Duncan Lawler - Virtual Earth 3D: What. How. Why.

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Virtual Earth is now in 3D! Here, Charles chats with Duncan Lawler, Development Manager on the Virtual Earth team. His team of sharpshooter developers have written a fully managed API that will render any type of coordinate data into 3-D space. You can program against a scriptable API or you can create applications on top of the VE 3-D platform from any managed language in VS 2005. Very cool stuff... Tune in.

When you're done here, head over to check out on10's coverage of VE3D.

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    The Discussion

    • User profile image
      dentaku
      The XBOX 360 controller support is great. I just installed it and it works very well.
      Unfortunately my DSL connection isn't as fast at the network at MS so the data doesn't load quite as smoothly as it did in this video.

      This HAS to be re-renamed Virtual Earth.
      live.local.com tells me nothing about the product and is VERY hard to remember.
    • User profile image
      figuerres
      dentaku wrote:
      The XBOX 360 controller support is great. I just installed it and it works very well.
      Unfortunately my DSL connection isn't as fast at the network at MS so the data doesn't load quite as smoothly as it did in this video.

      This HAS to be re-renamed Virtual Earth.
      live.local.com tells me nothing about the product and is VERY hard to remember.


      Amen, QFT and so on...

      got to get a decent domainname!

      live.earth.com would be better than local.com

    • User profile image
      Jack Poison
      dentaku wrote:
      The XBOX 360 controller support is great. I just installed it and it works very well.
      Unfortunately my DSL connection isn't as fast at the network at MS so the data doesn't load quite as smoothly as it did in this video.

      This HAS to be re-renamed Virtual Earth.
      live.local.com tells me nothing about the product and is VERY hard to remember.


      LOL You mean local.live.com.. Wink

      One more reason to re-name it.

      "Hey, friends, check this cool thing out! It's so neat! 3D Maps! Just go to local dot live dot com, and you'll see it.."

      compared to

      "Hey, friends, check out Google Earth. It's so cool!"  (Search for Google Earth on Google, and its the first result returned)

      Guess what people will remember?



      For what it's worth: I vote to change it back to Virtual Earth... If the web site isn't taken.
    • User profile image
      dentaku
      Jack Poison wrote:
      
      dentaku wrote: The XBOX 360 controller support is great. I just installed it and it works very well.
      Unfortunately my DSL connection isn't as fast at the network at MS so the data doesn't load quite as smoothly as it did in this video.

      This HAS to be re-renamed Virtual Earth.
      live.local.com tells me nothing about the product and is VERY hard to remember.


      LOL You mean local.live.com..

      One more reason to re-name it.

      "Hey, friends, check this cool thing out! It's so neat! 3D Maps! Just go to local dot live dot com, and you'll see it.."

      compared to

      "Hey, friends, check out Google Earth. It's so cool!"  (Search for Google Earth on Google, and its the first result returned)

      Guess what people will remember?



      For what it's worth: I vote to change it back to Virtual Earth... If the web site isn't taken.


      HA! That proves my point.

      Actually http://www.virtualearth.com redirects to http://local.live.com/ anyway
    • User profile image
      jsampsonPC
      Wasn't it MS who hosted Terra-Server? Why not scrap that old app and call this the upgrade? Smiley
    • User profile image
      Minh
      Huge potential. Might be the only reason I'm using IE  Smiley

       One obvious bug I found is:




      The pushpin is obscured by the globe's Z-buffer whereas, it should be an overlay?

      PS. It's great that you duplicated World Wind functionality in 6 MB instead of 200
    • User profile image
      Dumbledore

      When they advertised "new dimension in search", I couldn't guess that they mean it "Literally"

      Nice upgrade though.

    • User profile image
      AIM48
      Hmmm... so many possibilites.

      Once the controler model is exposed there would be so much you can do -

      For example - a real autoracing game - race thru the REAL streets of the city.

      Or a controler that has real aerodynamics built in...

      And if the 3d models on the map support hit testing... You'd be able to detect collisions with buildings around the airport etc...

