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MapPoint Chat

This is a log of the recent chat with B.J. Holtgrewe, a wide variety of topics were covered. Jill and Wayne Freeze and Joe Francica make surprise visits.

[18:28] *** Jill_Freeze has joined #MapPoint
[18:29] BJHolt> The lady that wrote the best portion of the book has joined us! hello Jill...
[18:29] EricFrost> Oh surprise! hello Jill :-)
[18:29] Jill_Freeze> Hi, BJ! I don't know about the "best" portion, but....
[18:29] Jill_Freeze> Hi, Eric!
[18:31] BJHolt> So how many of us are true MapPoint users in our daily lifes?
[18:31] WaltCygan> Here
[18:32] Gilles> Here too - daily use
[18:32] EricFrost> I suppose we've officially started, I don't suppose there's too many of us that we need to moderate..
[18:32] BJHolt> Actually I use it also!
[18:32] Gilles> So we get to ask some real questions ?
[18:32] Jill_Freeze> Me, too. We just used it to help our financially troubled school re-examine potential bus route cuts.
[18:33] WaltCygan> Part of an app I wrote for the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension uses MapPoint to map where offenders live.
[18:33] Gilles> I just used it to find out which VBits conference to attend :)
[18:33] BJHolt> SF? or one in Europe?
[18:33] BJHolt> Fire away...
[18:34] Gilles> Maybe Stockholm. NY was vetoed by the powers that be (too expensive apparently), SF is too soon.
[18:34] BJHolt> I'll be at VSLive at the end of next week in san fran.
[18:34] WaltCygan> What are plans for improving data access in future versions? UDLs don't cut it.
[18:35] WaltCygan> I'm using SQL Server.
[18:35] Gilles> BJ: I was wondering how you did achieve the high level of useability MP exhibits - any special device / technique / advice used ?
[18:35] BJHolt> So to be fair to the MapPoint team and to my new divison, MS Research I need to state that i'n no longer involved in the day-to-day MP tacticl or strategic decissions.
[18:35] BJHolt> But I'll talk straight and open...
[18:37] BJHolt> Q1 UDL's can be limiting. I wrote an VB COM Add-in that allowed MP to take data from an non-MS database that provided much power.
[18:37] BJHolt> That's the neat thing about MP and the object model. You can have almost everything your way.
[18:38] BJHolt> Q2: The usability of MP really was improved and tested over many years.
[18:39] *** KlausObd has joined #MapPoint
[18:39] BJHolt> the MapPoint team formally know as the Microsoft Geography Product Unit was in the Home and Retail division until two cycles ago. We lived with gamers and reference folks.
[18:39] MP2KMag> Here's one Klaus submitted: Is Mappoint.Net additional or a replacement for Mappoint on CDs ? (Will there be a next Mappoint 200x on CD and included with MSDN ) - oh hey Klaus !
[18:40] Gilles> AFAIK MSDN 01/2002 doesn't include Mp2k anymore
[18:40] BJHolt> MapPoint.NET is not a direct replacement for MapPoint the CD
[18:40] BJHolt> application and MapPoint the ActiveX control. Although I've moved
[18:40] BJHolt> to MS Research and am no longer directly involved with the
[18:40] BJHolt> strategic direction of MapPoint I'm confident future versions of
[18:40] BJHolt> the technology will include smart client technology along with
[18:40] BJHolt> cool technology in the cloud.
[18:40] BJHolt> The Microsoft .NET approach is all about the cloud and smart
[18:40] BJHolt> clients working together.
[18:40] BJHolt> type fast don't I! :-)
[18:41] Gilles> Will there be "Intranet" versions of MapPoint.NET ?
[18:42] BJHolt> Not that I'm aware of at this time. "MapPoint.NET in a Box" is something that I beleive will be considered at some point in the future.
[18:43] WaltCygan> BTW, I used MapInfo before, and tried an ESRI trial but MapPoint's usability just knocked their socks off. Very nice.
