Virtual Earth finding its way onto more consumer-oriented business sites

I’m finding more and more sites lately that are using Virtual Earth as their on-site mapping program.  The latest is Bank of America (via the VE dev blog).  It’s got a unique issue in that it claims to require that you enter your City, State and ZIP, but it appears that ZIP-only will work (as it should).

Another fairly new one is Weather.com (here is the radar for my area).  However, its got one big problem – static radar images only.  A static radar doesn’t help me decide if rain is on the way, as it could be coming from a variety of different angles.  All that a static radar will do is tell me if it’s raining right now — I have windows that serve the same purpose.  (btw – if you want a nice animated radar, I’ve always been a big fan of AccuWeather)

Finally, we have Harry Norman realtors.  We used them to buy our current house and we’re big fans.  I told them a few times that they should put their listings into a Google Earth network link, as that would be great for potential buyers.  I had been putting all of our “homes to see” into GE, along with local Target stores, Publix, Chick-Fil-A and other places that we enjoy, just to see how it shakes out.  Dropping all of that into a nice GE network link would be amazingly easy, but repeated e-mails to them have gone completely unanswered.

Anyhow, here is their “Map Search”.  As you zoom in, you can see where all of the Harry Norman offices are located.  Wait, what?  Yep.  Their map shows all of their offices for you, but no houses.  A link in the corner shows how many listings would be on the map, which you can click to show in a big long list.  While I suppose it beats nothing, it’s really quite pitiful.

One final complaint – none of these maps support the Space Navigator.  At all.  As the Google Earth Blog said a while back, the Virtual Earth interface has a rather “clunky” mouse interface.  I agree completely.

All of that being said, it’s impressive to see these big companies choosing to use Virtual Earth rather than Google Maps (or Earth, in some cases).  This battle between Google and MS should only continue to heat up, which will ultimately benefit all of us in the form of better products.

Comments

  1. The weather.com radar does display moving radar. Click on the image you posted a link to (It’s says “click to interact”), then on the new page hit the animation play button under the radar and it will load up and play an hour or two worth of radar.

  2. Wow, I had never noticed that. It’s a bit sluggish when zoomed in, but I love the fact that it’s updated on five minute increments. Thanks for the info!

  3. Jwalker says:

    I believe you are mixing apples and oranges. Those sites are using the VE API to develop their own thing. They define their applications and select whatever VE features to integrate. That has nothing to do with the strengths of weaknesses of the VE API or environment.
    BTW – the space navigator works quite well with VE 3D (the real thing at maps.live.com).

  4. Agreed. I was simply trying to point out that it was a shame that these sites (especially Harry Norman) had done such a poor job of implementing it.

    I think the VE API is great. It’s obvious that MS is working very hard on it and it’s starting to show.

    I know the Space Navigator works well with the real VE – it is GREAT. I just wish I could use it to pan and zoom on these maps as well. I have no idea why I can’t — whether it’s an implementation problem or just a shortcoming with the API. Really, it’s a pretty minor thing at this point anyhow.

  5. In regards to a great real estate site that uses VE API check out John L. Scott Real Estate:

    http://www.johnlscott.com

    The neighborhood wizard is great.

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