SoulSolutions


Virtual Earth developers,

As you may or not know I have taken over the day to day running of www.viavirtualearth.com

The site is pretty run down and frankly a pain to administrate, so we are going to revamp it in the next month.

The site has a wealth of information including some awesome articles and wiki entries and tonnes of links to VE sites around the world in the gallery. Being a non-Microsoft site we are less restricted in what we can do.

The revamp will look initially at providing a better platform for the site to expand its functionlaity, delegate responsibility and provide a better site to find what you need. The aim is to make it trival for anyone here to be able to submit anything from little tips to a full article easily and have the ability to maintain them and get credit for them.

So what features do you want to see

  • Aggregated blog feed of everything VE related, and a VE blog for anybody thats want to contribute.
  • Bug registrar for VE
  • Better layed out wiki with full credits to the authors
  • Integration with other Windows Live technologies
  • No js errors on every page
  • VE tools like, a page that gives you the lat/lon for a location, gives you the encoded version of polygon, Birdseye scene ID etc
  • Resources directory - links to free data sources, pin images, etc
  • Developers directory - profile pages for developers
  • Forums - do we want this And I mean i proper full featured forum. Maybe I look into linking through to this forum in some integrated way....ideas would be great.
  • Awesome graphics and layout
  • Bigger images for gallery items

John.





Re: Features and Improvements for ViaVirtualEarth.com

Earthware


Hi John

Great news! Im sure everyone here will be keen to develop a site with a real community feel that achieves much more than these forums ever could.

From you list I especially like:

  • Better layed out wiki with full credits to the authors
  • Bug registrar for VE
  • Aggregated blog feed of everything VE related, and a VE blog for anybody thats want to contribute.

For the forums I personally feel the MSDN forums work well and would rather not add confusion to where to get support, all that will happen is double posting anyway. However I would like to encourage MS to look at splitting the forums up into a few areas.

As for other ideas here are a few Id like to see:

  • Free icon collections
  • Rumoured VE roadmap

Thanks

Brian Norman

www.earthware.co.uk






Re: Features and Improvements for ViaVirtualEarth.com

Duncan Garratt

I agree with Brian, and in particular the bug register, that I am sure will aid many who are new to developing VE Maps, and prevent much frustration when code doesnĄ¯t work, as it should, due to a bug. It is interesting, as no one likes details of bugs being published. I remember Borland publishing a list of bugs in Windows 95 soon after it was released, which was shipped as a help file with their compilers. On this subject it would be greatly appreciated if Microsoft were to indicate on a bug-by-bug basis, when a fix is likely to be available. On this subject also I have found that different answers are being given, depending on whom you speak to at Microsoft. The sales people at Microsoft are particularly guilty, to the extent that some are quoting from a wish list, rather than what is to appear in the next release. This is serious as it disrupts future planning, software architecture design, and can lead to the end customer inadvertently being mislead. As with all these types of matters two-way communication is key. At present there is little, or no two-way communication between Microsoft, and the forum, in fact they appear since VE version 5 was released to have gone into hibernation, particularly with regard to the memory leak! I thought the VE development team where based in North America, or have they emigrated on mass to Australia, in which case they may be suffering from hibernation jetlag!

What would be nice to see is a tipĄ¯s, and tricks section so that those developers less experienced, could benefit from the accumulated knowledge, and be productive quicker without so much personal R&D. With regard to the forum it seems to be working well, a central point of help I believe is important, and duplication would only confuse matters. The content and quality of the SDK I would say is mixed, and what the forum does show up clearly is where there are gaps in the SDK documentation, by the many repeat questions that are being asked over, and over again.

Lastly I would like to say how useful ViaVirtualEarth.com website has been, and the many interesting articles on the site. I look forward to the improvements, and more contributions by the VE community.

Duncan Garratt





Re: Features and Improvements for ViaVirtualEarth.com

Jared H

Definitely agreed on the lack of visible Microsoft moderators here in this forum, especially on the hotter topics like the memory leak. A defect tracking list is a must, but are we guaranteed any better response on ViaVirtualEarth from the VE team than here Don't get me wrong John, I am all for consolidating everything you'd bulleted out in your initial post and am looking forward to contributing. I mean we have the forum, the interactive sdk, the ve blog, local.live.com, and the msdn2 articles/class reference -- and they all feel like individual, non-related sites. Anything to centralize the general knowledge base, tips, known flaws etc would be beneficial. I agree with Duncan here that a 2nd forum may have the effect of diluting the question/response volume too much...don't know for sure, but it seems like it might. If this forum were moderated on a regular basis I think it could serve its purpose just fine and you could just link to it. I'm intested in what your take on that is.

In any event, as I said -- I AM ALL FOR your initiative and am willing to help. Other possible content ideas:

Code Library (moderated/peer reviewed to some extent)

    1. Client Scripts by category
    2. Server Code
      1. web services hosted services
      2. compiled components and source code
    3. GeoRSS files
      1. exact documentation as to the extent of the spec implementation
      2. downloadable working sample files

Keep up the great work, I can't wait to see how all this pans out.

Jared H





Re: Features and Improvements for ViaVirtualEarth.com

SoulSolutions

Fantastic responces!

Forum:

I think we all agree there is no benifit in having two forums and duplicate posts everywhere. I'll have a look to see if what the msdn forum would look like in an Iframe or something, pity the RSS feed doesn't work that well, at worst I'll get the top topics from the RSS feed and link to this site. I'm not keen to have Iframe issues.

