Usage Hints for site locator maps
from Bing Maps

These usage hints apply to locator maps reached by clicking a "Bing Maps" plain text link on a site data page on this Website.

Our "customization" of Bing Maps is minimal - we simply use the map link which Bing provides so that you can see the same view we did.  (Bing Maps have other functions, which we don't use, though you may.)

The view which you will see initially is a "bird's eye" aerial perspective photo centered on the building which houses the bells, zoomed in to the closest practical level.  (At present, there appear to be only two levels for these views.)  Street map lines and names are usually overlaid on the aerial photography.  (When we omit them, you can get them back by pulling down the Aerial menu and clicking the "See Labels" checkbox.)  In most cases, this view is very straightforward and informative.  However, in cities with many tall buildings, lines of sight are often obstructed, and the street map overlays don't fit the street images very well.  Theoretically, each of these views should be aimed toward one of the four cardinal points of the compass, as indicated by the small "vicinity" map in the upper right corner of the photo.  In practice, some views can be up to about 30 degrees off that cardinal direction, because of where your point of interest lies in a particular photograph.

There is one major limitation on all of these views: we can't place an icon on the photo to show you just where the bells are located.  (Bing Maps can place icons according to street address, but that's rarely helpful.)  In most cases it is obvious - a single bell tower can be fairly eye-catching.  But multiple bell towers can be confusing; some structures are unconventional; and some perspectives contain obstructions to the desired line of sight.  If it is not apparent where the bells are located, then compare the Google Maps locator, which does carry a maptack icon pinpointing the location of the bells.

The chevron about halfway down the left edge of the photo controls whether the "task area" appears to the left of the photo.

With the controls in the upper left corner of the photo, you can rotate the perspective around the building (90 degrees per click), You can also zoom out (or in) and/or switch to a conventional overhead view.  The checkbox in the Aerial pull-down menu controls whether or not building labels and street overlay are visible.

Normally, rotating the perspective is a very useful way to see different aspects of a building.  But in some areas, when you attempt a rotation, the map suddenly shifts out to a distant overhead view and you get a message to the effect that bird's eye views are not available.  Apparently what that really means is that you were at the edge of a bird's eye view zone so that the usual four perspectives were not all available.  Bing handles this situation very badly, making it difficult to get back to one of the perspectives that is available for the point of interest.  Our suggestion: use the Back button on your browser, then the Forward button.  That might or might not work.

If the revision date for the site data page is Dec.2009 or newer, and there is no Bing Maps link, then a bird's eye view for that place was not available then.

Need more help?  Want advice?  Pick a question . . .

Have a question that's not listed above? or just curious?  Read all the answers in order . . .

If you don't find what you need, use the email link at the bottom of this page to ask your question.


What's "Bing Maps" ?

Bing Maps is an online dynamic mapping service which is provided at no cost to the Guild by Microsoft, an independent company.  It offers several different services for location-based information for much of the world; we utilize just one of those services.

The availability of bird's-eye views varies throughout the world, and there does not seem to be any way to determine where it is available other than by examining each individual point of interest.  From time to time, Bing acquires improved overhead photography for various areas.  We do not attempt to monitor such improvements; but when we happen to find them in the course of maintaining a site data page, we will add an appropriate locator map link.

Why are these usage hints important?

The Bing Maps service is aimed at the general user, and the online help seems to expect that most aspects of its maps and controls are intuitive.  Since we have spent time figuring out how best to use Bing Maps, we supply some additional help for the most pertinent features.  (We will welcome suggestions for further improvements; please use the email link at the bottom of this page.)

This page which you are now reading explains what you might not find intuitive, and also explains how we use that service.  It emphasizes what controls are especially useful in this context. 

How can I get a different view of the site surroundings?

Bing Maps has only a few options to customize the map to explore a local area.

Why might I want a different view of the site and its surroundings?

When a bird's eye view of a place is available from Bing Maps, there may be up to three other views of the same place also available - one from each of the other three major points of the compass.  You can reach them by using the rotate control described in the preceding answer.

What other map controls are available?

There are other controls along the top border of the map (near the left end), but we don't use any of them.  Explore at your own risk!

I tinkered with the map controls too much, and now I'm lost.  How do I get back to the original version?

Try the "Back" or "Reload" features of your Web browser.  (This may be a menu selection or a toolbar button.) 

Why isn't the map embedded directly in the site data page?

Bing Maps does not appear to offer that option for its bird's eye views.

Is there an easy way to get driving directions to/from the site?

Bing Maps offers Get Directions in the left panel of the window.  We have not tested it, and have no idea how easy it might be to use nor how accurate it might be.


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This page was created 2010/01/04 and last revised 2010/04/30.
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