The Changes in Bing Maps


Microsoft have made some changes to the look and feel of the site. So, it’s out with the old:


And in with the new:


The compass and zoom buttons are now overlaid as buttons on the map image rather than being in the toolbar header, and have been placed on the right hand side and made more prominent.

The breadcrumb trail has also been moved onto the map display itself, with a prominent target icon (displaying “World” in the screenshot above).

The streetside guy is still in the header although still doesn’t do anything yet (not if you’re in Europe, anyway).

However, the most interesting change for me is that the map styles themselves have been split into two separate dropdown categories – “road style” maps (Road, Ordnance Survey, Collins Bartholomew) and “aerial style” maps (Birds’ eye, Aerial). What’s more, the “show angled view” checkbox is gone, and the aerial map styles have reverted to their old names of aerial (for the top down imagery) and bird’s eye (for the oblique imagery).

This I think is a major improvement, and one which I hope feeds through into the Bing Maps AJAX v7 control soon. The problems with the old naming used on (and still used the API) are many:

Firstly, there is terminology – when users say “birdseye” what they mean is the oblique, low level photographic imagery. They don’t say “birdseye angled” and “birdseye not angled” to refer to top down aerial imagery. This makes it hard to establish exactly what mode is being referred to.

Then, there are legal issues. In Microsoft’s own terms of use, there are specific restrictions placed on the use of “bird’s eye imagery” – – but what they really mean is “birdseye angled view” (i.e. true birdseye), not what you get when you just click the “birdseye” button, which gives you aerial view unless you checked the angled view button.

There are also technical differences – you can’t display custom tile layers over birdseye angled views, whereas you can display them over birdseye non-angled views (i.e. aerial) for example.

Birdseye and Aerial are two different map styles so it’s good to see they are being treated, and named as such on (as they always used to be!). So, when are these changes coming to the AJAX API?

Hunting for the Megalithic Stone Circle in Morocco

Over the past few years, we’ve seen some great discoveries in Google Earth, including some quite remarkable finds that were only made possible thanks to the widespread high-resolution imagery that is available in Google Earth.

Some examples include a geologist that “accidentally” discovered a meteor crater, another crater in the Saharan Desert, and a buried Peruvian pyramid.

Today we bring you the story of Graham Salisbury, and how he was able to track down the megalithic stone circle of Mzora using a black and white photograph and Google Earth.


Salisbury quotes several sources as saying it’s “extraordinarily difficult to find” and “one would have to have access to a military satellite to find it“, but he felt that it could be found in Google Earth with enough research and patience.

You can read all of the details on his blog, but he did an excellent job of figuring out which area to search and then tracking down. If you compare the screenshot from Google Earth below with the black and white image above, I think it’s pretty clear that he succeeded.


If you’d like to see it for yourself, you can fly there using this KML file.