As soon as they release the LiveID web control (in beta currently) I'll use it so you don't need a seperate login between sites.

Brian,

Free icon collections

Are you thinking links or better still a place where you can upload/download them I should get a designer to do a video on how to make nice 3D style dropshadow pins also.

Rumoured VE roadmap

Yes this is tough, but a dedicated page wiki style could be fun!

Duncan,

Bug register.

All I can do is setup a well laid out interface for people to add bug information and link to fixes, mark as fixed etc. I do believe that VE is different in developement then other MSFT technologies. We get 3-4 release per year, that is really impressive. I don't expect we would get any confirmation from MSFT on the bugs but they would certianly know it was there and could subscribe to its RSS feed to make their life easier. I don't think anyone claims that VE is bug free. I see it as a place where people could say - ah yes it is a known issue and work around it if possible - maybe a vote for a fix counter to show how important they are!

Tips and tricks section.

I guess in my mind the wiki was going to do this. The reality is there is great information in there but it badly laid out and hard to find. I have learnt from this. I think having clear sections and getting more people involved and acknologed for their time is the key. For example what would be better

  1. A section called tips and tricks where anyone could put a page. The section page is just a big list of the tiles and a summary for each page.
  2. A section with clear sub sections like: searching, routes, tile layers, overlay controls, resizing, shapes, other browsers, etc where anyone could put a page.
  3. Sectioned based on Authors - "Duncan's tips and tricks", "Jared's tips and tricks". - may make a more interesting read and add some competititon

Jared,

Code Library

Absolutely and yes the key is we need many people to help. The idea is if 20 people contributed a few hours each not only do you get different experences and expertise but you end up with a huge amount of content. I hope it is something where you save so many hours of frustration by find the solution quickly that you can afford to contribute back a few hours to help others. The VE dev community is so small, my experence has been this forum and the articles on ViaVE are a life saver.

So do we want the code library to be the free for all wiki style or would you prefer a form with specific section need to fill out, like version compatibility, how to use etc.

Do we have a published section and a public section, where the published conforms to certain critria and formating while the public is a free for all The idea being that good stuff from the quick and easy public section could be polished up and moved across after it is tested.

And lastly anyone who is keen to help, review, preview or just keep in touch with this over the next month send me an email to john at soulsolutions.com.au or articles@viavirtualearth.com with a subject line like "ViaVirtualEarth site improvements" or something, I get no less then 200 spam emails to that public address a day so I appologise if anyone has ever not got a reply, I will be changing the email adresses to keep my sanity with the update.

Thanks

John.






Re: Features and Improvements for ViaVirtualEarth.com

Duncan Garratt

Hi John

A couple of things you may wish to consider including in the revamped website.

Firstly from my own experience there seems to be two specific groups that use the forum.

  1. Developers
  2. System Architects, Web Page Designers, Project Managers, Marketing People etc.

The important point is that many of the people that fall within group 2, are not programmers, but often play a key role in commissioning a VE project. Their questions tend to be more geared towards what is achievable using VE, and how maps can enhance their business. Perhaps it might be worth having a section that caters for these types of people, who want quick professional answers, or can use the section as an aid when designing, and writing software proposals/specifications. Bridging the gap in effect from an idea, and turning it into reality. Often what I have seen on the web with VE/Google Map implementations is that many of the more advanced uses of a map such as AJAX, polygons, polylines etc arenĄ¯t being used to their full extent by any means, even by large high profile organisations. Perhaps case studies on an industry-by-industry basis could also be included where VE developers can submit case studies detailing some of the more advanced features, and issues regarding the development, implementation, and benefits of a specific VE project. In effect a worldwide shop window for VE maps, where new potential VE customers can nurture/develop ideas with confidence in what they are proposing, so that their proposals at the sign off stage are sound, make good business sense, and most importantly of all get signed off. In effect a resource that a person with an idea can use, and within 1 hour can make a decision with confidence, to develop the idea into a firm proposal. The fundamental point here is, if people with ideas donĄ¯t know what is achievable, then many a good idea simply remains as an idea, and never gets developed.

In converting ideas into business, a geographical register of contractors/software houses I think would be a great idea. Sage have done this extremely well here in UK. Perhaps the criteria to being listed on the register is that a website, or project is submitted for approval as an example of work, to ensure that reasonable standards of competence in developing a VE map exists. Equally specialist areas could also be listed, such as tracking, property marketing, environment, leisure, BI, government national/local etc, so that potential customers could be guided to the right contractor/software house who specialise in that field. I think this could be a great project for the use of a VE map.

Whilst I fully accept that your resources may be limited, I would ask you to give the above serious consideration. In terms of cost Microsoft may wish to consider making a contribution out of their marketing budget, as I am sure that they would derive significant amounts of new business.

Duncan Garratt






Re: Features and Improvements for ViaVirtualEarth.com

Cmafai

Great news! I am brand new to the Virtual Earth community, but VVE has been very helpful. The only thing that really needs to be improved is the amount of information/active users. The content that was there was mostly very helpful, but there wasn't enough. More active users on the forum would also be nice, as the threads rarely even get replies. One last thing is maybe a place to put ideas for uses for VE

I don't know what you can do about the forum replies, except maybe delegating a few volunteers to answer threads.

Good luck!