    • User profile image
      DigitalDud

      Memory usage gets really high here to the point where my machine starts thrashing. (1 gig of RAM)

    • User profile image
      Xaero_​Vincent
      This seems to be Microsoft's answer to Google Earth and quite redundent if you ask me. The only difference seems to be that Virtual Earth 3D integrates into Live Search as a web service; whereas Google Earth is a client app?

      Google Earth now has the major advantage of natively running on Windows, OS X, Linux, and FreeBSD.


      Regards,
      Vincent
    • User profile image
      Rory
      Xaero_Vincent wrote:
      This seems to be Microsoft's answer to Google Earth and quite redundent if you ask me.

      Google Earth now has the major advantage of natively running on Windows, OS X, Linux, and FreeBSD.


      Regards,
      Vincent


      Linux is redundant.

      Already had Unix. Already had other operating systems.

      Don't need Linux.

      (Do you see how tiring comments like these can get? Do we need them in every thread?)
    • User profile image
      Xaero_​Vincent
      Rory wrote:
      
      Linux is redundant.

      Already had Unix. Already had other operating systems.

      Don't need Linux.

      (Do you see how tiring comments like these can get? Do we need them in every thread?)


      We dont need Windows either. Smiley

      Anyway...

      In my opinion, cross-platform support is a key advantage when competiting products rival eachother otherwise.


      Regards,
      Vincent
    • User profile image
      Rory
      Xaero_Vincent wrote:
      
      Rory wrote: 
      Linux is redundant.

      Already had Unix. Already had other operating systems.

      Don't need Linux.

      (Do you see how tiring comments like these can get? Do we need them in every thread?)


      We dont need Windows either.

      Anyway...

      In my opinion, cross-platform support is a key advantage when competiting products rival eachother otherwise.


      1. About Windows, yeah - right. My point was that you can talk about redundancies all you want, but it'll go both ways on both sides of the fence. Anyway, when someone else does what we do, it's called "competition" - but when we do something similar (and better) than someone else, it's called "redundant." That's really stupid.

      2. Your opinion has been noted. Considering that this is a desktop app, and considering that Linux and FreeBSD have extremely little desktop market penetration, I don't think it's a big deal. And OS X users are used to being left out (I know - I'm one of 'em).
    • User profile image
      Xaero_​Vincent
      Rory wrote:
      (and better)


      Thats purely subjective and expected from a biased employee. Smiley

      Rory wrote:

      2. Your opinion has been noted. Considering that this is a desktop app, and considering that Linux and FreeBSD have extremely little desktop market penetration, I don't think it's a big deal. And OS X users are used to being left out (I know - I'm one of 'em).


      Thanks for noting it. If Linux and FreeBSD werent so insignificant, your excuse would be as vague as your remark about Mac OS X, correct?


      Regards,
      Vincent
    • User profile image
      aaronse

      Pretty...

       

      Reusable...

      <html><script src="http://dev.virtualearth.net/mapcontrol/v4/mapcontrol.js" >var map;</script><body onload="(map = new VEMap('myMap')).LoadMap(new VELatLong(47.621811, -122.349057), 19, 'h', false, VEMapMode.Mode3D, true);"><div id='myMap' style="position:relative;  width:1024px;height:768px;"></div></body></html>

      Cool!

    • User profile image
      Rory
      Xaero_Vincent wrote:
      
      Rory wrote: (and better)


      Thats purely subjective and expected from a biased employee.


      Unlike your opinion, right?

      I suppose that yours is somehow a much more objective point of view.

      That's expected from the utterly self-righteous. Smiley

      Xaero_Vincent wrote:
      

      Rory wrote:
      2. Your opinion has been noted. Considering that this is a desktop app, and considering that Linux and FreeBSD have extremely little desktop market penetration, I don't think it's a big deal. And OS X users are used to being left out (I know - I'm one of 'em).


      Thanks for noting it. If Linux and FreeBSD werent so insignificant, your excuse would be as vague as your remark about Mac OS X, correct?


      I honestly don't know what you mean by this.

