Bing Maps Gets An Overhaul…And, Some New Features

If you visited Bing Maps today you may have noticed a new look and feel. Well, that’s because it has a new look and feel. Specifically, the navigation bar is now black to match the Bing color set. Well, that’s the obvious change; however, I’ll go ahead and provide you with a list of new features you may not notice right off the bat.

  • Bing Maps Draggable RoutesDraggable Routes – Yes! This is a great (and much requested) feature added to Bing Maps allowing you to generate a route, then in the case that you need to change the route, you can simply grab any part of it and drag it to where you want the route to actually go. To use draggable routes, click the directions link in the welcome pane or the car icon near the bottom of the welcome pane. Enter a start and end, generate a route, then grab anywhere on the route to move the route line. The route will regenerate for you.
  • Zoom Bar – No longer just a zoom in and zoom out button, the zoom bar allows you to jump to specific zoom levels within predefined settings.
  • Command Parsing – Want driving directions?  Enter “Bellevue, WA to Space Needle” in the Bing Maps search box.  Want traffic info?  Enter “Seattle Traffic” in the Bing Maps search box.
  • Embed a Map – You can now take a map view right from Bing Maps and embed it into your site. 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.

 

  • Dynamic Compute – We’ve moved the processing power closer to the user.  Using Microsoft’s ECN, we now have Bing Maps running in data centers in 7 locations around the world. This means wherever you are around the world, you will access Bing Maps from the closest geographic node to where you are physically located. 
  • New Navigation – We also added a subset of features to a button bar along the bottom of the welcome pane. Each button loads features on Bing Maps. Welcome loads the welcome pane; the car loads the route planner; the star loads My Places, formerly called Collections; the envelop loads the ability to share the map with someone via email, copying a URI or embedding the map into a web page (more on that below); the printer icon is for printing; and, stoplight will load a traffic overlay with flow and incident information. 
  • World Wrap – no longer will your Bing Maps experience stop at the international date line. Keep going around, and around, and around…
  • Diet Bing Maps – The default Bing Maps home page dropped from 678kb to 484kb. It zips through the pipes much faster now.

 

 

Bing Maps New Navigation

 

Some nice improvements to the already feature-packed consumer site. What could possibly be next? 

CP – Follow me on Twitter @ChrisPendleton

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43 comments
  1. jamiet

    "What could possibly be next? "

    Silverlight???

  2. nancy.natale

    Sorry Chris not happy with the updates.  I chose bing because it was one of the easiest. I was happy with the printing of the maps before the updates.  Still having a problem.  Not able to print my maps.  Trying to follow directions but having no luck.  

  3. ericwfrost

    Draggable routes are cool.

    I didn't realize it, but it looks like this is also a new feature of MapPoint 2010!

    Click on the route and drag to some location, it adds a stop.

    I tried to do it in MapPoint 2004 and MapPoint 2009 but I can't get it to work. You would have to somewhat manually add the stop. Not onerous, but it's a couple more steps.

    Eric

    http://www.MapForums.com

  4. AMJ

    Chris, are the draggable routes enabled in the AJAX or Silverlight controls for developers or just on the Bing maps consumer website?

  5. Dave

    Now OFFICIALLY the best maps interface on the internet. When you roll out Silverlight it's just going to blow the competition out of the water.

  6. Nikhil

    But stil india version of bing maps shows older version.! When you gonna update indian version as wel..

  7. nancy.natale

    Chris-with the printing of the maps why can't I just map what I have and just print them.  What is this web page they are talking about?  The maps I created I just saved in my account and all I needed to do was print them when ever I needed them.

  8. pramilk

    Directions now also support Business searches like "Hotels in New York". So, now you can enter business directly into the directions input boxes.

    Also, Now in the main search box we can do "Seattle to portland" directly.

  9. Wild Typhoon 87

    Will the "get directions pane" be moveable again. I do not like that it is now either opened or closed, it used to be draggable to almost any length.

  10. FaisalAYaz

    well well well, that's great mates, we are here to support Bing, i know Bing still needs massive improvement,

    Bing Team there is a looooooooooooooooooooooong way here, I'm with you.

    Thanks

  11. sstchur

    @wild typhoon:  It's a tough situation.  Stats shows that very very few people utilized the "draggable to any length" feature, which is why it was cut in favor of something simpler.  Obviously that won't please everyone (you obviously liked the old design), but we strive for the highest use-case scenario.

    I wrote that "draggable to any length" feature too, so it was a little sad to see it yanked out :-(  But I'm okay with the new design too, because truth be told, I didn't utilize the draggability much at all!

  12. sstchur

    @wild typhoon:  It's a tough situation.  Stats shows that very very few people utilized the "draggable to any length" feature, which is why it was cut in favor of something simpler.  Obviously that won't please everyone (you obviously liked the old design), but we strive for the highest use-case scenario.

