I’ve been waiting for this day to happen for a LONG TIME.  I’ve been working with WPF, Virtual Earth, and Surface for quite a while now.  If you’ve followed my blog, you’ve seen some hacked up samples showing various ways of getting Virtual Earth integrated into a WPF application.  I’ve been working with a number of customers and partners on Surface and WPF applications lately.  Just about every one of them wants mapping capabilities in their Surface and WPF apps.  That is not a surprise given that I focus on US Government customers. 

A while back, I created a fairly trivial sample of how to integrated Virtual Earth into a Surface app.  I’ve been sharing it as a starting point to get customers going.  I met Josh Wall from InfoStrat through my good friend Russ Williams from the Microsoft Technology Center in Reston, Va.  Russ and I had worked together on a few Surface opportunities.  He told me about a conversation he had with Josh from InfoStrat.  Josh was interested in the sample that I put together.  We had a call to discuss some of the challenges around Virtual Earth / Surface integration and we shared the sample with Josh. 

What happened next still amazes me.  InfoStrat took the sample, completely rewrote it using a much better technical approach, and started building their own reusable VE WPF/Surface control.  After seeing the amazing work that InfoStrat put into their control, I figured I would ask them if they would be willing to put it on CodePlex.  Much to my surprise, they were very interested in the idea.  They came up with a plan, and the end result is that today they have announced the first release of the control on CodePlex.

What does this mean to you?  If you are a WPF or Surface developer looking to integrate Virtual Earth into your applications, then InfoStrat just saved you a heck of a lot of time and technical challenges.  The fact that InfoStrat was willing to share their work with the community still blows my mind.

I’ll be doing a Channel 9 Inside Out interview with InfoStrat about the control soon.  Stay tuned!

Here’s a description of the CodePlex project:

Project Summary

This control provides a WPF interface for the Virtual Earth 3D control, complete with data binding for camera control and WPF-based pushpins. All Win32 restrictions (air space control, no rotation or visual brush) are eliminated. Microsoft Surface is also supported.

Project Details

Virtual Earth 3D has many applications, but until recently has only been practical on the web with a javascript interface. WPF applications could not use it to its full potential without requiring a WPF wizard and some XAML magic due to Win32 interop limitations.


The solution is here: InfoStrat.VE


Created by InfoStrat, this project provides a VEMap control for WPF and SurfaceVEMap control for Microsoft Surface. SurfaceVEMap derives from VEMap and adds multi-touch manipulation support.


For examples of Microsoft Surface solutions we've built with this control go to our InfoStrat Surface gallery.


InfoStrat.VE allows WPF and Microsoft Surface developers to take full advantage of Virtual Earth 3D with minimal overhead. Simply reference the dll, add a single VEMap control to your XAML, and you have a map! The control eliminates the Win32 Interop restrictions, so you can do everything with this VE control that you could do with any native WPF control, including:

  • Overlay items (no more transparent windows!)
  • Rotate and transform the map within the interface (no more boring rectangles, bring on the 360 degree interfaces!)
  • Use the map within a Visual Brush (you know you want faded reflections!)

Josh Blake, the primary developer on the project, announced the publishing of the control here:

http://nui.joshland.org/2009/03/announcing-infostratve-virtual-earth-3d.html

What are you waiting for?  Head over to the CodePlex page to learn more:

http://wpfvirtualearth.codeplex.com/

About InfoStrat:

Information Strategies ("InfoStrat") helps customers solve complex business problems with IT Consulting Services such as: Requirements Analysis, Software Architecture and Design, and Application Development Services.  InfoStrat is an award-winning Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with Gold Certifications in eight Microsoft Competency Solutions Areas.

Founded in 1987, InfoStrat is one of the nation's foremost leaders in IT Services focused on Microsoft technologies.  InfoStrat has provided IT Consulting Services on over 1000 customer projects.  InfoStrat consultants hold over 150 Microsoft technical certifications and are experts in .NET application development focused primarily on:

News release about CodePlex project on infostrat.com:

http://infostrat.com/home/company_information/news_room/InfoStratVE.htm

InfoStrat’s Single View Platform landing page:

http://infostrat.com/home/solutions/Surface/SurfaceSVP.htm