Guided Tour of MPMileage: Location Options
The original version of MPMileage could only work with locations specified with pushpins. MPMileage 2.0 introduced support for geographic (longitude, latitude) coordinates, and street addresses.
The input location type is set using the Locations drop down box in the Input Columns box of the Database Parameters dialog box. The Set Columns button is used to set the actual input column assignments in the database.
This is the Input Locations dialog box set to work with pushpins. Each location only requires one text field that lists the pushpin. Hence, only two fields need to be set. A MapPoint (ptm) map file also has to be provided in the Database Parameters dialog box. This map file contains all of the pushpins referenced in these two data fields.
MPMileage can also use street addresses, "geocoding" (ie. locating) them at run time. As can be seen from the image of the Input Locations dialog box (see right), this option has a lot more data fields that need to be set. These include street address, city, zipcode, region/State, and country. The country can be hard-coded for all locations, or set on a location-by-location basis for international route calculations.
This option is potentially very convenient because you do not have to locate your street addresses before calculating the route mileages. However, it is easy to introduce errors . MapPoint may not be able to locate all street addresses due to changing roads and typo/formatting errors. Therefore in order to use this option efficiently, you should only use it if you know your data is already "clean".
Most of the street address fields are optional because you may not have all of the data present. For example, if you are in the US you do not need Other City, and zipcode will suffice instead of State. Also you may want to only map at an intermediate level such as City,State; or Zipcode.
Finding distances between zipcode centroids is a particularly common application, and the Input Locations dialog box image (right) shows MPMileage set for this situation. This can work with any country's postcode system, but be sure to set the country and be aware that MapPoint will use the postcode centroid locations for routing.
Finally, MPMileage can also work with geographic coordinates. The source and destination locations each require two floating point number fields - longitude and latitude. These follow MapPoint's standard formatting for coordinates: decimal degrees with positive values for the northern and eastern hemispheres.
Coordinates can be very fast and reliable, and do not require a pushpin map file. However, you need to have the coordinates available. They could be recorded 'by hand' using a handheld GPS device, or they could be geocoded using MapPoint or an online geocoding service such as Bing Maps.
Next we look at the MapPoint routing options.