[18:44] EricFrost> I would imagine for Intranet use you could hobble together some kind of gateway, I don't know..
[18:44] BJHolt> MapPoint was never designed to be a GIS application from the start.
[18:44] BJHolt> I call it everyday business mapping.
[18:45] Gilles> I see. Are you aware and able to hint at any new features we might look forward to in MapPoint 2003 ?
[18:45] BJHolt> In fact the MapPoint map building team uses products from MapInfo and ESRI.
[18:45] BJHolt> I would guess that new maps will be in order
[18:45] *** WayneFreeze has joined #MapPoint
[18:46] BJHolt> Mrs and Mr Freeze! we are honored...
[18:46] WayneFreeze> I just thought I'd stop by and see what's up.
[18:46] EricFrost> Really? I never heard that you used any MapInfo technology... interesting.
[18:46] WaltCygan> One complaint that seems to surface in the newsgroup frequently is the lack of layers (couties, zips, etc.) that can be selectively
turned on/off. Any insight into this feature showing up at some point? [18:46] BJHolt> Turn the quesrion around... what features would you like to see?
[18:46] WayneFreeze> I'm supposed to be working on a MapPoint presentation
[18:47] WayneFreeze> for an upcoming Office conference.
[18:47] Jill_Freeze> I made him get his feet wet since he's doing a MapPoint session for Informant's Office conference in May .
[18:47] BJHolt> Every time I use MP and run up against the lack of control with layers I also scream!
[18:47] Gilles> Better GPS support, everything interactively available programmatically available. And buy NavTech :-)
[18:47] BJHolt> I begged for the ability to turn off labels but it just never made it
[18:48] BJHolt> Not sure what better` GPS support means
[18:48] WaltCygan> Someone made a good point about that with "England" appearing on all maps.
[18:48] BJHolt> Buy Navtech? I personally love the data vendors we use but I'd hate to be in their business.
[18:49] Gilles> GPS: Transfer or tracks, routes, waypoints in both directions. Heck, check out AGPS for some ideas as far as moving map is concerned.
[18:49] BJHolt> So you want to just turn off England! Churchhill just rolled in his grave...
[18:49] BJHolt> Neat thing is this can all be done in VB code.
[18:50] BJHolt> I've seen a couple of really cool implmentations and started building my own last week...
[18:50] *** Joe_Francica has joined #MapPoint
[18:50] EricFrost> Hey Joe!
[18:50] Joe_Francica> How's it going? Glad to be on!
[18:51] BJHolt> Jill if I ask nicely can I get a signed copy of the book?
[18:52] EricFrost> We're running an un-moderated forum thus far, if you have any questions for the authors of the MapPoint book, feel free to chime in.
[18:52] WaltCygan> The object model is great, but Gilles had a great point about having everything available in the object model that is available interactively. Tough, but doable?
[18:53] BJHolt> What are you missing that you want?
[18:53] Jill_Freeze> Uh, I would but I don't have a copy yet nor does our tiny Barnes and Noble have them. I haven't even seen it yet ;-)
[18:53] BJHolt> I'll send you some overnight tomorrow...
[18:54] EricFrost> Joe Francica is the Editor and General Manager of Directions Magazine, the organization that provides hosting for our magazine.
[18:54] BJHolt> Big guy is watching...
[18:55] Jill_Freeze> What a guy . E-mail me your snail mail address and I'll send you a signed book--IF you'll send me one signed from you!
[18:55] Joe_Francica> BJ, do you think that MapPoint will eventually offer point in polygon functionality; i.e. find all my customers within the zipcode with >50000 Avg. Income?
[18:55] WaltCygan> Let me think... Some territories stuff is missing, i believe. That can generally be enhanced.
[18:55] Gilles> Not available programmatically: location sensor, phone numbers of POI, territory object, pane display ...
