coordinate, which can be acquired from GPS or a wireless op    erators network or a database, and find an address.Developers using .NET can retrieve that coordinate and any other geographically referenced point or area and regress the operation to find successively lower levels of geographic position. For example, a person with a handheld device could be receiving a GPS-derived latitude and longitude coordinate and .NET would be used to find the nearest address or addresses.Multiple addresses can be returned using the reverse geocoding function if there is a question about which is the closest address. Then, as mentioned, you can request to find what zip code or city the address resides and other progressively larger political subdivisions (e.g.county, state, country).With this functionality, Microsoft has the mobile market squarely in its sites.
  • Microsoft will make available a large, comprehensive database from Acxiom that includes their full, geocoded business listings - all 16 million businesses classified by SIC code.The Acxiom data will contain, for example, the number of years in business, languages spoken at the company, estimated annual sales, etc.Clearly, the data is being made available so that companies can do a more thorough job of competitive analysis and target marketing.The availability of these data will be on a transaction basis as part of the MapPoint .NET service.
  • Different algorithms are available to developers wishing to use small render styles for maps that are served to a PDA or other mobile handset.In particular, as developers are able to make more maps available on mobile devices, key elements that make the map useful, such as street labeling, can now be customized to meet this need.In addition, the presentation of street centerlines in a small render style can be weighted according to other points of interest that fall in proximity to a mapped feature.Whereas before most streets are rendered to a "best fit" given the available viewing area, now, when other features are presented in the map, streets that have relatively higher importance to understanding the location of these features will be given a higher priority for display.
  • Over 25 new map styles are now available for writing applications that need to be optimized for black and white display, as in a WAP phone or small render styles as mentioned above, for example.
  • Enhanced routing is another new feature. In .NET v.2, point to point routing was a standard feature.V.3 has multiple point routing, in addition to the ability to display road construction information, similar to what was available in the desktop product.Improvements have been made to the route instructions to make them appear more understandable to drivers, which was based on usability testing that Microsoft performed.
  • Address parsing is now possible as well, which is beneficial for taking address data that has not been thoroughly checked for quality.In doing the parsing, on the fly, the data can be more easily recognized by the geocoder for creating coordinates.Microsoft admits that is not quite a full address standardization like that of other geocoding solutions but it allows MapPoint to take "dirty strings" from databases where addresses are not quite clean enough.This is not in any way a CASS certified solution.
  • V.3 has a provision for better encryption where developers can now choose to use "https" as a transport mechanism for calls to the API.
Microsoft had no additional information on a previously announced product called Microsoft Enterprise Location Server, a middleware piece that pulls together MapPoint, the enterprise, and the wireless carrier.It will be a component hosted by the enterprise for performance and security reasons and released sometime early in 2003.

Published Wednesday, December 18th, 2002

Written by Joe Francica

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