Ecstatic Bing Maps Enthusiast? Almost.

I am enthusiastic and very pleased.  Bing Maps routing is damn near perfect.

Here’s a Quick Answer for seekers of “how do I save a Route so I can work on it again?”  I’m sure I’ll be a seeker in another 3 months, 9 months, or a year from now.

Don’t use Google Maps; the workarounds are too bizarre. 

Use Bing Maps.  When ready to quit working on a route for the day, email it to yourself.  When ready to work on it again, click on the URL inside the email.  Work on it.  DON’T forget to email it to yourself again.

Oh, and use Internet Explorer 8+.  Chrome was choking on some popup windows. I don’t know about Opera or Firefox or whatever.  This blog/rant isn’t about browser incompatibilities.

I’m pretty happy with my emailing workaround.  If the Bing Maps programmers knew what I was trying to do, and if they made a couple of minor changes to the [My places editor], I could be freaking ecstatic.

Update:  as a measure of how confusing it was to try to find the expected [Save] I found a stupidly ineffective way to email myself a copy.  The Easy Way was right in front of me, but by that time I’d stopped looking for obvious.  Obvious is just click on the speedy looking [Envelope icon].  I will leave my embarrassingly tortured route just as a wrote it, as follows.

How do you email the route to yourself?  It’s easy to do.  It’s also so totally non-intuitive.  Start while you are looking at your route in Internet Explorer 9.

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First, click the [Star icon] that hover-reveals “See your places” in the lower left quadrant.

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Your [My places] window pops up.  Don’t click on any.  Click [Actions].  Click [Send].  Click [Email] (shown below after the first two clicks, Action, Send).

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I use Outlook.  Following the third click, on [Email], Outlook starts an email with a long URL in the body.  Notice that my waypoints “Peach Blossom Dr”, “Lawrence KS”, “Denver” are given with their GPS positions.  Look carefully and ignore the HTML encoding “%2C%20” stuff.  I was so surprised.  Aren’t you surprised?  I think you should be.  I started in the context of my route, but changed to the context of [My places editor] where my route is nowhere to be seen.  If I were going to email one of my places, I would expect—in this context—to be emailing the first place in the list.

As a matter of fact, and this blows my mind, if you click on any of your places, the pushpins will appear on the map, but they will NOT be included in the URL sent in your email.  My context and Bing’s context are obviously not shared.

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Some background about where I came from on this.  I take long road trips from time to time.  Have always used Google Maps to play around with the length of each driving day, determined by diversions to parks near the route, cheap but good places to stay, balancing long days with short.

I take a long trip once a year or so.  Consequently, because I forget unpleasant experiences as quickly as I can, each time, I waste an hour or so looking for the last step, how to save the route so I can return to it and play around with my options.  More accurately, I save the route, and then some time later return to play around with it, and am dumbfounded once again that much of the goodness has evaporated.

Well, then, after rebuilding the route from scratch, presuming that I fumbled the [Save] last time, I start looking for how to save the google route in it’s entire richness. 

And so, six months or a year after I last did this, I end up once again googling for the answer:  “You can’t.”  More and more frequently lately, I end up binging for the answer, but that’s another rant that other people have been venting quite well so here I need not do that. 

I have to piece together this answer, “you can’t”, from ambiguous bits of forum conversations (seekers and solvers don’t realize that they are each talking about saving different stuff) and finally convince myself that it’s true:  If you want to save a google route, configured just so, AND some time later make some changes to the route, despite all of the appearances that this is possible, you are out of luck. 

Yes, despite your reasonably formed expectations to the contrary, it is not possible to save a google route so that you can open it back up and see the mileages, times, and directions with your annotations.  You can see the directions and your annotations.  If you have a website you can try building a map on a page there and maybe annotate it with mileages and times.  I think I did that once as a workaround, but that certainly was not my main intent.

But, if you want to re-route, that’s what you must do:  build it again, from scratch.

And if you want to see mileages for “a day of driving”, open up the calculator and punch in the numbers.

So I was delighted by the Bing Maps trip routing; if you add waypoints (A, B, C, …), it gives segment (A-B, B-C, C-D, …) mileage and driving duration. 

