Building a VE Mashup With MSR MapCruncher

The MSR MapCruncher for Virtual Earth is a MS Windows desktop application that let’s quickly build map tiles to use in a Virtual Earth mashup.

By map tiles, we mean image slices of your map at various scales that overly precisely with Virtual Earth tiles at those scales. This is different than adding vector features through the API or drawing images from a WMS server on the fly. These images are pre-generated, making them extremely fast, and they require no map server software, like GeoServer or ArcIMS. Just generate your map tiles, toss them on your web server, Bob’s your uncle.

How easy is it?

  • Make a map you like in your tool of choice, and save it as pdf, jpg, gif, png, wmf, emf, tif, or bmp. As we’re going to be drawing the map at a number of scales, a vector format, like pdf or wmf, works much better, unless you enjoy counting pixels.

  • Pull up MSR MapCruchner, go to File->Add Source Map, and select your map.

  • Now you need to register your map to VE’s map. You’ll see your map on the left and VE’s map on the right. Move both so the cross hair in each is on a corresponding point, and hit Add in the Correspondences tab. You’ll want at least three points in common.

  • Hit render, tell it where to put the map tiles, and wait. Be ye forewarned - it’s going to dump a lot of tiles. Something the size of a county will be about 6000 tiles and 500MB or storage space.

  • Pull up the created samplepage.html in a browser, and check out your stuff.

This is a pretty cool tool to quickly make some tiles and toss them on the tubes. It is particularly handy if you are a map shop and you want to take some of your print projects and put them on the web.

There are a couple of drawbacks:

  • As someone who used to regularly get a RMS error of < 0.1 when registering a plot on a digitizer, this kind of registration process makes my eyebrows arch. If ground accuracy is critical, this probably isn’t your thing.

  • The layer isn’t “smart” - it isn’t going to be changing rendering or turning on and off layers at different scales. What you see zoomed in is more or less what you see zoomed out.

Still, this is a really easy way to start a mashup. Check out the examples in the MapCruncher Demo Gallery for ideas.