Microsoft Overhauls, Gives New Features to Bing Maps
Article by George Norman
On 11 Nov 2009
Earlier this month the Redmond-based software giant gave MSN its first proper overhaul in over a decade. The new MSN design is less cluttered, streamlined to let the user more easily navigate through the content, and puts an emphasis on Microsoft’s decision engine Bing. Speaking of Microsoft’s decision engine (not search engine), Bing Maps’ looks and feel have been changed also.

The most noticeable change applies to the navigation bar – it is now black. According to Bing Maps Technical Evangelist, Chris Pendleton, the navigation bar’s color has been changed to black to “match the Bing color set.” There are other changes that you may not notice right away. Here is a detailed list:
  • The much requested Draggable Routes feature has finally been added to Bing Maps. Users can now generate a route, and if they want to change it, they can simply drag any part of the route to where they want to go. The Draggable Routes feature can be used by clicking the car icon at the bottom or by clicking the directions link in the welcome pane.
  • The Zoom Bar used to zoom in and zoom out. Users can now jump to specific zoom levels.
  • Command parsing goodness
To get driving directions from Bellevue, WA to Space Needle for example, just type in “Bellevue, WA to Space Needle” in the search box.
To get traffic information for say Seattle, type in “Seattle Traffic” in the search box.
  • Bing Maps runs data centers in 7 locations around the world. Users will be directed to the nearest geographical node.
  • The Bing Map experience no longer stops at the international date line
  • The default Bing Maps homepage weighs in at 484kb now, not 678kb.
  • New button bar has been added (located to the bottom left hand side of the window). Each button loads a specific feature:
Welcome button -> Welcome pane
Car button -> Route planner
Star button -> My Places (formerly Collections).
Envelop button -> Share map
Printer button -> Print
Stoplight -> Traffic overlay
  • It is now possible to embed Bing Maps onto your site.
Chris Pendleton explains: “To do this, you’ll want to click the Share button once your map is where you want it to be. You can copy the embed code from there; or, you can click the Customize View link which will take you to the embeddable map customizer (EMC). The EMC allows you to set a map to the map height and width (small, medium, large or custom); the map type (static or draggable); the map styles (road, aerial, aerial w/ labels); and, add links to Bing Maps for Viewing a Larger Map or Getting Directions. Once you’ve set everything the way you want it, click Generate Code and boom! there’s your code. You copy it, then paste it into your web page and you’ll have the map you wanted.”

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Tags: Bing, Bing Maps, Microsoft
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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