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Programming MapPoint in .NET



Programming MapPoint in .NET

Some software books are written to capitalize on a wildly successful technology. Others are created to satisfy a personal itch. Still others are written to serve an elite contingency of developers who have made investments in specialized technologies, either personally or through the company they work for, and need guidance on maximizing their knowledge on that product or service. Doing so will hopefully leverage the technology to do the bidding of its benefactors. Programming MapPoint in .NET falls into this last category, but instead of highlighting the amazing capabilities that the technology delivers, it casts discomfort (at least in this reviewer s mind) on Microsoft s Geographic Information System (GIS) offering compared to competing products the most well known being Google Maps and Google Earth.


As a Microsoft developer, I want to use my progressive coding skills toward writing innovative solutions for my company, clients, friends, and family to marvel upon. After reading Programming MapPoint, I concluded that MapPoint will not be my first choice for exercising variable GIS ideas, particularly as they apply to connected location-based and location-enabled applications. Why? Because author Chandu Thota has informed me via his book that in addition to the cost of a MapPoint client application license, developers only have a 60-day trial of Microsoft s MapPoint Web service. Even though this evaluation period can be extended, there s still a toll awaiting any MapPoint developer who wants to extend their service to the world. Microsoft needs to at least be at parity with Google Maps in this regard. Additionally, the meager handful of MapPoint examples pales in comparison to the thousands of innovative designs Google Map users have conjured up.


OK, so Microsoft doesn t want to give away the store and is still seeking a way to monetize a Web service. Unfortunately, little was described in this book that made me enthusiastic about paying for such a service in light of the mash-ups I ve seen developers create with Google Maps. But perhaps the most disappointing discovery I made (as a .NET developer) reading this book was that MapPoint doesn t provide native .NET assemblies. Programmatic manipulation of MapPoint is done via COM Interop, with much of the code demos in the book showing how to corral the COM objects into .NET wrappers. The scary thing is that these code wrappers are late-in-the-game stepping stones to true .NET assemblies. If and when the MapPoint team re-engineers the product for native .NET Framework goodness isn t even suggested in the book. This theme of unfinished business carries into the fourth and last part of the book on Microsoft s Virtual Earth, which is obviously oriented to directly compete with Google Maps and, perhaps to a much lesser extent, Google Earth. In that section, Thota glosses over some JavaScript examples to tool around with while the MapPoint team shores up this service. In the meantime, the section carries a based on beta product and undocumented API s disclaimer that may change significantly in future versions. In other words, caveat emptor to any developer looking to write serious long-term Web interfaces to this technical offering.


Are there redeeming qualities about the book? Absolutely. Being the MapPoint point man at Microsoft, Thota is an excellent (albeit biased) source of knowledge on the technology. Readers will undoubtedly work and program MapPoint more competently after reading this book. Code examples are clear, concise, and easy to follow. And for those readers who lament the lack of color in O Reilly books, Programming MapPoint features an 8-page center section reproducing in color some of the more interesting screen shots.


But in general, this book enrages rather than enlightens, missing a grand opportunity to show why MapPoint is worth the fiscal investment into its exclusive club. Instead, it made me want to seek a book on Google Maps to see how I could do more for less.


Mike Riley



Title: Programming MapPoint in .NET

Author: Chandu Thota

Publisher: O Reilly

ISBN: 0-596-00906-2

Web Site:

Price: US$49.95

Page Count: 372



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