[18:56] KlausObd> What about edges of a part of a route ? For the moment you get just the middlepoint
[18:56] BJHolt> JF _ Point in Poly as you discribe it is there in a two step process. Do an Export to Excel and sort the field that you want to qualify.
[18:56] BJHolt> You can also write a little COM Add-in that does it for you..
[18:57] BJHolt> Walt. what territory stuff?
[18:57] Joe_Francica> Yes, I figured that...now all I have to do is learn VB ;-)
[18:58] BJHolt> Gilles - what location sensor? Getting to the phone numbers is do-able the pane display is a troubled area I agree.
[18:58] BJHolt> Or get someone from the MP community to build it for you!
[18:58] WayneFreeze> I can think of worse things than learning VB
[18:58] KlausObd> What about a street update specially in Europe ?
[18:59] Gilles> You can easily create your own, but the "Location sensor" window cannot be shown/hidden programmatically.
[18:59] BJHolt> I would expect it in the future in that MS has always seen the maps as being as important as the app.
[18:59] KlausObd> Wayne: VB or VFred (the new one)
[19:00] KlausObd> Pulling out phone numbers of POI is doable by VB ?
[19:01] BJHolt> John from Airbiquity postd a sample at mp2kmag.com that included this I believe..
[19:01] WaltCygan> No the phone number is not a property
[19:02] KlausObd> AHA!!
[19:02] KlausObd> Thanks
[19:02] Gilles> BJ: there is no "phone number" property, if the address is lacking, sometimes there is the phone number instead.
[19:02] BJHolt> Ok I stand corrected...
[19:02] WayneFreeze> Fred is a bit harder, but more powerful. I hope that MapPoint 2003 uses it, but since they haven't been able to get their database code correct (I've been complaining since 2000 B1) I doubt they'll get that right Any comments BJ?
[19:03] BJHolt> The really inside scoop is that this is a good thing in that the provider of the POI's would not want this data to be farmed from MP for use elsewhere.
[19:04] Gilles> Anyone care to explain what VFred is ?
[19:04] BJHolt> If you are talking about UDL I agree. I stated earlier that i wrote a COM Add-in that worked with a non-MS database that used ADO and was much better.
[19:05] KlausObd> VFred is a name for VB Dot Net
[19:05] KlausObd> BN Dot Net is so different from VB that Karl invented a new name
[19:05] WayneFreeze> VFred is Visual Fred. Early in the .NET development cycle, someone complained that is was so radical of a change that it should be called Visual Fred, not Visual Basic.
[19:06] WaltCygan> But I can use ADO with SQL server and it doesn't do me much good because there is no ADO recordset to MP dataset conversion available.
[19:06] KlausObd> Good point
[19:06] WaltCygan> it's really the weakest programatic thing about MP for me.
[19:06] BJHolt> I agre but it depends on how you approach the MP side of things.
[19:07] KlausObd> What do you mean with that ?
[19:07] Gilles> Tnx for explaining VFred. Didn't find it more difficult, but more powerful, yes!
[19:07] BJHolt> The problem is that MP does not allow you to work with datasets in memory. It reuires data to come from a file. [19:08] WaltCygan> Which is the problem, no?
[19:08] BJHolt> The sample I created used a txt file as a temp cache.
[19:08] BJHolt> A little slower but managable.
[19:08] BJHolt> Remember I'm an old hack...
[19:08] KlausObd> What about a saved disconnected recordset ?
[19:08] BJHolt> Never say you cannot do something
[19:09] WaltCygan> Yeah, there are several work-arounds, but they seem kludgy.
[19:09] WayneFreeze> At some point, MP has to convert a Recordset into what every form it need internally. So why can't the MP team put a decent UI in front of that. Instead of simply picking a table or view, you could enter a connection string and a Select statement.
[19:09] WaltCygan> Like he said
[19:10] BJHolt> OK so I'm without a reference book here... can you get to a disconnected recordset with a small amount of code/
[19:10] WayneFreeze> This information could then be saved in the map file and reused later.
