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 Tuesday - July 10, 2008
What's New at MP2K Magazine - Articles 
Welcome to another issue of the MP2Kmag Update. This issue includes nine new articles published since our last newsletter, many with sample code. Note that forum highlights are now published under a separate MapForums Newsletter, the most recent of which are archived online. To receive this monthly newsletter, you just need to register at MapForums if you aren't already registered. (If you are registered and you aren't receiving the MapForums Newsletter and would like to, let us know.)

MP2K Magazine is your source for independent news and information about MapPoint and Virtual Earth technologies and we also host the popular web forum for MapPoint users and developers ( 

In this issue we have several articles from forum regulars Richard Marsden, Wilfried Mestdagh, John Sewell, and John Meyer. Two professors, Dr. Elliot Bendoly and Dr. Rich Born, and Jon Oppelaar also contributed articles.

This Issue's Contents at a Glance
 - Excel Basics to Blackbelt: A Reference Text for MapPoint Integration, by Dr. Elliot Bendoly
 - Routene Excel and MapPoint Update, John Sewell
 - Using Virtual Earth with OpenLayers, by Richard Marsden
 - A Simple Add-in for MapPoint API Beginners, by Richard Marsden
 - The MapPoint Web Service Helper - Part II: Mobile Application Development, Dr. Richard Born
 - Handling Pushpin Collisions, by Wilfried Mestdagh
 - The MapPoint Web Service Helper - Part I: Windows and Web Applications, Dr. Richard Born
 - Automating MapPoint in C++ With Built In GPS Features Enabled, by Jon Oppelaar
 - Building an Animated Map with Flash Demo Builder, by John Meyer

Happy Mapping and please forward this newsletter to anyone who would be interested!

Eric Frost, Editor
MapPoint 2009 North America

MapPoint 2006
MP2Kmag is now taking orders for MapPoint 2009 North America along with our recently updated MapPoint Power Tools Spreadsheet for just $269.

Each order will also include a free 6 mos. premier-level membership on MapForums, the MapPoint and Virtual Earth discussion forum.

Free USPS Priority Shipping within the United States, $35 shipping to Canada, and $75 for other international orders.

Update your MapPoint maps to the latest digital map databases!

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If you have a MapPoint presentation, neat programming technique, or would simply like to share the ways in which you are using MapPoint technology or any other ideas, contact us to discuss how we can turn your knowledge into an article and share your experience with the rest of the MapPoint community of users and developers.

Thanks to Marvin Hlavac for allowing us to use the picture on the right of his Maltese puppy eating from the MapPoint mug.


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Excel Basic to Blackbelt"Excel Basics to Blackbelt": A Reference Text for MapPoint Integration

Dr. Elliot Bendoly shares information about his new textbook which includes information about integrating Excel and MapPoint.

"On a daily basis, professionals are expected to make decisions in fundamentally complex environments. "Should I recommend that my client invest in a particular developing region?" "Should I recommend an offshoring/outsourcing scenario given my expectations of how other parties are likely to act in the near term?" "Should I offer to take on additional work now that one of my current projects appears to be nearing completion?"

These aren’t simple questions, and we can’t expect individuals faced with such questions to always have immediate and appropriate answers available to them. What we "can" expect is some level of thought, and some level of a desire for assistance when good solutions are particularly needed. Where this assistance comes from can vary, but, being the eternal tool-builders that we are, we tend to find such assistance in the form of data representation, analysis and interpretation mechanisms built expressly for these purposes."

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RouteneRoutene Excel and MapPoint Update

John Sewell introduces and explains the features in the latest version of Routene, an Excel spreadsheet for of physical supply chain and logistics applications. A full version of Routene is now available for purchase. 

"Because MapPoint can be accessed programmatically either from VBA or any other programming language it is possible to use MapPoint to solve a wide range of physical supply chain questions.

As part of our business - supply chain consultancy - we have done a number of distribution network strategies; with typical components being how many distribution centres to have, where to locate them and the transport implications of running them.

We found that the off-the-shelf tools to solve this are both expensive and completely ‘black box’ - providing an answer but little explanation as to how the answer has been derived. So we started to use MapPoint driven by Excel and created Routene as an Excel add-in. Incidentally, we started in .NET but found response was too slow and the framework cumbersome. Based on David Hager’s article Excel User-Defined Functions and MapPoint, we started using VBA which was both faster and much more flexible. Excel is the ideal place to put results so you can do supplementary analysis with results; this is why we view Routene as a toolkit rather than a ‘solution’."

