Easy Tip: Ensure your Bing map layers look good

MapInfo Pro™ Monthly Journal
Easy Tip: Ensure your Bing map layers look good
Raster Have you ever noticed your Bing map layers looking a little grainy or fuzzy? The Pitney Bowes Technical Support department occasionally gets questions about this. This article has two tips to help ensure your Bing maps are displayed optimally. These are (1) to use the enhanced rendering and (2) you can zoom the map to match up to the native scale of the Bing tile server.

This article pertains to both the 32 and 64 bit releases of MapInfo Pro. 

Tip 1: Turn on Enhanced Rendering

This tip applies to raster imagery of all types, not just the Bing mapping layers. Below is an image comparing the same map with enhanced rendering on and off. 

enhanced rendering
Left: No enhanced rendering. Right: Enhanced rendering has been turned on. 

Enhanced rendering is turned on in the Map Options.
  • In the 64 bit ribbon interface: In the Map tab, click the Map Options button (Options group).

    Map Options button
  • In the 32 bit interface: In the Map menu, click on Options.
The dialog box that appears is the same in both versions: 

Map Options dialog 

You have two choices for smoothing the images, Low Quality or High Quality. The High Quality option will provide better smoothing but you may notice a difference in the time it takes to render the map. 

Set the system default for Enhanced Rendering

If you wish, you can have the Enhanced Rendering settings turned on by default. These are controlled by a preference.
  • In the 64 bit ribbon interface: In the Backstage area (the Pro tab) click on Styles.
  • In the 32 bit interface: Click on Options > Preferences > Styles.
The Enhanced rendering settings are highlighted in the dialog box as shown below. 

Set default preference 

Once again, the above techniques apply to all raster imagery data. The next tip below is specific to the Microsoft Bing image layers.

The nature of Bing map tiles

Using the Enhanced rendering capabilities to smooth the images helps a lot. But even with this capability turned on you may sometimes notice that the Bing layers look just a little bit "fuzzy". 

The background to this is that the Bing layers are pre-generated maps. There are different maps created at different scales. As such each will display optimally at (or near) the original scale for which it was designed. Notice that when you use an online tile mapping service, you can zoom in and out only at increments set by the service. (At least the well-known popular services such as Google Maps and Bing maps are like this.) This is different from MapInfo Pro where you can zoom in and out to any zoom level or scale you desire. 

In the map below, the image on the left is at a zoom of 4.5 km. This is not coincident with the scale at which the particular Bing Hybrid layer tile was created for. This may be somewhat subjective but take a good look at the map. You may notice certain elements appear to be at a slightly lower resolution making them look a bit grainy, jagged or fuzzy. The highway shield symbols or some of the text may exhibit this.

In the map at the right, the map is at a native zoom for the Bing Hybrid layer (which happens to be 5.83 km). The overall image quality is better. 

Nearest tile server layer
In the map on the right, the zoom level matches the native scale of the Tile Server

The Nearest Tile Server Layer

MapInfo Pro offers a command to zoom the map to the nearest Tile Server layer. This command will help you to ensure that the Bing map layers are displayed in an optimal manner. This is likely to require a change in the zoom of your map.
  • In both the 64 bit ribbon interface and the 32 bit interface, the command to zoom to the nearest tile server layer is available by right-clicking in the Map window.
  • In the 64 bit ribbon interface, the command Zoom to Nearest Tile Server Layer can also be found in the Zoom to drop down list on the Map tab. The command is in the Navigate group.

    Zoom to dropdown
  • In the 32 bit interface, the command Change Zoom to Nearest Tile Server layer is in the Map menu.

Executing the Nearest Tile Server Level command will zoom the map to the nearest level such that the Bing layer is displayed optimally.

If you have more than one Bing layer in the map window, you will be prompted with the choice of which Bing layer to apply the command to. The native zoom levels for the different Bing layers vary. 

Do you have the latest version of MapInfo Pro? 

If not, a free trial is available.

Links to MapInfo Pro free trials in a number of languages can be found here:

Article by Tom Probert, Editor of "The MapInfo Pro" journal
When not writing articles for "The MapInfo Pro" journal, Tom enjoys talking to MapInfo Pro users at conferences and events. When not working he likes to see movies with car chases, explosions and kung-fu fighting.
UPDATED:  June 30, 2017