[19:10] KlausObd> but it would be easier, if you could set dataset = recordset
[19:11] BJHolt> History is that MP was to be an Office family member that got all it's data from Access and Excel.
[19:11] BJHolt> I agree that it would be easier
[19:12] KlausObd> For Europe: What about updating streets ? (Like Encarta)
[19:13] BJHolt> Encarta roads are about 20 years old now. the maps are built by the MP team. We have reved them every release of MP and I dno't see that ending.
[19:13] WayneFreeze> It would take only a handful of lines of code to get a disconnected recordset. The bulk of the code needed is for the UI stuff to get the info.
[19:14] BJHolt> Sounds like a cool COM Add-in for the after market until it makes it into the product!
[19:14] WayneFreeze> Also remember that the Access (Jet) database engine is on its last legs.
[19:14] Joe_Francica> What has been the reception of MapPoint in Europe? Is it widely available?
[19:15] BJHolt> I will stated that MP was my baby for four years and so I might be somewhat protective but i also know her flaws and will attack as needed.
[19:15] Gilles> The various European Amazons carry it.
[19:15] BJHolt> death by software is slow and sometime painful.
[19:16] BJHolt> Encarta maps are new each year but the road network is old.
[19:16] Joe_Francica> But is it viewed as something for a wireless location device or desktop mapping?
[19:16] KlausObd> i meant the monthly update possibility of Encarta
[19:16] BJHolt> MapPoint the CD product and MapPoint the ActiveX comntrol are really targeted for the desktop.
[19:17] BJHolt> MapPoint .NET will be in the cloud and Pocket Streets is for the Pocket PC.
[19:17] BJHolt> Wireless location device? Define please as there are many...
[19:18] BJHolt> One of the cool things about Mappoint .NET is the work the team is doing to allow updates.
[19:18] Joe_Francica> I noticed that the MP routing was not completely integrated with MSN MapPoint.
[19:18] Joe_Francica> Wireless..as in download streets to PDA
[19:18] BJHolt> It will take some time but I've always be in favor of it and it's in the plans.
[19:19] Joe_Francica> It looks a little lame going to the Yellow Pages and the route turns up on MapQuest
[19:19] BJHolt> pocket PC and online downloads of new maps can be done with the latest release of Pocket Streets. Look for more dev. in this area going forward.
[19:19] WaltCygan> Don't get me wrong BJ, for desktop mapping nothing in more understandable and configurable as MapPoint. We are just users that want everything in a product with a price of $10.
[19:20] Gilles> An FAQ in the newsgroup recently was Pocket Streets API - is there any ? Any plans ?
[19:20] BJHolt> Microsoft YP switched over to Super PAGES i BELEIVE THIS SUMMER. tHEY used MQ but that should change going out into the future.
[19:20] BJHolt> Think ofr it as MSNs way of help AOL!
[19:20] KlausObd> are there plans of including more countries ?
[19:21] EricFrost> Klaus: latest I heard was more streets for Sweden..
[19:21] BJHolt> You would pay $10? Too much for my budget! ;-)
[19:21] Gilles> Seconding Walt here - MapPoint is a great app - that is why we want more !
[19:21] BJHolt> Sweden has roads?
[19:22] BJHolt> Ok so I need to bo politacally correct here...
[19:22] EricFrost> I believe they used to have just dirt, now they're paving..
[19:22] BJHolt> Extending out the maps in Europe for greater coverage will come over time.
[19:22] Gilles> Scandinavians are weird - Denmark has railway stations where there are no rails, for example
[19:22] KlausObd> Ireland as well ?
[19:22] BJHolt> It's a demand time of thing.
[19:23] BJHolt> Part of the Microsoft magic is the pressure placed on a team like MapPoint to not attempt to do too much in a given time period.
[19:23] WaltCygan> I have got to go, but MP and mp2kmag .com are great. I am looking forward to trying out MapPoint.NET. Later...
[19:24] BJHolt> Priorties are hard to define and extending the map coverage is making it's way up the list..
