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Alpha is a measure of opacity. MapPoint only supports two levels of alpha: 0% (fully transparent) and 100% (fully opaque).


Bing Maps

Bing Maps is Microsoft's online map service. Previously known as Virtual Earth, Bing Maps includes a number of services and toolkits. The most popular is the 'AJAX' JavaScript control which is supported by MPSuperShape's web page export option.


Closed Polygon

Technically all polygons are closed. MapPoint has the concept of a 'freeform shape' which is defined by an arbitrary number of data points. This shape can be a polyline or a polygon. A polyline is 'open' and has two ends. A polygon is 'closed' and forms a loop.


Coordinate System

Points on a map are referenced using coordinates. The most common global coordinate system uses longitude and latitude values on a WGS84 geoid. However, there are hundreds of other coordinate systems in common usage that use a range of different projections, geoids, origins, and units. MPSuperShape supports most of these for file formats that support different coordinate systems


Drive Time Zone

A Drive Time Zone is a polygon shape that MapPoint can draw around a point. The polygon represents the distance that can be driven to in a specified time span (eg. 30 minutes).


ESRI Shapefile

The ESRI Shapefile is one of the most common geospatial file formats in common usage today. The main shapefile has an extension '.shp' but it shuld be accompanied by a number of files including '.shx' (index), '.dbf' (database), and '.prj' (projection). MPSuperShape can import and export shapefiles. Note: Shapefiles do not include any visualization information such as color or symbols.


Freeform Shapes

MapPoint supports a number of shape types such as 'oval' and 'rectangle'. MPSuperShape was originally created to manipulate 'freeform' shapes. Freeform shapes consist of a number of corner points (vertices) which are joined up. The shape can be open (a polyline with two ends) or closed (a polygon loop). Note that MapPoint freeform shapes do not support holes.


Geographic Coordinates

These are coordinates specified as longitude and latitude values in decimal degrees. MapPoint's geographic coordinate system is based on the WGS84 geoid and uses positive values for the northern and eastern hemispheres.


Geography Markup Language (GML)

This is an XML-based file format for geospatial information. The format is heavy of information and relationships and does not include any style or visualization information. The GML schema is designed as a build-block schema to be used when creating a new schema for a specific application.



A geoid is an ellipsoid that is used to approximate the Earth's surface. It is used as a part of a Coordinate System. MapPoint, GPS, and most online mapping uses the WGS84 geoid which is a good general purpose global geoid. Other geoids may be chosen to produce better fits for specific areas, eg. Airy 1830 is used in the UK.


Google Earth

Google Earth is a desktop application for whole Earth visualization. Originally known as 'Keyhole', the popular KML file format was originally created for Google Earth. Google Earth is the only application or renderer that supports all of KML's features.


Google Maps

Google Maps is Google's geospatial web toolkit. It is primarily used with a JavaScript AJAX control, and this is the version supported by MPSuperShape's web page export option.



KML originally stood for 'Keyhole Markup Language' although Keyhole no longer exists as an independent product. Originally created for Keyhole (now Google Earth), KML is the de facto standard for web mapping markup. In common with GML, it is based on XML, except the emphasis is on visualization rather than meaning. As such it is an excellent choice for map annotation.


Mapinfo MIF

MapInfo MIF is a popular geospatial file format. Unlike ESRI shapefiles, MIF files include some basic visualization information such as color.



A MapPoint freeform shape that has two ends. These shapes are defined by a list of vertices. Set the start and end points to be the same to form a closed polygon.


PRJ File

A PRJ (.prj) file stores projection and coordinate system information. They are often supplied with ESRI shapefiles. MPSuperShape can read and write PRJ files when importing or exporting ESRI shapefiles.



MapPoint marks point information with a pushpin. Pushpins include a point location, name, and either text note or imported data fields.


Pushpin Sets

A Pushpin Set is a MapPoint dataset of pushpins.


Union Operation

MPSuperShape's Union operation combines two shapes into one. Ex example application would be to combine individual drive time zones into one combined drive time zone for all sales offices.


UTM Zone

UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) is a global coordinate system. This divides the globe into a series of UTM zones and two polar (UPS) zones, in order to minimize spatial distortion. When using a UTM coordinate system it is important that you choose the correct zone that includes your data.


Virtual Earth

The old name for Microsoft's Bing Maps service.



The WGS84 geoid is used to define the datum used in MapPoint's coordinate system WGS84 was originally designed for use by the GPS satellite system for global use. It is also the most popular geoid used for online mapping applications.


Z Order

MapPoint can position shapes, pushpins, and other objects above or below others. For example, shapes can be positioned 'below' roads so that roads are visible. This "above or below" is known as the "Z Order".