Here is what the waypoints look like.

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And here is what the trip segments (trip legs, sections) look like.  See the A-B:  550.5 miles, 8 hr 1 min.  That’s what made me so happy.

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Hallelujah!  How difficult was that?

I was delighted.  And apprehensive.  The apprehension was warranted.  I blew away a couple of hours looking, binging, googling, and finally, by clicking with stubborn persistence on everything that was reasonable or not, finding the simple and simply unintuitive workaround given above.

I started:  How do you save stuff here?  Scan the upper right quadrant, looking for [Save] or [My something…].  Scan the other quadrants.  Bing for a quick answer.  Help for a quick answer.  In the forums, there’s a familiar smell in air, seekers and solvers talking at cross purposes.  I had, much the same, finally found the Star  in the lower left quadrant, a Favorites-meme-alike that opens [My places editor].

I played around with [My places editor] for a while, hoping to find how to save my route.  Saving some places.  Figuring out how to move them into a List of my own making.  Whoa, “Keep it simple, stupid” turned into “Keep it simple AND stupid”.  Click on a place in a list of [My places], in the popup click [copy], choose a list, (didn’t make a list yet?  Then return to square one and come back to here to choose a list), then return to the other list and click on the original place, and in the popup, [delete] it.

Oh, yes, and did my route disappear while I was clicking around to find this Grail of Click Sequences?  Yes, in all the clicking around, it disappears.  To get back to the route you are working on is simple.  Just press Backspace as many times as necessary. 

Glad that works. Get that route map back in view and try finding a click-sequence that saves the thing.  No?  No.  I kept returning to [Edit route] expecting that surely where one edits one can save.  No. And No. And No again.  No [Save] anywhere.  Had I exhausted all possible click sequences.  No, but I did feel I had Backspaced my way back to my route map far too many times.

Okay, so I cruised forums until I was tired and had forgotten what I was looking for.

Déjà vu!  My nose was right:  in Bing Maps as in Google Maps, “you can’t”.

As with Google Maps, in Bing Maps it seems perfectly reasonable to expect that having allowed you to spend a bunch of time composing a route for a trip, the same programmers would have provided a way to save the fruits of this work.

Click on the [Star] icon and a place to save places (location points with Title and Description and Tags and storage containers called Lists) is provided.  Surely the place to save the route is right here too.  But no, it isn’t.

Yet, it shouldn’t be difficult to provide.  Here’s how an agile programmer might write the Use Case descriptions.

Use Case 1: 

Bing Maps Enthusiast creates a route.  Enthusiast looks for [Save Route].  Would it kill to put some text in the [Edit route] window, “click on the star to save your route”?  Enthusiast can’t find it, but does find [Star icon].  Clicks.  [My places and routes editor] pops up (with a new name)  showing “route n+1” in [Unsaved places and routes].  Enthusiast clicks [Save now], changes Title etc.  Looks for a collection to move to (oops, dropdown is needed).  Enthusiast selects collection.  Clicks [Save].  Enthusiast is Very Very Happy.

Use Case 2:

Bing Maps Enthusiast returns to Bing Maps.  Looks for the [Star] icon. Clicks.  Clicks [My places and routes].  Selects list.   Sees route saved earlier.  Clicks.  Route appears with routing and option to [Edit route].  Enthusiast is Flaming Fantastically Ecstatic.

Yes, I know I can email it to myself if I know (and remember) the magic click sequence.  But do I feel Ecstatic?  Did you read this far?  Do you feel ecstatic?

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2 comments on “Ecstatic Bing Maps Enthusiast? Almost.
  1. Larry says:

    Spent a couple of hours diddling around with this just because I was getting so frustrated with the lack of a Save corresponding to an Edit. Still don’t think that that expectation is unreasonable. Yet I missed the most obvious workaround. Have updated this post to reflect the realization that I been a dummy.

  2. Yohan Partan says:

    This is quite the blog! It should be on CNET.com for something. Really enjoyed reading it. I’ll use Bing maps whenever Katy and I feel like going on a road trip, of course with all the free time that we have together…

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