Microsoft has announced the availability of a software development kit (SDK) for building map apps on Bing Maps. What's more, last week Microsoft announced the creation of the Bing Search Library for PHP - a wrapper built in conjunction with PHP expert Cal Evans that gives developers easy access to the Bing Search API via PHP. Microsoft seems to be embracing third-party developers more openly now with these tools, so here's a breakdown of what's available now.Good news for developers and fans of mashups, as this morning
Bing Map App SDK
Bing Map App Gallery - a collection of map mashups for showing data overlaid on Bing maps - has been fenced-off to third-party map app development. The gallery has only featured Microsoft-built apps, like Photosynth, or those from partner sites, like Twitter or Foursquare. Now, however, Microsoft is opening the gates for anyone to create and upload a map app - well, almost anyone.Previously, the
To build apps, developers will need a Microsoft Live ID to access the SDK, a Windows box running Visual Studio 2010 to build the application, and a browser with the Silverlight plug-in to view the apps. Microsoft is also placing an Apple-esque app store submission process in place for the map mashups, requiring developers to submit apps for review and approval.
To kick off the opening of the SDK, Microsoft has also unveiled a pair of new apps from partner sites today. An app from WeatherBug lets users visualize various weather related data on Bing Maps, and another from panoramic and 3D image service EveryScape helps users find interesting imagery from inside restaurants.
Bing Search Library for PHP
Announced last week, the Bing Search Library for PHP is a wrapper that allows developers to easily harness the power of Bing Search on dynamic Web pages. In the example shown by creator Cal Evans, developers can contextually place domain restricted search results from Bing onto web pages based on any search query - and it's all done from within the PHP written to power the site.
"The Bing API is very straightforward and most importantly, consistent in design," says Evans. "The Bing API is easy to work with, powerful, and since Google doesn't give you access to this information from an API, unique."
Evans says the current wrapper only includes support for the Search API, but that he hopes future releases will support other Bing API hooks, such as News, Translation and more.