Bing Maps for Windows UWP apps
Why no feedback via UserVoice or Connect?
If you want to be proactive about engaging your customers, please consider establishing some conduit for developers to report bugs and/or make product requests. The fact that Bing Maps seems to have no presence on UserVoice or Connect sends the signal that there is little interest in feedback from your customers. And it's unclear whether this forum is viewed only as a self help forum rather than a valid conduit for feature requests and bug reports. Other than RickyB, there appears to be no MSFT participation which is troubling. Over the last decade Bing Maps has floundered drastically in comparison to Google maps due largely to the lack of continuity - an often capriciously different API with different capabilities accompanied the release of each mapping control. Some hope for the future seems to be possible given the new 8.1 map control. It would seem important to make sure the most crucial features for ISVs are covered in VNext releases of this control, but given the lack of opportunities to influence product direction, no beta releases, and no UserVoice, my confidence that you're going to get this right is limited. Help us to help you. (Or else open source the control!) Jay
Every single Bing Maps app/site has a way to provide feedback built into the app/site. The benefit of providing feedback in this way is that it starts a workflow with the Bing Maps engineering team and gets routed to the proper people based on the type of feedback being provided. This is a lot faster than using something like UserVoice to collect feedback over a period of time and then going through them at a later date. There are also a number of other ways to provide feedback such as the forums (average response time is less than 24 hours), the Bing Maps Enterprise Support team for licensed customers (they provide bug/case id's which can be used to get status updates at a later date), twitter #bingmaps, Bing Maps blog comments: http://blogs.bing.com/maps. There is a Bing Maps category in the connect site which is mainly used for beta versions of API's. Recently we created a new Bing Maps team called the Bing Maps customer advisory team. One of the main focuses of this team is to ensure customers get the most out of the platform and to take feedback from the field and work with the engineering team to see how we can prioritize the feedback into our future development roadmap. This team is primarily focus on licensed Enterprise customers and is designed to put the customers’ needs first. This team does assist the sales team with technical questions but does not have a sales quota meaning that at the end of the day their goal is to make customers happy, not to sell Bing Maps. I'm on this team. We also have Bing Maps MVP's who are experts in Bing Maps development and leaders in the Bing Maps development community. They don't work for Microsoft. They are often made aware of roadmap information early on and asked to provide feedback based on their experience. In total there are 9 Bing Maps development MVP's worldwide in 7 countries. You can find them listed here: http://mvp.microsoft.com/en-us/search-mvp.aspx?ex=Bing+Maps+Development In regards to your other points: Several people from the Bing Maps engineering team check the forums on a regular basis to see what common issues developers are having. Many of them do answer questions.... if I don't get to them first. I like to be responsive on the forums and usually answer questions within a few hours of them being posted and before anyone else has a chance to even see them. This is likely why it might not look like there are many MSFT people on the forums. But if you look around you will notice that there have been a number of posts that I wasn't sure about and others from MSFT jumped in. Often, if I come across a question that I need help with I'll reach out to someone on our engineering team to get there input and will respond to the forum. I also use the forums to come up with most of the ideas behind the blog posts I write on Bing MapsI've been helping out with the Bing maps forums answering questions and moderating for about 7 years now. When I started at Microsoft there was only one forum category for Virtual Earth. The name of the product changed but the forums never did. We also had 11 different API's at the time which made the forums pretty difficult to use. One of first tasks at Microsoft was to create several different Bing Maps forums based on the different API categories. I also took ownership of the forums as the previous owner of the forum had long since changed teams and was inactive in the forums. I take a lot of pride in providing accurate and timely responses on the forums. Perhaps I should hold back a bit on being so responsive and give others a chance to try and answer some questionsGoogle has excelled in the consumer space with their maps, but when it comes to the enterprise space, where people pay for the maps, Bing Maps is very competitive. I used to be in technical sales for Bing maps and whenever I came across a situation where the customer was looking at both Bing and Google maps they ended up going with Bing Maps 9 out of 10 times. There are several reasons for this. One of which is that it's pretty easy to get in touch with someone on the Bing Maps team that truly cares about your business and who want to help you solve your business problem and will help you solve any development issues you might