      Either way, are you through hijacking this thread? It's supposed to be about a new product and the people who built it - not another pointless whining thread about MS vs. OSS vs. Apple vs. MS vs. OSS.
    • User profile image
      Human​Compiler
      Fantastic!  I love using it with the Xbox controller and honestly find the keyboard/mouse combo to be very clunky and not that usuable.  It's too bad there isn't a way to configure how it works with a keyboard/mouse.  I'd love to set it up like an FPS so I could fly through it easier.  Definitely great stuff though!
    • User profile image
      Massif
      I have a question - why is there a giant advert for a Nissan Sentra floating in space just here.

      That's pretty confusing.
    • User profile image
      muad
      If you can select a DS, then it would be very cool to use this control to render MMPOG's! You could show a topdown view of a games world or (now) a 3D one!

      Just a through after the comments about a mashup - do any of the xbox games have that data exposed so someone could do that? I'm out of touch with games these days, but assuming you can get some map data from it, you could plot a lot on there! Where people are, where points of interest in the game are; maybe clans or groups could plot routes for adventures or something like that?! (Random thoughts coming from my brain)

      I think this is a really great control!
    • User profile image
      Xaero_​Vincent
      Rory wrote:
      
      I suppose that yours is somehow a much more objective point of view.


      Why yes. I clearly stated an advantage. After all, there are only hundreds of millions people in the world who use other platforms besides Windows.

      Rory wrote:
      
      I honestly don't know what you mean by this.


      It means that even if these platforms had greater marketshare, you would devise the same or simular remark when questioned as to why it still remained Windows-centric.


      Regards,
      Vincent
    • User profile image
      Minh
      I know this is only a beta, but the install experience is very poor when you have FireFox as your default browser:

      * IE downloads & execute Setup.exe
      * FireFox opens up in the background & downloads the .msi (w/out installing it)


      Also # 2, I have a machine w/ a restricted account (non-Admin) and haven't gotten it to work yet. I ran IE in a raised-priviledge too (MakeMeAdmin script) but no luck.
    • User profile image
      jsampsonPC
      When will I be able to pull this into a Desktop Application and have it automatically display geographical information extracted from my datasource? Smiley
    • User profile image
      Charles
      jsampsonPC wrote:
      When will I be able to pull this into a Desktop Application and have it automatically display geographical information extracted from my datasource?


      When you download the SDK and use it......
      C
    • User profile image
      dlcRno
      Cool.  Can it read from local datasources such as ESRI's shape or more importantly SDE?
    • User profile image
      the_corona
      It looks really cool, from the video and all and I'd love nothing more but to try it out.

      Except I can't use it.

      Doesnt work in FF...ok, it's activeX, fine (btw I thought this was being abonded?)...so I fire up IE and it tells me after downloading a setup.exe in IE installing that, then firing up FF and downloading a MSI that my locale is not supported? I'm using german XP SP2 here, but come on? Let me install the english version I don't mind, but at least let me bloddy install it. Show me a warning or something.

      Dissapointed not about the product but that I can't use it. It sure seems awesome....
    • User profile image
      Kevin Daly

      I can't even try it out from here...the install of the control fails with a message saying it's currently not available for my language or region.

      I don't *expect* to be able to see my part of the world in glorious 3D just now, I just wanted to look at the rest, play with the API, gaze in awe at 3D globe (the Earth was, last I knew, not US-specific).

      And is a 3D mapping control really going to choke on New Zealand English?

      Chalk up one for geographical chauvinism.

      [C]

    • User profile image
      Koogle
      Great Stuff guys... sure does lay the smackdown on Google Earth for the time being.

      Personally I was wondering why you guys couldn't have released a separate client like the Google Earth application to view in 3d. I mean its great that you get it working in browser, but we still have to install stuff so its not all seamless, so why not a the separate client?. Also it seems a little stuttery in performance, like it'll be smooth, then pause, smooth again.. I rather just have a constant low fps then that.

      also agree about the domain names, i often forget it if its live.local.com local.live.com.. of course I don't anymore Smiley

      Will there be support for other controllers?
    • User profile image
      eddwo

      I had a bit of a poke around with Reflector, and the Microsoft.MapPoint.MapControl3D.MapControl class that implements the 3D view does in fact derive from System.Windows.Forms.Control, so it ought to fit right in in a .net app.

