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MapPoint Get MSAs Add-in

Learn how to create a MapPoint add-in by using the MapPoint object model and Microsoft Visual Basic .NET. With the add-in, users can query Pushpin sets to find out if any of the Pushpins are located within Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The add-in then displays the query results in a Microsoft Excel workbook.

Click here to download the code sample for this article.


Installing and Running the Add-in
Creating the MapPoint Get MSAs Add-in


A Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is a geographical area, defined by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB), that represents the metropolitan area of a city. In most of the United States, an MSA consists of a county or a group of counties.

MSA information can be useful in business planning, and the Get MSAs add-in provides an easy way for MapPoint users to extract and use the MSA information that is built into MapPoint. Suppose you have a list of 20,000 potential customers and want to figure out which ones to target for a sales campaign. You can import your customer list into MapPoint, and then use the Get MSAs add-in to query your Pushpin set and create a list of customers that are located within MSAs. You can then target your sales efforts to customers located in specific MSAs, based on demographic data provided by MapPoint.

Click on the thumbnail to view the full image.

The Get MSAs add-in was written in Microsoft Visual Basic .NET using the MapPoint object model and the Visual Studio Add-in Wizard. The add-in adds a dialog box in MapPoint in which you select the Pushpin set that you want to query. When you click OK, the add-in uses the MapPoint ObjectsFromPoint method to check each Pushpin to determine if it has a location type of MSA. If it does, the name of the Pushpin and the name of the MSA are exported to an Excel workbook. When the search is complete, a dialog box displays how many Pushpins were queried and how many are in MSAs, and the list of results is displayed in an open Excel workbook.

Click on the thumbnail to view the full image.

This article first describes how to install and run the completed add-in, which is provided. The article then walks you through the steps necessary to create a MapPoint add-in and use the ObjectsFromPoint method. Although the Get MSAs add-in uses the ObjectsFromPoint method to determine whether a location type of MSA is associated with each Pushpin, you can use the ObjectsFromPoint method to return any of the location information objects available in MapPoint, such as city, state, ZIP Code, or country.

This article assumes that you are familiar with Visual Basic .NET and MapPoint. For more information about programming with the MapPoint object model, see About Programming with MapPoint. For more information about MSAs and other types of standard geographical divisions that MapPoint supports, see Using Standard Geographic Codes to Import Data into MapPoint.

Installing and Running the Add-in

To run the add-in or use the sample code, you must have the following software installed on your computer:

  • Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1
  • Visual Studio .NET 2003
  • MapPoint 2002 or later
  • Excel 2002 or later

To install the add-in

  1. Download the add-in from the Microsoft Download Center.
  2. Double-click the file MapPointGetMSAs.sln to open it in Visual Studio.
  3. On the Project menu, click Build Solution.
  4. In Solution Explorer, right-click the project GetMSAs (the Setup project), and then click Install. The Get MSAs Installation Wizard starts.
  5. Follow the instructions in the wizard, and then click Finish.
Note   You can uninstall the add-in by using Add or Remove Programs in Control Panel.

To run the add-in

  1. In MapPoint, on the Tools menu, click Get MSA Information for a Pushpin set.
  2. In the box that appears, select the Pushpin set that you want to query, and then click Get MSAs.

Creating the MapPoint Get MSAs Add-in

This section is divided into two parts: the first part describes how to create the add-in in Visual Studio .NET. The second part describes how to use the ObjectsFromPoint method to get MSA information from a Pushpin set and send it to Excel.

Creating a MapPoint Add-in

Creating the add-in consists of three main steps:

  1. Create the basic framework for the add-in with the Visual Studio Add-in Wizard.
  2. Add code to create a menu item for the add-in in MapPoint and perform some clean-up work after the add-in runs. You add this code to a file generated by the Add-in Wizard.
  3. Create the user interface for the add-in and add code that provides its core functionality.

To create the framework for the add-in

  1. In Visual Studio, on the File menu, point to New, and then click Project.
  2. Under Project Types, expand Other Projects, expand Extensibility Projects, and then under Templates, click Shared Add-In.
  3. Give the project and solution a name and, optionally, specify a new location for the project files, and then click OK. The Add-in Wizard starts.
  4. On the Welcome page, click Next.
  5. Work through the pages in the wizard, choosing the following options:
    • On the Select a Programming Language page, select Visual Basic .NET as your programming language.
    • On the Select an Application Host page, clear all check boxes except Microsoft MapPoint.
    • On the Name and Description page, type a name and description for the add-in.
    • On the Choose Add-in Options page, select the I would like my add-in to load when the host application loads check box.
  6. On the summary page, review the settings you've chosen, and then click Finish.