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OpenLayersUsing Virtual Earth with OpenLayers

This article by Richard Marsden shows you how to create a Virtual Earth base layer in an OpenLayers application. OpenLayers is an open source Javascript project which receives the layer map data from one or many different sources including WFS, Yahoo, WorldWind, Google, TileCache, TMS, and GML.

"This article shows you how to use Virtual Earth with OpenLayers. Our example is based on the maps used by the EcoMap Costa Rica project ( ), and will overlay external data on a Virtual Earth base map. Of course Virtual Earth has the ability to display a variety of formats on a base map. However OpenLayers adds many more options. For example, our overlay will be a shapefile that is supplied by MapServer as a series of WMS tiles. OpenLayers also allows us to use different base maps as appropriate. For the EcoMap Costa Rica project, Virtual Earth does an excellent job of visualizing Costa Rica and Central America, but does not currently have the detail required for the main area of study which is less than 1km in extent. By using OpenLayers we can easily re-arrange the layers to meet our specific needs.

OpenLayers is an open source Javascript project that can provide the client side of a web map application. OpenLayers handles the map-keeping operations such as zoom, pan, enable/disable layers, pop-up windows, etc. It receives the layer map data from one or many different sources. Even before we started to use different data sources, we found that OpenLayers's AJAX capabilities greatly enhanced the user experience of a MapServer map application."

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Simple MapPoint Add-in
A Simple Add-in for MapPoint API Beginners

Richard Marsden's latest article shows step by step how to create a MapPoint COM Add-in using Visual Basic to draw circles around pushpins. Includes complete source code and screenshots.

"This "How To" article was prompted by AgDawg’s post on the MapPoint forums ( Drawing Multiple Radius Circles ). It is intended to show how to create a simple add-in that uses Visual Basic 6 (VB6) – a part of Visual Studio 6. It also demonstrates pushpin processing and simple shape drawing. Namely, it draws circles of 30 miles radius around every pushpin in the ‘My Pushpins’ pushpin set.

VB6 might seem an odd choice for 2008. It is old. It is creaky. Microsoft has recently withdrawn their support. Despite this, much of the MapPoint programming documentation still uses it. It is also easy to use with MapPoint’s COM interface. C# might be a much nicer language with wonderful .NET bells and whistles, but writing a MapPoint add-in using C# is always much more work than it should be. So although serious developers should probably look at C++ or C#, VB6 is a great entry point to learning MapPoint’s API and object model. It is also cheap – Visual Studio is sufficiently out of date that sealed unopened copies are no longer in demand."

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Pushpin Tool
Working with pushpins in MapPoint? Get the MapPoint Pushpin Tool for just $75. The latest features include the ability to export lat/lon coordinates of pushpins to Excel and advanced find Pushpin functionality. Read more and purchase the tool here or go directly to paypal.

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MapPoint Web Service HelperThe MapPoint Web Service Helper - Part II: Mobile Application Development

This article describes how the MapPoint Web Service Helper can be used to quickly and easily write Visual Basic 2005 mobile applications that make use of the Microsoft MapPoint Web Service.

"This article is the second of two that will be discussing use of the MapPoint Web Service Helper. In this article we will be discussing how to develop a MapPoint Web Service Visual Basic 2005 mobile application, making use of the Helper, that could be deployed on a Pocket PC running Windows Mobile.

"Keep in mind that although this article discusses the Helper in the context of Visual Basic 2005 and the Helper was written in C#, the Helper can be used with any of the more than 20 .NET languages currently in existence. All files associated with the Helper library, including the two PowerPoints can be downloaded by going to this link at the Microsoft Academic Resource Center.

"The current version of the Helper, completed during spring 2007, provides the following methods: GetInstance, FindLocation, GetMap, GetMapURL, GetRoute, GetRouteMap, GetRouteMapURL, GetRouteDirections, RouteItineraryToText, FindNearbyPlaces, GetTrafficIncident, GetPostalCode, and GetAddress. These methods were discussed in Part I using a series of small Visual Basic 2005 applications, including four Windows and one Web application. For each application, the Helper methods required by the application were described, the Visual Basic code (replete with comments) was provided, and a graphic showing the running application was displayed. "

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Wilfried Mestdagh
Handling Pushpin Collisions

Wilfried Mestdagh shares a solution for reducing the number of pushpins that must be displayed on a map

"The question often comes up where thousands of pushpins must be displayed. However, nobody wants thousands of pushpins on the screen. So if you get that task then first rephrase the problem, that is: I have thousands pushpins, how do I make a comfortable GUI ?

"Displaying thousands of pushpins take time. To avoid this you can only display the pushpins that are in view. Another point is the collision. You really don't want to have an ugly view of lots of pushpins overlapping each other.