run into as well.As for continuality, Bing Maps has actually been pretty good with this with the exception of Windows Phone 8/8.1 where the API is fairly different from our other Bing Maps API's. There is something that I have brought to the attention of our WP maps team. One of the common pieces of feedback we get from customers is that it’s fairly easy to move code from one API to another. If you take a close look at Bing Maps Silverlight, WPF, and Windows Store SDK's, they do have some differences but there are a lot of similarities that make it fairly easy if you know one to pick up another and create a map with minimal differences. Because these SDK's are so similar it was really easy for me to create a spatial library that works across all the .NET versions of Bing Maos: http://mapstoolbox.codeplex.com/ As for the future of Bing Maps, there is a lot of things going on. In fact there has a been a ton of development going on with Bing Maps over the years but one mistake that was made is that our team wasn't make these things well known. This has led some customers to think that Bing Maps has not been innovating which is unfortunate because there has been a lot of really cool things that have been released. This is something that we are working on changing this year. Our engineering teams will be posting blog posts about their releases regularly now. There has been a couple of posts already in the past month. Check them out here: http://blogs.bing.com/maps If you want a glimpse into one of the many things that are in the works for Bing Maps check out the Bing Maps Preview app in Windows 8.1. http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/bing-maps-preview/75ce2a6a-8a25-4916-83d0-19b8e7b60787 This app has some of the highest resolution 3D buildings I've ever seen that were not manually created by architects. If you are doing development with the Bing Maps Windows Store SDK you might find my book on creating location intelligent Windows Store apps useful. I made this available as a free ebook so that anyone can benefit for this resource. I hope this response addresses your questions and concerns. We are constantly innovating and are always listening to our customer feedback to help shape the future of Bing Maps. I'd also like to thank you for bring up your concerns. Let me know if you have any more questions, concerns or feedback. Ricky Brundritt Bing Maps Customer Advisory Team
Thanks for your very thoughtful and comprehensive reply. I've been closely watching development of the 8.1 control and am excited by the prospect of incorporating this control into my own apps. My testing to date has shown great promise. But at the same time, there are features missing which are showstoppers for my application. Without something like UserVoice, where customers can actually vote on which features are critical for their own apps, how do you prioritize development? There's no visibility that bugs / feature requests I've brought up on this forum are being addressed at all. Instead of continuing product development, confident that needed features are being addressed, I'm perpetually on-hold, waiting for the next release. This missing information causes delays getting products to market. I'm reminded of the situation with offline tiles. A year and a half after the world screams about the absence of a crucial feature it finally appears in VNext. DOH! Had there been some early feedback mechanism, that sort of glaring omission would not have occurred.
The fact that "To date there has been 7 people who have requested this feature" (offline tiles) speaks volumes about how little confidence ISVs have engaging with MSFT. You've got 7 requests, while on Android and iPhone this feature has spawned hundreds of (expensive) products. Taking just nautical, aero, topo, and skiing apps into consideration: Android nautical, aeronautical, topo, skiing maps: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=nautical%20charts&c=apps https://play.google.com/store/search?q=aeronautical%20charts&c=apps https://play.google.com/store/search?q=topo%20maps&c=apps https://play.google.com/store/search?q=ski%20maps&c=apps iOS nautical, aeronautical, topo, skiing maps: http://appcrawlr.com/ios-apps/best-apps-nautical-charts http://appcrawlr.com/app/search?_src=sort_&max=12&similarTo=aeronautical-charts&device=ipad%2Ciphone&id=aeronautical-charts&sort=&trigger=deviceChange http://appcrawlr.com/app/search?_src=sort_&max=12&q=topo+maps&device=ipad%2Ciphone&go=go&sort=&trigger=deviceChange If the main goal is to sell Bing tile access to businesses rather than establish the platform as a viable player for ISVs and consumers, then I completely agree you're on the right course!
All of the product categories I mentioned have offline overlay layers which have been produced by ISVs. Having an offline Bing map base layer is usually a nice-to-have feature (especially if the layers can be made semi-transparent) but is not absolutely critical to product functionality.
For the sake of being thorough, you can find the connect site for submitting feature requests and reporting other feedback here: https://connect.microsoft.com/bingmaps/Feedback Notice there is also an option to vote up/down ideas.http://rbrundritt.wordpress.com
There is now a UserVoice page for Bing. This includes a section for maps here: https://binglistens.uservoice.com/forums/283355-ideas/category/94066-mapshttp://rbrundritt.wordpress.com
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