To add a menu item and clean-up code

The Add-in wizard creates the file Connect.vb to implement the methods of the IDTExtensibility2 interface that are necessary for an add-in. The Connect class in Connect.vb contains code to expose the add-in to the end user and clean up after the application runs.

  • In Solution Explorer, double-click the file Connect.vb to open it, and after the line containing the GuidAttribute element, replace the existing code with the following code:
Public Class Connect

    Implements Extensibility.IDTExtensibility2

    Dim applicationObject As Object
    Dim addInInstance As Object

    Protected Friend Shared MPApp As MapPoint.Application

Public Sub OnBeginShutdown(ByRef custom As System.Array) Implements Extensibility.IDTExtensibility2.OnBeginShutdown
    End Sub

    Public Sub OnAddInsUpdate(ByRef custom As System.Array) Implements Extensibility.IDTExtensibility2.OnAddInsUpdate
    End Sub

    Public Sub OnStartupComplete(ByRef custom As System.Array) Implements Extensibility.IDTExtensibility2.OnStartupComplete
    End Sub
    Private Sub ReleaseObject(ByVal MPApp As Object)

            MPApp = Nothing
        End Try
    End Sub
    Public Sub OnDisconnection(ByVal RemoveMode As Extensibility.ext_DisconnectMode, ByRef custom As System.Array) Implements Extensibility.IDTExtensibility2.OnDisconnection
        On Error Resume Next
        If RemoveMode <> Extensibility.ext_DisconnectMode.ext_dm_HostShutdown Then _
           Call OnBeginShutdown(custom)
    End Sub
    Public Sub OnConnection(ByVal application As Object, ByVal connectMode As Extensibility.ext_ConnectMode, ByVal addInInst As Object, ByRef custom As System.Array) Implements Extensibility.IDTExtensibility2.OnConnection
        applicationObject = application
        addInInstance = addInInst
        MPApp = CType(application, MapPoint.Application)
        ' Add an item to the Tools menu in MapPoint.
        MPApp.AddCommand("Get &MSA information for a Pushpin set...", "ShowAddInForm", Me)

    End Sub
    Public Sub ShowAddInForm()
        Dim FormAddIn As New MapPointGetMSAs.FormMSAQuery
    End Sub

End Class

To add the user interface and core functionality

  1. Add a new form to the project, and name it FormMSAQuery. This form is loaded by the ShowAddInForm subroutine, which you added to Connect.vb earlier.
  2. Add a button and combo box to the form, and name them ButtonCreateList and ComboBoxDataSets.
  3. Copy the sample code from the following section into the code view for the new form.
  4. Add references to the COM objects Microsoft MapPoint <version> and Microsoft Excel <version>:
    1. On the Project menu, click Add Reference, and then click the COM tab.
    2. Under Component Name, click the name of each component you're adding while pressing CTRL, click Select, and then click OK.
  5. Build the solution, and then run Setup, using the procedure described in Installing and Running the Add-in.

When you launch MapPoint, your add-in will be ready to go on the Tools menu.

Using the ObjectsFromPoint Method

The ObjectsFromPoint method queries the x and y coordinates of a Pushpin and returns all location types that are associated with that point on the map; latitude and longitude, city, country, county, ZIP Code, MSA, and so on. If the Pushpin is not in an MSA, that location type, whose value is 10, is not returned by the query. For more information about MapPoint location types, see the MapPoint Help topic GeoShowDataBy values.

The example code in this section is divided into four main steps:

  1. Get the MapPoint Application object and data sets, and find out which Pushpin set the user wants to query.
  2. Set the zoom level and map style so that we can search for MSAs.
  3. Call ObjectsFromPoint, set up Excel, and write the query results to the workbook.
  4. Return the zoom level and map style to their original settings and display the results of the search.
Getting the MapPoint Application Object and Pushpin Sets

We'll begin by declaring the variables we'll need. Next, we'll load the form, getting the active MapPoint Application object and map. We'll then populate the combo box on the form with the Pushpin sets on the active map. Finally, we'll use the Click event of the ButtonCreateList button to get the Pushpin set the user chose from the combo box.