      It probably goes against the license agreement though, I think officially you are only supposed to use it by embedding a webbrowser control and accessing it via the Javascript API.

      Anyone want to give it a try?

    • User profile image
      Koogle

      Also I was thinking maybe you could add some aeroplanes or a cockpit view Big Smile 

      Its quicker to load this up and get better satellite imagery then it is to load up FSX and start a quick flight around my neighbourhood Big Smile

    • User profile image
      cro
      Virtual Earth 3D (Beta) currently does not support your region or language. Thanks for your patience.

      Is there a way to force the installation ?
    • User profile image
      eddwo
      Well it works as expected. just add a reference to:
      %windir%\assembly\GAC_MSIL\Microsoft.MapPoint.Rendering3D\1.0.610.27003__31bf3856ad364e35\Microsoft.MapPoint.Rendering3D.dll

      add a GlobeControl to a form and away you go.

      At the moment it isn't loading in any data, but thats probably just a matter of setting up the data source properly.

    • User profile image
      Human​Compiler
      Nice, eddwo...post something when you've got it using a datasource too.  Smiley
    • User profile image
      Minh
      cro wrote:
      Virtual Earth 3D (Beta) currently does not support your region or language. Thanks for your patience.

      Is there a way to force the installation ?
      You can use orca to remove the locale requirements
    • User profile image
      jason818_25​3.33
      Love'n it!
    • User profile image
      B_e_l_i_e_v​_er
      How did you manage to add that reference, I cant find anyway of clicking on that directory and no way of actually typing in that reference. I can see its there but cant figure out how to add a reference to it

      Little help please...
    • User profile image
      dunclaw
      Lots of issues in these threads, I'll try to answer what I can.

      About the site URI:
      With this release, the URI for the site is switching to maps.live.com.  The Virtual earth branding for the 3D view will be much more prominent.

      ActiveX:
      An earlier post said the 3D view was an ActiveX control.  This is incorrect.  Virtual Earth 3D is a managed control, which is a different beast entirely.  We have all of the built-in CLR code access security to help prevent attacks.
      We also mark it COM visible to allow native applications to easily use it.

      Lack of Firefox support:
      We would like to make the control available as broadly as possible, so we're looking into what this would take.  FF doesn't support loading managed controls natively.  With the FF ActiveX plug-in, you may be able to call the COM interface (we haven't tried yet).
      This is just the first beta release, so there's lots more to come.

      Running in browser vs. standalone app.
      Initially we were working on a standalone app, but the integration with the browser made a much more seamless user experience.  By developing this as a manged control, we can run in the browser, and easily create a standalone application later that uses the same control.

      Using the control in a managed app:
      This is definitely something we will be supporting in the future, we just didn't have time to document and usability test the managed interface yet.
      If you want to see an example winforms app, check David Buerer's blog http://heptazane.spaces.live.com/

      International support
      This will be coming soon, it just wasn't quite ready yet.
    • User profile image
      androidi
      Just me or does D have some resemblance with Scott Bakula? Big Smile
    • User profile image
      eddwo
      B_e_l_i_e_v_er wrote:
      How did you manage to add that reference, I cant find anyway of clicking on that directory and no way of actually typing in that reference. I can see its there but cant figure out how to add a reference to it

      Little help please...


      I browsed to the assembly through the command line to find out the path, then copied and pasted that into the filename field of the add reference dialog.

      According to this the best way to do it at the moment is to manually edit the csproj file to include it.

      I couldn't add the control to the toolbox this way, I had to add it to the form manually by editing the designer.cs file.

      (It might be best not to display the control at design time, just add a panel to describe its intended position on the form, then add code to instanciate the control, add it to the form, and dock it inside the panel outside of the InitializeComponent method so it only executes at run time. This will stop VS2005 going to 100% CPU)

      My screenshot actually shows the Microsoft.MapPoint.MapControl3D.MapControl control, rather than its base class Microsoft.MapPoint.Rendering3D.GlobeControl.

