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UK Postcodes...

    Question

  • Hi,

     

    I have recently learnt that the Google Map Api has particularly poor UK postcode retrieval capabilities, rendering it useless for the app I have in mind (basically creating a road planner for our Sales reps). This has to do with the fact that UK postcodes are proprietary and protected by law. Strangely enough, Google Ajax Search does provide with coherent UK postcodes and this information can be retrieved into Google Maps. However, all this seems far too complex to me so I am really considering the Virtual Earth / MapPoint combo here.

     

    If I am not mistaken, UK postcode search in Virtual Earth is extremely effective. Do I assume that it would be easy to transform postcodes received from an external program (i.e. Microsoft Dynamics CRM) through XML, into proper markets/pushpins in Virtual Earth?


    Thanks in advance!

     

    David

    Thursday, May 15, 2008 7:56 PM

Answers

  • Hello David

     

    Yes google maps turned down the accuracy level of the postcodes in the uk a few months ago due to licensing issues. Virtual Earth as you said is pretty good at postcodes, although not the most accurate available (being OS codepoint).

     

    You can easily plot pins on a VE map from their postcodes using the VEMap.Find method:

     

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb429645.aspx

     

    However you will need to call this for each point you wish to plot on the map every time you wish to plot them. The best solution is to use the mappoint webservice to geocode your points in advance and then simply add the points with their latitude / longitude all in one go when you load the map.

     

    Let us know if you need any more detail, or help with the project

    Brian Norman

    www.earthware.co.uk

    UK Interactive mapping specialists

    Thursday, May 15, 2008 9:01 PM

All replies

  • Hello David

     

    Yes google maps turned down the accuracy level of the postcodes in the uk a few months ago due to licensing issues. Virtual Earth as you said is pretty good at postcodes, although not the most accurate available (being OS codepoint).

     

    You can easily plot pins on a VE map from their postcodes using the VEMap.Find method:

     

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb429645.aspx

     

    However you will need to call this for each point you wish to plot on the map every time you wish to plot them. The best solution is to use the mappoint webservice to geocode your points in advance and then simply add the points with their latitude / longitude all in one go when you load the map.

     

    Let us know if you need any more detail, or help with the project

    Brian Norman

    www.earthware.co.uk

    UK Interactive mapping specialists

    Thursday, May 15, 2008 9:01 PM
  • Hi Brian, thanks ever so much for your detailed feedback, I appreciate it Smile

    I am very much a noob in developing - I just recently started as a trainee developer for my company, and obviously I want to make sure I suggest the right technology to my manager...

    REgarding MapPoint Web Services: I have been told that this is free of use for Licensed Virtual Earth users, and therefore this would be a good option...

    However, the whole idea is to add one point at a time: we will use MIcrosoft Dynamics CRM to generate a list of Postcodes from the leads system for our sales reps, and then my intention is to display those codes in a map, hopefully with a suggested route, which could be determined either by proximity of points OR by the time in which the appointments of our reps are due...

    Right now the advantage of Virtual Earth seems quite obvious from a point of view of finding the right postcodes. However, we like the possibility that Google Maps offers to alter routes on the fly, by simply dragging the route, and this is not featured in Virtual Earth unless I am mistaken?

    Again, thanks again for your help, I do hope that I can prove my worth to my superiors with this and go in depth creating the needed coding! Big Smile Wink

    Regards,
    David

    Thursday, May 15, 2008 10:02 PM
  • Hello

     

    The "MapPoint webservice bulk geocoding service" is free for licensed VE users, but not the single call geocoder which is more applicable to your current suggested way of working. The single call geocoder is charged at the same rate as one virtual earth transaction.

     

    Really go want to geocode each client / lead as they are entered into the crm system and save the location back to the crm's database. That way you only need to geocode once and per client / lead and not every time you want to show a map.

     

    Im not familiar with Dynamics enough to tell you how easy this would be to add but if you get stuck we may be able to help out with some consultancy.

     

    However I wanted to make sure you were aware of a few things:

     

    1) I presume this is an internal system with a known set of users, have you discussed the licensing implications of this with Microsoft?

     

    2) If you are looking up lots of postcode locations it may be more cost effective to license the postcode data yourself. If it is purely for internal business usage it can be cost effective if you do lots of geocodes per year

     

    3) You are right there are no advanced route dragging functionality currently built into virtual earth but there are some examples of similar code you can add yourself http://garzilla.net/vemaps/PolyLineDragHandle.aspx

     

    I hope that helps

    Brian Norman

    www.earthware.co.uk

     

     

    Friday, May 16, 2008 2:49 PM
  • Hi Brian, your post is (again) extremely helpful and ilustrative. We still have not discused the Licensing implications with Microsoft because we are still considering two options: VE or Google Maps. Once we decide to go one route or another, we will deal with the whole Licensing stuff... Smile And regarding the "doing lots of Geocodes", do I asume that you mean manually creating the geocodes based on Postcodes entered by our sales reps?

    Regards,
    David

    Friday, May 16, 2008 7:31 PM
  •  

    I would recommend you discuss licesing with both parties asap as this can often influence your decision more than anything else

     

    By "do lots of geocodes" I mean do you have a large volume of clients an leads comming into the system. I was suggesting you wrote some code for dynamics that used the mappoint webservice to geocode leads / contacts from their postcodes as they are entered into the system and saving the position data with all their other information. This way you just geocode them once and not every time you use show them on a map.

     

    Brian Norman

    www.earthware.co.uk

     

    Saturday, May 17, 2008 8:02 AM
  • Google API free does not have a UK license for postcodes hence the accuracy of using Google maps for store Locators is very poor. They also cannot Gecode Ireland, Developers and agency's have awful get rounds which often show US towns instead of UK as only based on the first 4 digits of a postcode.

    In all, no professional would use Google as there are specialists such as Bing and ViaMichelin have the full kit available for business's
    Thursday, April 08, 2010 2:31 PM