'Declare variables.
    Dim MPApp As MapPoint.Application
    Dim Map As MapPoint.Map
    Dim Pins As MapPoint.DataSet
    Dim Pin As MapPoint.Pushpin
    Dim FindResults As MapPoint.FindResults
    Dim Result As Object
    Dim DSs As MapPoint.DataSets
    Dim DS As MapPoint.DataSet
    Dim Center As MapPoint.Location
    Dim Style As MapPoint.GeoMapStyle
    Dim ExcelApp As New Excel.Application
    Dim ExcelSheet As Excel.Worksheet

    Dim Row, Alt, n As Integer
    Dim x, y As Long    
    Dim MSA, City, PinName, SetName As String
    Private Sub FormGetMSAs_Load(ByVal sender As System.Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles MyBase.Load
        'Get the active application, map, and data sets.
        MPApp = GetObject(, "MapPoint.Application")
        MPApp.UserControl = True
        Map = MPApp.ActiveMap
        DSs = MPApp.ActiveMap.DataSets

        'Position the add-in form on the screen.
        Me.Left = MPApp.Left + 50
        Me.Top = MPApp.Top + 50
'Populate the drop-down list with the names of the Pushpin sets on the
'current map.
'If none of the data sets are Pushpin sets or if there are no
'data sets, inform the user.
        If DSs.Count <> 0 Then
            For Each DS In DSs
                If DS.DataMapType = MapPoint.GeoDataMapType.geoDataMapTypePushpin Then
                End If
                If ComboBoxDataSets.Items.Count = 0 Then
                    MsgBox("None of the data sets on the map are Pushpin sets. Convert the data set that you want to query to a Pushpin set (non-aggregated or point data), and then run the Get MSAs tool again.", MsgBoxStyle.ApplicationModal, "Get MSA Information")
                End If

'If no data sets exist, display a message.
            MsgBox("There are no data sets on this map. Please import your data and try again.  ", MsgBoxStyle.ApplicationModal, "Get MSA Information")
            MPApp = Nothing
        End If
    End Sub
Private Sub ButtonCreateList_Click(ByVal sender As System.Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles btnCreateList.Click
'On button click, if the user selected a Pushpin set in the drop-down
'list, use it. If not, prompt the user again.
            If ComboBoxDataSets.Text <> "Select a pushpin set" Then
                SetName = ComboBoxDataSets.Text
                Pins = Map.DataSets.Item(SetName)
                MsgBox("Please select a Pushpin set.", MsgBoxStyle.Exclamation, "Get MSA Information")
End If
Catch ex As Exception
            MsgBox(ex.ToString & " on record number " & n - 1, MsgBoxStyle.Exclamation, "Error getting data")

  End Try
   End Sub
Setting the Zoom Level and Map Style

Different location types are displayed at different zoom levels of the map. For example, if you view a map at a high zoom level, less detail is displayed. As you zoom in, you see more city names, parks, roads, and so on.

MSAs are consistently available at a zoom level that is equal to an altitude of 15 miles and when the map style is set to Data Map. To be able to retrieve the data we're looking for, we'll set the map to that zoom level and style before calling the ObjectsFromPoint method. First, however, we'll determine the current map style, altitude, and location so that we can change the settings back later.

Note   Remove the comment character from the MPApp.Activate statement in the following code if you want to bring MapPoint to the foreground to watch it search.
    Private Sub CreateList()
     Center = Map.Location
       Style = Map.MapStyle
       Alt = Map.Altitude


'Set the map to the style and altitude where MSAs are displayed. 
        Map.MapStyle = MapPoint.GeoMapStyle.geoMapStyleData
        Map.Altitude = "15"

        On Error GoTo ErrorHandler
Calling ObjectsFromPoint and Writing Data to Excel

Next, we'll iterate through the Pushpin set, calling ObjectsFromPoint for each Pushpin, looking for object type 10. If a Pushpin doesn't have an object type 10 at this zoom level, it's not in an MSA. If the Pushpin is in an MSA, we'll send its name and the MSA it's in to the Excel workbook.