      The GlobeControl itself class doesn't have the  compass Controller UI or VirtualEarth markings.

      What will the delivery vehicle/ licenseing of the managed control be?

      I imagine use of the VirtualEarth tile service will require a MapPoint.Net contract, but if you plan to use your own datasource will the control itself be free or will you need a MapPoint desktop license to install it on a client machine for a commercial application?

      Any hint on when a supported SDK for the managed control will be available?
    • User profile image
      cro
      Thanks Minh! I have been able to install it.

      Except for the DEM, the only thing that I was able to see in 3D was the Status of Liberty. Any idea ?
    • User profile image
      CRPietschma​nn

      How does one use the managed map control within a managed desktop app? Where can it be downloaded from?

    • User profile image
      Minh
      cro wrote:
      Thanks Minh! I have been able to install it.

      Except for the DEM, the only thing that I was able to see in 3D was the Status of Liberty. Any idea ?
      Can you see roads & stuff? I know only major cities get the 3D models & birds-eye-view. So if you don't see roads & stuff, they're probably filtering it based on IP address.
    • User profile image
      cro

      In hybrid mode I can view road and other information. The bird eye view also work fine. Strange...

    • User profile image
      dunclaw
      We're working on getting a managed SDK available as soon as possible, we know there are a lot of people looking for it.

      The licensing will probably be similar to the jscript map control.

      GlobeControl is the right one to use for your managed apps.  The intent is that MapControl3D will be a filtered subset of methods that controls what is exposed to scripting.  GlobeControl will contain all the methods.
    • User profile image
      B_e_l_i_e_v​_er
      Thanks alot eddwo, I thought it must be somthing like that. Thans for the info.
    • User profile image
      Kevin Daly

      I see from the Virtual Earth team blog (which I can't reply to because it keeps returning a server error) that

      a) the language/region blocking is to prevent problems with locales that use commas as their decimal separator

      b) They got around this by blocking the install in all regions other than "our 4 officially supported English locales"

      I'm not sure which to more furious about here, the fact that my locale is apparently regarded as a toy version of English and not officially supported (have you considered that that means we are probably stupid to use Windows in government departments?), or the fact that the solution chosen was so, well...not reflecting as much thought as we might expect.

      Has nobody heard of CultureInfo.NumberFormat?
      It's not hard to tell what people are using and make appropriate allowances.



    • User profile image
      dunclaw
      We appologize for the delay on international install, and believe me we weren't happy about the temporary restriction.

      The issue is actually not with the managed code at all, that uses correct formatting.  The problem is with how it interacts with jscript.  The site script sometimes helpfully formats stuff passed in to the control, but sometimes doesn't.  In some cases like bool types, it formats them and C# doesn't have a way to parse them back into bool.

      We only found the issues right before release and didn't feel comfortable throwing something out there completely untested.
      Just give us a couple of days to run a test pass and get the bugs out so we can deliver a quality release.
    • User profile image
      Kevin Daly
      dunclaw wrote:
      Just give us a couple of days to run a test pass and get the bugs out so we can deliver a quality release.


      OK then Smiley

      I apologise for my grumpiness, it's just annoying being told by an uppity msi that I don't speak English Perplexed

      I'll check back in a few days...I'm keen to try this out when you get the issues sorted.
    • User profile image
      Raj Tripathi

      I was just comparing the quality of images of Google Earth and local.live.com and I am sorry to say that Microsoft should rename it to Virtual USA. I live in Moscow and the quality of maps for this city is just terrible. I am not talking about some village in Siberia, its Moscow (even Bill was here couple of month ago Wink ).

      Please don’t get me wrong I am a big Microsoft advocate, and I want to be able to build software using my favorite .NET language based on this technology, but for now Microsoft gives me no choice but to choose Google Earth over Virtual Earth. Guess I’d be using my Xbox controller only for Gears of War Sad

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