    I wrote that "draggable to any length" feature too, so it was a little sad to see it yanked out :-(  But I'm okay with the new design too, because truth be told, I didn't utilize the draggability much at all!

  13. Kit

    The problem is when you right click the map, the red dot is offset from the actual location of the click which is very annoying.

    The search feature is terrible as well, it never successfully recognize any non-us address for me… Maybe I should use other versions but I think it's very annoying that the experience is incomplete.

  14. Chris Pendleton

    @Andrew,

    Just the consumer site.

    CP

  15. sa.casey

    erm, is this another US-only set of features?

    just tried using bingmaps.com.au and the route doesnt even follow the road nevermind being able to drag the route!

  16. Pradeep

    i want indian maps should be updated..maps of india are too old..

  17. Pradeep

    i want indian maps should be updated..maps of india are too old..

  18. arjan

    Chris,

    I like the features a lot, nut also the fact that the map seems bigger, at least higher.

    One more feature request, something that I've never seen on any other map, but that should be cool.

    You can scroll the map from left to right over the dateline, but why can't you scroll the map over the poles ?

    That would be really cool and would eleminate all edges..

  19. jamiet

    Chris,

    Bit of feedback for you. I like the fact that you now include the option to show the London tube map but annoyingly it only shows up when I'm zoomed to street level, as soon as I zoom out it disappears – that's not good. I want to (at least) see it at "City" zoom level.

    Another slight annoyance is that if I display the tube map, scroll out and then scroll back in I need to drag the map ever so slightly to make the tube map show up again. What's up with that?

    cheers

    Jamie

  20. julianskeels

    @jamiet – great feedback, we definitely want to make the tube layer available at more levels. We'll also have a look to see if we can repro the bug you mention

  21. jamiet

    Julian,

    No probs, I'm using IE6 (not my choice) in case that helps!

    -Jamie

    P.S. Just sent you a message on twitter as well!!

  22. dseidensticker

    I just tried to embed a map into my website. It worked…sort of. The embeded maps appears, but the content from my collection is not there.  If I click "View Larger Map", the content from my collection does appear on that map though. Anyone else having this problem?

  23. rtmyers21

    When will Birds Eye view be up and running again?

  24. bmapper

    I don't see the "Map All" feature any more that would take you to the smallest zoom level that still shows all of the items in a collection. Am I not looking in the right place or was the feature removed?

  25. arjan

    Chris,

    Another feature that I would like, is an extra button (icon) with the Info ([i]) symbol (next to the welcome, print, … icons).

    When clicking on that one you can choose Info overlays. Like public transport (London tube), Wikipedia articles, hotels, restaurants, etc.

    More or less like it's done on Multimap

  26. TTT

    @rtmyers21:  Birds Eye is still available.  The Aerial control has a dropdown when you hover over it.  Note that you also have to be zoomed in far enough for it to be active.

  27. dbooth

    With the new version of Bing, when you add objects to the map and then switch to Birds Eye, the program freezes up and stops responding – i.e. you cannot zoom and pan in Birds Eyes. Try drawing some long lines around a geographic area, save them in My Places, then try and move around the area in Birds Eye view. It's a huge drop in performance from the old version, in face it's pretty much unusable now.

  28. samoen

    i like the improvements. one thing though, the task area toggle icon is hard to see on a transparent background. it's impossible to find if you didn't know it was there on road map view and still difficult to see amidst the white city name text in aerial view. i found it eventually, but others might have a harder time.

  29. Nathanael

    Hi, Chris,

    This is a nice touch up. I had been working on a video tour on the 9th and earlier on the 10th and was surprised when going to edit the tour further on the 10th to find that the interface had changed, but I like the simplicity and fresh icons all around, including the pushpins, etc.

    Two complaints:

    1) The options for Bing Maps 3D are gone.

    2) Bird's Eye View imagery is not visible for me in 3D on any computer that I have tested on. I've tried the last release of the control before it was rebranded with the 'bing' logo as well as the current installer (which I understand to be identical except for the missing realtime weather ) but both versions of the 3D control report "Bird's eye images are not available here".

    I fully expect to see the Bing Maps Silverlight Control put into play soon along with embedded geo-aligned Photosynth support and am very impatient for that to release, however… if this means the end of support for the Direct3D Map Control, then it's time to rethink a few things. I'm as eager as anyone for the 3D map control to be cross platform and browser agnostic, but you made it quite clear in your session at MIX09 that Silverlight just wasn't yet up to the task of delivering a 3D globe (or globes).

    I've watched the progress in the Worldwide Telescope web client with a fair degree of interest. While the performance there is not exactly delightful, it is, I suppose, functional, the major caveat being that it doesn't appear to stream in more detailed elevation models along with the more detailed satellite imagery as you zoom in. Presumably if you can use a low poly mesh to approximate a globe at worldwide scale, you can also afford to load in complex polygonal meshes for the small portions that are within the viewport at any given time, since that team seems to have already conquered the problem of mapping a dzi tileset onto a multi polygonal surface (an area that many a developer seems to fail when attempting to utilise the hardware accelerated perspective transforms in Silverlight 3).