If a user-defined Data Map (shaded areas, charts, sized circles, and so on) exists in the current map in addition to Pushpin sets, a DataMap object is returned as an object of a Pushpin if the DataMap object and Pushpin touch. But because a DataMap object does not have a location type, it will throw an error. We'll skip DataMap objects by using the Case Nothing statement in the following code.

'Keep track of the what is being sent to Excel.
 Row = 1     
 Dim RS As MapPoint.Recordset = Pins.QueryAllRecords
       Do Until RS.EOF
            n += 1
            FindResults = Map.ObjectsFromPoint(Map.LocationToX _
(RS.Pushpin.Location), Map.LocationToY(RS.Pushpin.Location))
'ObjectsFromPoint gets all the location objects for these x and y 'coordinates of the Pushpin location.
  For Each Result In FindResults
                Select Case Result.type
                    Case Nothing 
                        Exit Select
                    Case Is = 10
If Row = 1 Then
'Set up the Excel worksheet in order to enter data.
                            ExcelApp = New Excel.Application
                            ExcelSheet = ExcelApp.Worksheets.Item(1)
                            ExcelApp.Visible = True
                            ExcelApp.UserControl = True
                        End If
                        Row += 1
                        ExcelSheet.Cells(Row, 1).value = _
                        ExcelSheet.Cells(Row, 2).value =
                End Select

'Add header information to the Excel worksheet if records exist.
        If Row > 1 Then
            ExcelSheet.Cells(1, 1).value = "Name"
            ExcelSheet.Cells(1, 2).value = "Metro Area"
        End If

'MsgBox(Err.Description & " on record number " & n - 1,_ MsgBoxStyle.Exclamation, "Error Getting Data") 

        Resume Next
Resetting the Map Style and Zoom Level and Displaying Results

Our last steps are to set the user's map back to the original style and zoom level and indicate how many Pushpins were in MSAs.

        MPApp.ActiveMap.MapStyle = Style
        MPApp.ActiveMap.Altitude = Alt
        Select Case n
            Case 0
                MsgBox("No Pushpins were found in this data set.  ", MsgBoxStyle.Information, "Process Complete")

            Case 1
                Select Case Row
                    Case 1
                        MsgBox(n & " Pushpin was checked, it is not within an MSA bounds.  ", MsgBoxStyle.Information, "Process Complete")
                    Case 2
                        MsgBox(n & " Pushpin checked, it is in an MSA.  ", MsgBoxStyle.Information, "Process Complete")
                End Select
            Case Else
                Select Case Row
                    Case 1
                        MsgBox(n & " Pushpins checked, none were in MSAs.  ", MsgBoxStyle.Information, "Process Complete")
                    Case 2
                        MsgBox(n & " Pushpins checked, 1 was in an MSA.  ", MsgBoxStyle.Information, "Process Complete")
                    Case Else
                        MsgBox(n & " Pushpins checked, " & Row - 1 & " were in MSAs.  ", MsgBoxStyle.Information, "Process Complete")
                End Select
        End Select

End Sub
End Class

Click on the thumbnail to view the full image.


With the Get MSA information add-in, you can use the MSA information provided by MapPoint for business planning and analysis. Although this add-in uses the ObjectsFromPoint method to search for the location type MSA for each Pushpin, you can modify the add-in to return any of the location information objects available in MapPoint, such as city, state, ZIP Code, or country. Remember that all location types are not displayed at all levels of a MapPoint map, so make sure that the map is at a zoom level where the location type you want is displayed before calling ObjectsFromPoint. For more information about MapPoint location objects that you can access through the ObjectsFromPoint method, see the MapPoint Help topic, GeoShowDataBy values. For more information about programming with MapPoint, visit the MapPoint Developer Center on MSDN.

Laura Cramb is a software test engineer in the MapPoint Product Group.

Discuss this story in the forum.

Author: Laura Cramb
Email: lcramb(AT)
Laura Cramb is the Software Test Lead for the MapPoint and Streets & Trips desktop applications. She has worked at Microsoft for over six years and has spent the last four years working in the MapPoint Business Unit. Her friends and family are quite amused at her choice of product groups as she was born with absolutely no sense of direction. According to Laura, “Who better to test map software?” Laura is a Canadian raised in California where she earned associate degrees in Business and Computer Science.

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