Geocortex Essentials allows administrators to add Bing Maps services to their applications, in both Web ADF Elements and in our REST Elements architecture. 

Traditionally connecting to Bing Maps was a bit of a headache since you (the administrator) had to acquire a Bing Maps token using a special Bing Maps username and password.  Also, the token would expire so application logic had to be written to re-acquire a token once it had expired.  There’s actually more details involved with tokens than I’d prefer to get into in this post – perhaps it’s enough to say it wasn’t entirely straightforward.

Well, recently Microsoft has “deprecated” the notion of Staging VS Production services, and access to Bing Maps can now be managed via a “Bing Maps Key”.  To acquire a Bing Maps Key, you use your Bing Maps Developer Account (which actually uses your Windows Live ID).  More information on acquiring keys can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff428642.aspx

Access to Bing Maps via tokens is still supported by Microsoft.  They suggest that tokens are only required if you require transaction reporting (discovering how many requests your users are sending to Bing Maps).

To be honest, I was initially a bit frustrated with this change – particularly with the timing: right before the ArcGIS 10 final release (and the corresponding 2.0 client API releases), and therefore right before our Geocortex Essentials 3.0 release.  Changes in underlying architecture mean that we have to change our software to cooperate.  After implementing the change to ensure Geocortex Essentials and our client APIs will work with Bing Maps keys, my frustration melted away.  The keys are a much cleaner, easier way to work with Bing Maps, and they don’t expire.