    My question is, "If Bing Maps chooses this point as the point at which it chooses to deprecate the Direct3D Virtual Earth control and use only Silverlight as a means of accessing Bing Maps 3D, is it ready to face the backlash that the Photosynth team experienced earlier this year?". If the Bing Maps team uses a similar tactic to what the Photosynth team implemented, wherein the Direct3D viewer remains accessible as all current and future development shifts to a Silverlight viewer (but while Silverlight performance remains sub-par to what Direct3D delivers), will we see geo-aligned Photosynths within the Direct3D Virtual Earth plugin, utilising the Direct3D Photosynth viewer?

  30. Nathanael

    The fact that the Bing Maps Silverlight Control, freshly out of CTP, remains 2D-only on every public-facing implementation that I have seen does seem to rain on the idea of the Direct3D Map Control being retired just yet but its options being ripped out of the interface and Bird's Eye View simply refusing to work in it any more made me wary of its demise.

    I second bmapper's complaint that the 'Map All' feature was removed. That was most useful.

  31. hbfrancis

    Are you planning on bringing back the Bird's Eye maps to the 3D viewer? IMO, the bird's eye choices were far more useful than the 3D viewer when mapping larger.

    I'm excited about the share option with embeddable maps.

  32. delawarebeer

    Is there a way to minimize the completely annoying window pane on the right side of the screen?  I'd like to see more than a sliver of my map.

  33. delawarebeer

    Sorry meant to say the annoying pane on the _left side_ of the screen.  Users need to have the option of getting rid of that puppy.

  34. dunclaw

    3D settings are available under the right-mouse context menu when in 3D mode.

    Bird's eye display in 3D is experiencing some issues at the moment, but should be working again shortly.

  35. dbooth

    I posted previously about Bing map performance slowing to a crawl or freezing up altogether as soon as you add some geometry to the map and save it in My Places, that's a huge problem in this new version, again makes adding any geometry to the map useless, since that's the end of being able to move around the map.

    The draggable routes feature is cool, but too bad you can't save the routes you create using the Driving Directions tool in My Places, makes the whole thing rather useless again. I can have the program create a route for me, but am unable to save it? Why not? Oh well…back to Google Earth.

  36. Nathanael

    @dunclaw: Many thanks for the tip on the 3D Options.

    Also, Bird's Eye finally seems to be up and running in 3D, so I'm happy on that front again, as well. Great work!

    I've been wondering and perhaps if you read this, you can give me the answer. (I've already submitted feedback to this effect, but of course no one has ever replied to me.) Why, in 3D Tours can I not save my viewpoint as center of viewport and zoom level on a Bird's Eye View image? I can get share links to exact views of B.E. View imagery, so why not in 3D Tours?

    Also, why can I not use Bird's Eye View imagery as a default view for an embedded map, either in 2D or 3D? It seems like shooting yourself in the foot to me.

  37. Nathanael

    Also, big props to whoever is responsible to fixing the dragability of the 'My Places' editing pane when in 3D mode.

  38. waterpocket

    Kudos on embedded maps!  I would also like to see the option to do embedded maps that preserve links to KML and GeoRSS files, asis possible with Google Maps.  Sorry to mention that product, but perhaps it will light a fire! Thanks.

  39. NTerrio

    I like the updates! A little concerned with the following:

    I typically keep the step by step parts of the trip collasped until I'm done planning. Before the updates, the trip would stay collapsed. After update, I have to re-collapse. Small thing I know, but I use Bing Maps in my daily work so it's a big time saver.

    There used to be a Clear function. Can we get that back? I know I can click on the Welcome Page or Get Driving Directions buttons but I think the Clear function used to keep my route options and settings. Not sure, but if so, please return it!!

    Can we get the ability to manipulate the size of the My Places window? Seems a little restrictive to keep it one size. Would be nice to be able to size it up.

    Would it be possible to have a check box for "Remove Route Steps from Map"? Sometimes there are so many steps that you cannot see the Destinations.

    That's it for now — thanks for a most excellent mapping tool!

  40. eanderson

    Are these all just features added to the public bing site, or are these available via the API for developers?

    Are these things updated and available on the staging platform? We haven't seen the map control change, but would be concerned that live != staging.

    Also would like to know the API for draggable routes if there is one.

    thanks.

  41. jeffchapmanjc

    I just checked Bing Maps and cannot find the option to embed maps anywhere after clicking the Share button. I'm only seeing two options – email and copy (the URL).

  42. Chris Pendleton

    @jeffchapmanjc – Are you on the AJAX site? Once you want to embed a map and click the share button, two boxes come up – 1 with a link and 1 with EMBED code. Note, this is only available on the AJAX site.

    CP

  43. jeffchapmanjc

    Sorry – but you cannot embed Bing maps. There is no embed feature – only an email option after you click on the share button.

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