More Grist for the Mill

Well it seems my web pages concerning the Helmert transform are being read - but not by Bill Gates and his cronies.

Anthony Hunt carries the mantle...


Dear Mappoint MSDN,

I have a major problem (a known bug in fact) with Microsoft Mappoint 2002 European Edition, but the mappoint website has no support. Online support has no option to choose Mappoint as a product for support, and there are no phone numbers listed on the web or in the Mappoint packaging (god forbid there might be a manual).

Can you please point me to the stone your support people are hiding under so I can rattle their cage, because I getting very frustrated here!

My problem (documented very well at is that Mappoint 2002 cannot plot the British Ordnance Survey Map coordinate system. When Eastings and Northings are input using pushpin import to get the location, the point is inaccurate by anything up to 200 metres! I am sure you would agree that this is a problem. However Microsoft have no documentation of this error (that I can find anyway) and no service pack, or fix. Why not?

I would have thought that mapping software that cannot use the British Government's own map data constituted something of a bug, yes?

We have authored a software package using MS development tools (VB, Access, SQL 7) and are having to integrate with a third party mapping package (Directions InfoMap) because Mappoint has this major deficiancy. Since all the local government departments we supply to, use the Ordnance Survey address data, we can plot locations to within 10cm currently, but even using the third party bug fix for Mappoint, the best we get is around 5 meters! Can't you do better? Or at least supply a companion application to make a one time conversion of Easting & Northings into Latitude & Longditude in a spreadsheet or MDB.

If you are serious about supplying a professional mapping package in the UK then you have to take this issue seriously!


Anthony Hunt 

magnus frater spectat te

I reply. It may have been a bit over the top and off beam. But I was having a bad time.


Dear Mr Hunt

Thanks for composing that email! I used to write letters like that years ago!


I worked with them - nice people but:

1, They are not too sure where the UK is. Most of them have never left the state they were born in, let alone have a passport.

2, Never confront an American. Do not say: "You are wrong - you should do it like this". Say: "You are quite correct. Have you considered doing it like this?"

3, They don't understand our cynical humour. They had to add laughter tracks to Monty Python to tell them when to laugh! (But they do produce "The Simpsons" which can be very witty! There are exceptions!)

The MapPoint Problem

The MapPoint problem I Identified whilst contracting at TrafficMaster (road traffic congestion reporting - blue cameras on UK trunk roads.) It's pretty import to know where your road-side sensors are! 

The Helmert fix I chose to publish on the web is in a self-contained module that can be "unplugged" when Bill Gates fixes the issue. (First raised with Microsoft in December 2001 - I think.)

It may be easier to get the Ordnance Survey to move all their trig points 200 metres, and re-issue all their maps.

Resolving the issue

I dunno. But here's a story:

Between 1998 and 2000 I worked for a large American bank. All internal documentation was on the bank's intranet. The standard browsers were IE4 and Netscape. American staff could print out pages using their "letter" size printers. All would be fine.

The poor Brits would print out using "A4". A quarter inch of text would be missing. Irritating.

We reported the bug. We reported the bug many times. Even with the bank's "sit on Bill's lap" super dooper support the issue was not resolved in the various "fixes".

I attended the PDC - a conference for developers. We mingle at the final cheese and biscuits bash. My colleagues and I pin down the good lady in charge of internet browser development.

She takes us seriously as we demonstrate the problem by setting a printer to A4 and print from IE4. She is most concerned. She is attentive. 

IE5 now prints fine. 

What am I trying to say?

The ISO body that defines the size of A4 paper is similarly despised by Microsoft - as Microsoft despise the Ordnance Survey?


Microsoft is full of nice people. (I worked with some. Green, straight out of college, and rather cuddly!) 

People make mistakes.

Just persist with reporting this bug! (Personal counselling, meditation, strong religious faith will all help.)



(Sitting 200 metres from where he really is.)

 Mr Hunt replies:


Thanks for that Nick.

Tell me, is there a simply way to pass easting and northing to your converter? I don't have my co-ordinates in the Grid Square form.

Or, is there some way of converting all eastings and northings to lat-longs in one pass? I have replicated the formula published by OS "Appendix C - Converting easting and northing to latitude and longditude". The formula was a nightmare, but I got it working and it produces the expected result (as documented by OS) but the subsequent lat/long is NOT correct for mappoint.

If I convert 575129 E & 155881 N (our office location) to lat/long I get 51.274613693828 & 0.511060325212525 (when I should get 51.275166667 & 0.5093888889)

I then found out about OSNT97 so I attempted to write in the conversion

Any ideas that could help?

I reply:


try this source

It's in C#

 Mr Hunt replies:



A quick experiment with the new information that I gleaned from your article on MapPoint's little bug, proved rather successful.

This is a single postal code area of Wolverhampton, plotted from the OS Address Point database.

Using my own conversion routine, the locations seem nearly spot on. 

I translate Easting & Northing to Lat/Long, but with WGS84 elipsoid then apply OSTN97 shift. Voila! 

I am off to the "Geo Solutions 2002" show at Earls Court in September. I am planning a loud protest at the Microsoft stand! Do you have any documentation (emails) that show this bug has been reported to Microsoft? I want to see if I can commit them to releasing a service pack (I'm taking a video camera with me).

If not, I'll put their representive's excuses on video and post them to the internet everywhere I can!!!

"Cannot use the British Ordnance Survey co-ordinate system?" That'll teach you.


Anthony Hunt 

magnus frater spectat te

I reply:


Hi Big Brother!

Well done!

I have no record to hand of when I officially reported the bug - that was while I was working on my previous contract. 

I did report the bug to Microsoft MapPoint Developer Wish List in November 2001.

My text and reply is here

I'll add you emails to my web pages - more grist for the mill!