Microsoft Virtual Earth Adds SOAP, More 3D, and Weather

Some big changes with Virtual Earth as Microsoft has announced the release of a new SOAP Web Service for Virtual Earth and an update to the Virtual Earth Map Control. The Virtual Earth AJAX Control SDK and the Virtual Earth Interactive SDK have both been updated as well.

According to Virtual Earth, An Evangelist's Blog:

The new SOAP based Virtual Earth Web Services v. 1.0 offers static map images (.gif, .jpeg and .png), direct map tile access, one-box search functionality, geocoding, reverse geocoding, routing. It supports Virtual Earth on the desktop and on mobile devices.

It will be interesting to see how developers tap into this new web service, given its breadth of features, including reverse geocoding (a much requested feature among map mashers) and routing.

The new map control (version 6.2) offers a long list of new or expanded features, some of which include:

  • Pushpin clustering. Display and cluster overlapping pushpins for better shape display at higher altitudes.
  • Hints for route instructions. Help your users find route turns with hints about nearby landmarks and intersections.
  • Imagery metadata. Retrieve information about imagery.
  • Base map disabling. Use the Virtual Earth Mercator projection in non-mapping applications by turning off the base map.
  • Support for other languages. Retrieve maps with labels in French, German, Italian, and Spanish from Virtual Earth. See the Returning Localized Results topic for a list of supported culture strings.
  • 3D model import. Import 3D model data files into a shape layer. Interact with these models as you would any shape.
  • Weather Integration. Bring your 3D maps to life by featuring near real-time local weather and cloud formations.

One of the features that really grabbed our attention is the near real-time weather integration, which gives the 3D models some great context. Head over to the MSDN web site to view the Documentation for the new web service SDK and the updated map control SDK.

You can find additional coverage of the new releases on LiveSide, WebProNews, Search Engine Land, Mark Brown's Virtual Earth Blog and on Virtual Earth, an Evangelist's Blog.

More on the VE SDK available at our Virtual Earth API profile and our listing of 150 map mashups developed with it.

Be sure to read the next Mapping article: Zillow's API Expands the Reach of Real Estate Data