"In this article we describe the most simple thing to avoid collision, that is with sequentially positions as a route from a vehicle. In a future article we describe other possible approach needed for non sequentially positions.

"You really don't want to display an ugly screen like the one above. Instead you calculate the distance between each pushpin, get the distance of 1 pixel, and leave preferable 20 pixels between each pushpin. This must be recalculated at every pan or zoom of the map."

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Programming MapPoint in .NET

Programming MapPoint in .NET
Chandu Thota's New Book from O'Reilly Press
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The first and only book in print on programming MapPoint technologies. The book includes sections on MapPoint 2004, the MapPoint Web Service, MapPoint Location Server, and Virtual Earth. The books is 354 pages chock full of programming examples and map screenshots. For example, the book spends 40 pages discussing in depth the various Data Map styles in MapPoint 2004, dissects the DisplayDataMap method in detail, and has a number of examples of importing data from various sources. There are over 100 pages on the MapPoint Web Service including sections on the Find, Route, and Render API's. Inquire about international shipping and multiple copy discounts.

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The MapPoint Web Service Helper - Part I: Windows and Web Applications

This article describes how the MapPoint Web Service Helper can be used to quickly and easily write Visual Basic 2005 Windows and Web applications that make use of the Microsoft MapPoint Web Service.

"Programming with the MapPoint Web Service directly can be extremely challenging and comes with a significant learning curve. With this concern in mind, Martin Schray, Central and Western US Academic Developer Evangelism Manager for Microsoft, and I have collaborated on the development of the MapPoint Web Service Helper. Martin has created the MapPoint Web Service Helper Class Library, with ongoing discussions with me about the functionality that it should provide. Meanwhile, I have developed two PowerPoint presentations discussing how this library can be used in developing Visual Basic 2005 Windows and Web applications.

"The MapPoint Web Service Helper (we’ll call it the Helper for short) was designed to provide an easy-to-use interface to the MapPoint Web Service that doesn’t require a large learning curve. Many parameters provided by the MapPoint Web Service are hidden from the user, and returns from one method can be used to feed the next. You can find locations, render maps, retrieve driving directions, find points of interest (e.g. ATM, Banks, Gas Stations...) and even get real time traffic information. Especially nice is the fact that you can do these things for Windows, Web, and mobile applications with the Helper. In a nutshell, the Helper significantly simplifies access to the MapPoint Web Service Find, Render, and Route services by providing a simple API with just a few core arguments."

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Jonathan Oppelaar
Automating MapPoint in C++ With Built In GPS Features Enabled

Jonathan Oppelaar shows how he used techniques to overcome limitations in the MapPoint API to make MapPoint a better navigation platform for Project54, a in-car law enforcement system currently in use in over 1,000 vehicles.

"Project54 is currently developing a GPS Navigation application to be used in police cruisers. This navigation application is using MapPoint 2006 as its routing and mapping engine. MapPoint 2006 has an SDK which gives developers software control of MapPoint. With this SDK Project54 developers are able to integrate MapPoint into the Project54 system. However, there are a few limitations to MapPoint’s SDK that need to be resolved before MapPoint can be installed in a car. The first limitation is that there are no API calls to turn GPS Tracking on or off. GPS Tracking is a MapPoint feature that reads data from a GPS receiver and displays your current position on the map. This feature also has the ability to rotate the map, which cannot be done via APIs.

"Driving Guidance is another MapPoint feature that cannot be controlled by the SDK. Driving Guidance displays turn by turn directions while a user is driving along a route. These directions are also presented to the user through speech. A status bar is shown to keep the user up to date with progress on a certain road segment.

"These limitations must be overcome if we want to use MapPoint as the navigation backbone in the Project54 system. This article is about my workaround to MapPoint’s SDK that allows developers to enable MapPoint’s GPS Tracking and Driving Guidance."

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Building an Animated Map with Flash Demo Builder

John Meyer shows how to create an animated Flash map using MapPoint and Flash Demo Builder. This can be used for demonstrations and allows interactive capability with the map.

"Flash Demo Builder program is very easy to learn and use and the price is a very reasonable $99.99.

"While I’ve created this demo of driving directions showing a car traveling to a specific location the possibilities for uses of this program are many.

"Tutorials would seem to be the original purpose of such a program but when combined with Map software such as MapPoint now you are just showing off!

This program comes with demos of its own to get you started with your first project and it really is very easy to create demo from scratch. I started the Flash Demo Builder program and choose New Presentation | Create from screen capture."

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Look forward to upcoming issues in which we focus on recent MapPoint and Virtual Earth news and share forum highlights.

Previous issues of the MP2Kmag Update are available in the newsletter archive.

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