More Work? Right-o.

The last release of Geon was a kind of forced release from me. You see up until recently I had been using what Microsoft calls a Community Technology Preview (CTP) version of the map control that dominates the center of Geon. When it was initially released there wasn’t really any timeline around how long it was going to last so I had just assumed that it would work forever (save for the fact that I wouldn’t get any new features). However this turns out not to be the case as Microsoft so politely informed me a while back:

Valued Bing Maps Silverlight CTP Participant,

Thank you for participating in the CTP – we are excited to announce that the latest release of the Bing Maps Platform, including the v1 Silverlight Map Control, is officially here!

Please visit the Bing Maps Blog for a full breakdown of the Silverlight Map Control release details.

Important housekeeping details:

  • Please note that the CTP control will cease to function at midnight, December 31, 2009. To ensure continued functionality of your CTP applications, please make plans to upgrade to the version 1 code before that time. For a description of the version 1 changes from the CTP build, please visit the changelist reference in the SDK here.
  • The Connect site will remain available until December 15th for reference purposes only. Future technical questions/discussion should be directed to the Bing Map Control Development forum on MSDN (paid, evaluation and free account types) or to the Bing Enterprise Support Team (paid accounts).

Again, thank you for your participation in the CTP. Your feedback was invaluable improving the code and the overall platform. We look forward to working with you again in the future.

Well that meant 2 things: the first being I was completely wrong, although anyone who’s used CTP versions of software before will tell you what I thought was total bollocks. The second was that I had to rewrite some of Geon in order to make sure it was compatible with the new version of the plugin, as well as some dastardly new license requirements. I was none too happy to hear about them discontinuing my version and releasing a new one at the same time, but a couple features caught my eye.

On the surface most of it was just a cleanup of the code underneath. Many of the structs had been replaced with classes and the namespaces had changed to be more inline with Microsoft’s whole Bing strategy. They also introduced a licensing requirement so I had to get an application key in order to use their control. This isn’t all bad news since they’re pretty lax for developers like me who are just starting out, but still pales in comparison to Google’s (it’s free but if you’re making a big app tell us and we’ll put on extra servers for your app key). I’ve had it fail to register the key a couple times on me to so hopefully they work this all out in the coming months.

Microsoft also released the Bing Web Services SDK which has quite a few nice goodies in it. I’ve got my eye on the Geocode service since I currently use a free service that has been blasted in the past by apps like mine and has subsequently disable access to the free service. Whilst I’d like to avoid doing that each use of the Geocode service counts against my license key. Since I’d like to think that one day there will be a fair few people using Geon I’d like for it to stay usable for as long as possible as I work out the various licensing deals with all the services I’m using, and spreading the load across 2 services seems like a good bet at the moment.

So it might not have been the nicest of surprises but it did spurr me on to add in 3 more information feeds into Geon which I wouldn’t of done for a much longer time had I not been forced to work on it. So overall its good that Microsoft gave me the proverbial boot up the bum.

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