MSR MapCruncher for Virtual Earth
Have you ever looked at satellite photos of a building in Virtual Earth -- and wished you could zoom right in and see its floorplan? Have you ever used VE to plan a trip across town -- and wanted to seamlessly switch from its road maps to maps of bicycle trails, bus routes, or carpool lanes? Have you ever wanted to create and publish your own map mashups -- and wished you had a tool to make it easy to integrate a map you care about into Virtual Earth? With MapCruncher, you can!
The Virtual Earth API allows web developers to supplement Virtual Earth's maps with pushpins and lines. MapCruncher brings mashups to a whole new level by allowing developers to import entire maps to supplement the existing road and aerial imagery with detailed, application-specific information. The possibilities are endless: bicycle maps, transit maps, national park maps, university maps, antique city maps, or whatever drawn-to-scale maps you personally find interesting. You can even augment Virtual Earth with Do-It-Yourself Aerial Photography. See our Gallery for more examples.
Maps become dramatically more useful when registered to Virtual Earth. For example, last year, Jeremy moved to Kirkland and wanted to commute to Microsoft by bike. Jon pointed out the useful King County bike map, which is available on line in PDF form:
However, we couldn't figure out whether the bike trail crosses Interstate 405 at 60th Street, since the green line for the trail shows a break:
The answer can be found in Virtual Earth's aerial imagery, but it took us nearly 15 minutes to find this point in Virtual Earth, because we could only connect the two maps visually. Once we crunched the bike map into Virtual Earth's global coordinate system, a click of the mouse took us from the above image of the bike map to this one:
Mystery solved! A pedestrian bridge links bike trail across the highway.
MapCruncher makes it easy to publish maps overlaid on Virtual Earth. Once you are familar with the tool, it will take you about ten minutes to crunch a new map. Just find 5 to 10 corresponding landmarks on your map and on Virtual Earth, and MapCruncher will register your map to the global coordinate system, warp it to fit a Mercator projection, and generate a set of image tiles that can be seamlessly mashed up with VE's standard road or aerial imagery. It even makes a sample HTML page to show you how to use your mashed-up map.
MapCruncher accepts a variety of vector formats (PDF, WMF, EMF) and raster formats (JPG, PNG, TIFF, GIF, BMP).
To make a mashup: The MapCruncher application requires Windows XP or Server 2003. It also requires the .Net 2.0 runtime, which it will install if necessary.
To view a mashup: Browsers that are known to work include IE6, IE7, and Firefox version 1.5 or higher. Unfortunately, Safari and Opera do not yet work.
Run the downloaded installer. You will be promped for an installation directory. MapCruncher will be added to the Microsoft Research group in the Start menu.
PDF on 64-bit bug
The current releases of MapCruncher include a 32-bit PDF rendering library. If you're on a 64-bit machine, you will see an error:
Unable to cast object of type 'MSR.CVE.BackMaker.ExceptionMessageRecord' to type 'MSR.CVE.BackMaker.RectangleFRecord'.To work around this bug, use this tip to run MapCruncher in 32-bit mode:
Do this with corflags at a Visual Studio command prompt in the MapCruncher executable's directory: