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MapPoint Philosophy

This is a discussion on MapPoint Philosophy within the MapPoint Desktop Discussion forums, part of the Map Forums category; I just got really started with MapPoint last night, and I'm starting to get that really bad, cold-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach feeling that ...

  1. #1
    Anonymous is offline Senior Member Black Belt
    Join Date
    Jul 2002

    MapPoint Philosophy

    I just got really started with MapPoint last night, and I'm starting to get that really bad, cold-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach feeling that comes on when you realize that the software you were so excited about maybe isn't the solution after all.

    I'm on my 30-day trial. I've uploaded 47,000 points to my account, and they all geocode nicely. Well, when I say "all", I mean 100 at a time.

    That's the big problem. I'm a newbie, and I don't know for sure, but it looks like MapPoint is really just for finding your (finite number of) stores and showing them on a map.

    My 47,000 points represent gasoline and convenience store sites all across the U.S. Whereas MapPoint seems to be centered around "Hey, let's find some sites near your area of interest", what I'm wanting to do is more like, "Hey, show ALL of my points within the user's field of vision--wherever he may be in the country--and make all of them that are on-screen to be clickable."

    There seems to be a limit of 250 pushpins you can have loaded at a time, and only 100 "hot spots" (clickable areas). My users come in at the (x,y) location they prefer to start at, and I show them as many points as I can around that area. But once they zoom out and move away, the points end. Since I can only show 100 at a time (unclickable points are useless to me), they find the "end of the world" rather quickly.

    I'd like my points to just always be there. Just as you don't have to run a FindNearby to show streets and such, so I would like my points to just always be viewable. Moreover, when on-screen, my points need to be clickable as well.

    Am I just barking up the wrong tree here with MapPoint?

    Thanks for taking the time to read this and respond. I love Microsoft, and I'm just trying to fend off this dark cloud of disappointment over MapPoint.

  2. #2
    Alex57 is offline Junior Member White Belt
    Join Date
    Feb 2004

    Re: MapPoint Philosophy

    I might be able to help. If you want, reply to amachinis@spatialpoint.com with your phone #.
    We speacialize in this stuff.

    Best regards,


  3. #3
    Eric Frost's Avatar
    Eric Frost is offline Administrator Black Belt
    Join Date
    Jul 1992
    Blog Entries
    Steven Pushee responds:


    Let's take this piece at a time:

    1. Performance - This is a web service and so suffers from the limitations
    that any application that needs to make calls back and forth over the
    internet will, specifically in your scenario, performance problems. Right
    now the limit on pushpin display is 99 (valid range of array 0-100). The
    more info you send across the wire the worse performance times will be. If
    you want to display more icons you can draw them yourself using the .NET
    GDI+ drawing classes. There's a demo called 'Client Point Drawing' on the
    demo site http://demo.mappoint.net/. There's no reason why you can't make
    them all clickable if you so wish.

    2. Display - Take a average size map, which you would be displaying to an
    end user, zoom out to show Atlanta, and now stick your 500+ icons on it,
    each of which is probably 16X16 pixels. Often what you'll get is a mess
    with icons overlapping and definitely no place to stick labels if you
    wanted to, way to busy, way to much information for a customer. Try taking
    that same size map showing the entire US and stick your 47,000 icons on it,
    then try to make them all clickable, all of which leads me to the next

    3. Needs of the user - From your description this sounds like a typical
    'Locator' application. You are trying to get the end user into your
    'locations' whether they be gas stations or retail stores. I've dealt with
    100s of locator apps over the last 3+ years and you need to make them
    simple. A huge percentage of these applcations show LESS than 10 locations
    at a time (the norm is probably 5). Many of these applications also give
    the user a link to get the 'next 5 locations' and so forth and these links
    are almost never used by the end user. For a locator customer I assure
    you that showing 500+ locations on a map is almost totally USELESS. If
    this isn't a 'locator' type of app please fill me in on the details.

    4. "I'd like my points to just always be there" - There's no such thing(to
    my knowledge). Let's think this through, the map data and your data are
    two separate entities. It sounds like you want us to integrate your data
    and every other customers data with the map data so your point 'can just
    always be there'. If you think that you can find an application our there
    that does that then good luck.

    Question: "Am I just barking up the wrong tree here with MapPoint?"

    Answer: MapPoint is a real good app. Whether it is the best solution
    depends on your needs. If I'm right in my assumption that you are building
    a 'locator' type of application then MapPoint is a good solution, you just
    need to rethink what your customers really need. If this isn't a 'locator'
    type of solution please feel to fill me in on the details either here or to
    my email (just remove the nospam part).

    Steven Pushee

    This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.
    You assume all risk for your use. 2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights
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  4. #4
    Anonymous is offline Senior Member Black Belt
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Well, here's an example of how our users use maps in our applications.

    Some guy at BigOil enters our website and selects a market region--say, Los Angeles. Or Kansas City. Or Atlanta.

    Oftentimes, he wants that first view to be an entire-market view. He wants to see all of his sites (say, 150 sites) plus all his competitors. Let's say his in blue, and competitors in red.

    That initial view usually lets him orient himself to his presence in the market. Showing roads and highways alone at this point isn't useful to him. He wants to see his entire retail network at once.

    From that point, he'll usually zoom in on an area or territory he wants to study in detail. This is often done by just visually identifying a cluster of outlets in the initial view. He may recognize this cluster as near such-and-such mall, or at this limited-access highway location.

    So, seeing site coverage is very important. I've written these kinds of apps using MapInfo MapX and ArcIMS for six years now, and I've watched many of our clients start this way. Sure, sometimes they start with an address and never actually want to see a "macro" view. But often, at some point in the process they want to look--at least glance--at their overall market coverage.

    I'm hopeful, after reading your post, that I can basically render 100 "hot spots" around the current (x,y) location, and any "leftover" sites I can maybe draw using the example you provided.

    This, I would think, would take care of that issue. And if performance is awful, then we'll have to then talk about what things must go.

    If I sounded like I'm bashing MapPoint, I'm not. You can't find a bigger MS homer than me. But I've been hopeful about moving our clients away from the big, expensive ESRI/MapInfo solutions and toward MapPoint (with an understandable shift in functionality), and I don't want to sacrifice usability if there's some other way.

    Another possibility might be to "zoom-layer" with MapPoint somehow--show no pushpins until a certain zoom-level has been reached. Prior to that, maybe show nothing (not so good) or maybe do this client-draw method (better).

  5. #5
    Anonymous is offline Senior Member Black Belt
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Response found on from the MapPoint forum:

    You have to decide if MapPoint is right for you. Keep in mind that 47,000 POIs you are reaching the upper limit of MapPoint. I think the max. number is 50,000. Make sure this list will not grow over 50,000.

    You are correct, MapPoint is for finding your (finite number of) stores and showing them on a map, which is what most people want. As Steve mentions in his response, adding too many POIs can clutter the map to make the map useless.

    Steve also insinuates that there are no applications that can do what you want. This is incorrect. There is a site that does exactly what you want. It is at www.geocaching.com. I helped design and deploy that site. MapPoint was not an option because they had in excess of 200,000 POIs and their users updated the POIs constantly.

    Their maps display fast, no performance problems even when you request several thousand POIs and they are clickable without using a separate ?Client Point Drawing?. They implemented their POIs so they are ?always there?. Using an automated update and spatial index feature that actually builds the POIs layers right into the map and the map display. An innovative feature is that you can pan across to a new area and the POIs will appear. If you click on one, that software builds a new list below the map. The POI you clicked will appear on the top of the list and then ranks them in order based on distance. Mapping applications came from GeoMicro.

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