[19:24] KlausObd> are there plans of integrating US and EU version ?
[19:24] EricFrost> Later Walt! Thanks for joining in.. ttyl.
[19:24] BJHolt> walt drop by .www.dataweave.coma nd say hello!
[19:25] BJHolt> So Jill i want to ask... What do you like least about MP?
[19:26] Jill_Freeze> Hmmm..... Since I'm not a programmer, I'll stay out of the database debate . This may sound corny, but with my visual impairment, I wish it were easier to make the Pushpin symbols bigger.
[19:27] Jill_Freeze> Since they're really icon files, they stay small even when you zoom in and out of the map.
[19:28] Joe_Francica> Jill, I agree. MP needs to have an option to size symbology
[19:28] BJHolt> i agree. i hate having to change the icon as i zoom in and out. Interesting in that other mapping apps don't suffer from this because they do not zoom in and out well!
[19:28] EricFrost> More control over symbols in general would be nice, but I guess there's also freeforms..
[19:29] BJHolt> freeforms/
[19:29] Jill_Freeze> You ain't seen my drawing abilities, Eric !
[19:29] BJHolt> you want more Office like control I bet?
[19:29] Jill_Freeze> Or more accurately, my lack thereof....
[19:29] Gilles> More control over the size and visibility of things seems to surface often on the group - be it countries, labels, pushpins ...
[19:30] Gilles> Jill, BJ, how does one manage to write a book together ? Did you split up chapters or how did it happen ?
[19:30] Jill_Freeze> And I'd like to be able to edit text attributes in the balloons like you can in other Office apps.
[19:30] BJHolt> Within the MapPoint file structure we use a concept called feature classes. we have internal tools that allow the dev/test team to control what feature classes are on or off.
[19:31] BJHolt> We do not expose this to the UI.
[19:31] Jill_Freeze> I started at the front, BJ started at the back, and we met at chapter 11 !
[19:31] KlausObd> it would be good if you could just change a route to a ordinary drawing
[19:31] BJHolt> We first were going to joinly do each chapter but that would have taken until MapPoiuint 2010!
[19:32] BJHolt> Jill and I have never met in person and until three week ago I did not know what see looked like (Wayne she sent a pic of you also!)
[19:32] KlausObd> feature classes in the ui would be great
[19:32] BJHolt> Sometime you just luck out in gettinga partnet that can carry more than her load.
[19:32] Joe_Francica> Sounds like the virtual corporation
[19:33] BJHolt> Turns out that Jill and i share a similary view of humor.
[19:33] Gilles> If she started at the front and you met at chapter 11, she definitely did more work. (No, I didn't get the pun. Refuse to)
[19:34] BJHolt> I'll admit that i was reading the book late one night last week and I laerned things from her chapters that i did not know.
[19:34] Jill_Freeze> Hey, hide that picture of me BJ--save it for rodent control !
[19:35] BJHolt> Tom Clancey was unavilable but Jill was much better
[19:35] EricFrost> To pick up on a previous topic about areas covered, what do you think might come next?
[19:35] Gilles> Tom Clancy would never have been able to come up with a chapter title like "gas-timating the cost of fuel" :-)
[19:36] Joe_Francica> 1Yes, but Clancy might have been a good one to comment about the "disputed" territories in India/Pakistan that is causing a stir.
[19:36] Jill_Freeze> Gilles, BJ's chapters were definitely harder to write though. Programming takes up loads of time that isn't always reflected in page count.
[19:36] BJHolt> remember I'm not on the inside anymore but i would guess more detail coverage from navTech in North America, Mexico amd ore Europe. Asia, Mideast, etc are big ones to crack..
[19:37] Joe_Francica> Does that mean that GDT will not be the vendor for street centerlines?
[19:38] EricFrost> I don't think there would be ever be an Asian version of MapPoint because they would just pirate it widely... maybe years from now when you can get copyright enforced ? Im just thinking like a product manager..
