We are happy to announce the availability of version 3 of the Virtual Earth Map Control.  This exciting new control comes with dozens of enhancements, including new features not available in any of the previous versions, simpler integration, better compatibility, and much much more.

New Features

Like using maps, aerial imagery, and bird’s eye? Then you’ll love doing it with support for :

  • Place/Address lookups (Geocoding) – With a simple new Find() method, you can easily add a Where box to your application to allow users to input addresses, cities/towns, zip codes, landmarks or other locations and quickly and easily pinpoint them on the map. Support for handling ambiguous addresses is included as well.
  • Driving Directions/Routing and Polylines – Driving directions, routing and polylines. The new route methods allow developers to quickly enable driving directions from one location to another in their application. You also can create your own custom polylines for highlighting key information on maps and imagery.
  • Quick data-binding for GeoRSS – Now, you can quickly a simply bind data to pushpins using the standard data format GeoRSS. Just point the control at your GeoRSS file or service and it will automatically manage the process of creating pushpins and pop-ups.
  • Public Collection layers – Even easier than creating a GeoRSS file, you can bind a Windows Live Local public collection to the control. Just build a public collection of your favorite places in your local town or a listing of your business’ locations, drop the map control in your web page using the sample code in the SDK and point it to your collection—voila, instant mashup.
  • Built in pushpins and pop-ups – Now, you can quickly use our methods to create pushpins and pop-ups in the default style without having to design them yourselves. Of course, the very popular, simple methods for rolling your own are still there as well; so you have your choice from easy default styles to full look and feel control.

What is gone is just as important as what we have added: no more proxies, less includes, and simpler methods. Search, bird’s eye and routing are no longer dependant on proxies to operate correctly. Just call the new, simple methods like Route and Find and they just work. And, the control can be used with just a single file referenced from your site. Gone are the days of different includes for style sheets, scripts, compatibility support, etc. Just include the control once and it does all the rest.

Improved SDK

Improved isn't even the word.  In addition to the usual MSDN-style documentation in web and CHM formats, we also have a cool new interactive SDK that lets you learn about and experiment with the map control all inside the SDK website.  You can get started in seconds writing your first VE app or polishing up on the new APIs and easily test out all the new functionality. Give the new Virtual Earth interactive SDK a try.

International Expansion

With this release, we have expanded international coverage of maps and imagery, including the first bird’s eye outside the US, namely in the UK (here’s a collection with some of the highlights). We will continue to expand the coverage of bird’s eye across the US, UK and other areas, rolling out additional imagery on a regular basis.

Aerial imagery has also been improved. In the UK, we have detailed aerial imagery of most of England and We also have improved the base level coverage for aerial imagery, bringing it down to level 13 world wide, from level 8 previously (see here for details on level 13’s resolution).

We have expanded road map and routing/directions coverage to a number of countries (English only, localization will come later). UK and Canada both have major highway and city/town level detail for maps and routing. Western Europe, Australia, and a few other areas have city to city routing on major highways and thoroughfares.

v2 Still Supported

All new applications should be built on the v3 Map Control, but for those users who are using the v2 control in your application, you will have plenty of time to migrate over v3 (see above and check out the new SDK for all the reasons why you should). The v2 SDK will continue to be available in the MSDN library archives. We will announce official support timelines for v2 and v3 controls in the near future—stay tuned to this blog for updates.

This new version of the Virtual Earth Map Control adds a ton of new functionality, and we are interested to know what you want think of it. So, post a comment or send us an email. Thanks.

Windows Live Local

Oh yeah, and a great new version of Windows Live Local was released today as well. In addition to the international support it shares with the map control, it includes support for saving your scratch pad to the cloud as a collection; sharing your collections with friends, family, and others through email, IM, or your blog (not to mention through mashups); and keeping track of the best collections you have received with Windows Live Favorites integration. It also adds real-time traffic for about 35 US metros including New York city, LA, Seattle, and DC. Take it for a spin.