[19:38] BJHolt> GDT is a valued vendor and I doubt they would go away. Of all the relatuionships I had with vendors when I was a product planner/bus dev I valued them most.
[19:38] BJHolt> The problem is no single vendor can provide 6.4 million miles of routable streets and roads today.
[19:39] BJHolt> Eric i was a Product manager and i'm not sure I ever learned to think like one! :-)
[19:39] Joe_Francica> Who is in charge of integrating the databases?
[19:40] BJHolt> In the US today you have NavTech, GDT and Etak. They all have a tremendous task still ahead of them to build the perfect dataset and they all have goods and bads.
[19:40] BJHolt> The integration of the maps at MS is done by the map data and systems team. i was the Lead Program MANAGER OF THE TEAM THREE YEARS AGO.
[19:41] BJHolt> It's about 40-45 dev. cartography and test folks.
[19:41] BJHolt> They live and breath GIS.
[19:41] Joe_Francica> OK, that explains why you need so many people in your group.
[19:41] KlausObd> and they do a very good job, i think
[19:42] BJHolt> The entire MP team is a very small MS org.
[19:42] Joe_Francica> That's good to hear that MS has got GIS religion.
[19:42] Joe_Francica> For MS, 40-100 people is small...for Intergraph that IS the GIS department
[19:42] BJHolt> well kind of! Think about it in that these GIS folks work hard to build an everyday business mapping app so people don't have to know GUIS.
[19:43] BJHolt> What MP is designed to provide is a tool that does not need GIS to come with it.
[19:43] Joe_Francica> There is no argument from me. I've learned about six or seven different GIS programs and none do a very good job at being user friendly.
[19:43] BJHolt> It still works for GIS types but without the extensive focused education.
[19:45] BJHolt> I like to think of slide decks as a good parellel world (pun intended). 15 years ago I drew so rough slides out on paper and then sent them off and spent bif bucks to get an Expert to turn them into slides.
[19:45] BJHolt> I then got stuck with this carresel for the next year.
[19:45] BJHolt> Today I just do a PowerPoint?
[19:47] EricFrost> Should we call it a wrap?
[19:47] BJHolt> I'd be glad to do this again in the future.
[19:48] Jill_Freeze> Me, too (though I didn't say much this time around....)
[19:48] KlausObd> Hey, here its 3 o clock in the night, i go to bed now bye bye
[19:48] Joe_Francica> BJ, Jill, Eric..its been fun. Remember to read Directions Magazine...tell a friend. Stop by to Geodezix.com as well...take care...
[19:48] BJHolt> bye. check out dataweave.com for more on MP for Dummies.
[19:48] EricFrost> Thanks everyone for joining in! This was fun and a I hope many in the community had some questioned answered.. Feel free to stick around.
[19:49] Gilles> Getting sleepy here as well. Enjoyed the chat, and would like to talk to you all again - let us know on the group, Eric !
[19:49] Jill_Freeze> Thanks, everybody. It was fun! Take care!
[19:49] KlausObd> Thanks and bye
[19:51] Gilles> Goodnite everybody !
[19:51] EricFrost> nite Gilles :-)
[19:51] BJHolt> Elvis is leaving the building!
[19:51] BJHolt> Thank you Thank you very much....
[19:51] EricFrost> Thanks for staying up so late.. maybe we can do it earlier in the future..
[19:51] Jill_Freeze> Thank you, thank you very much, Elvis!
[19:52] BJHolt> See jill and I think alike on the humor!
[19:52] Gilles> Goodnite Elvis ! Goodnite John-Boy ! Goodnite Mary-Ellen. (Another obscure reference ...)
[19:52] Jill_Freeze> I was thinking that, too! See what writing a book together does to people?!?
[19:52] BJHolt> Off to a school meeting. bye..
[19:53] Jill_Freeze> Good-night Jim-Bob (I remember the Walton's, too, Gilles
[19:53] EricFrost> Good night..

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