Mapping Re-Design


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By TallPaul on 23/11/13 at 2:10pm

We've been saying for a little while now that we have been working on a "ground up" re-write of our mapping software for route planning to free us from only being able to use Ordnance Survey tiles or tiles using the same projection (i.e. our OpenMap tiles). We've now done that and we can create any brew of tiles we like, so now for example we can mix 1,25,000 tiles and aerial photography from Bing with OpenMaps tiles for smaller scales.

With the help of Steve, who's a member of our openmaps mailing list and who volunteered to do some initial testing for us, we are now are the point where we would like to let a few more people give it a try.

It looks a bit different to the old software, for example when you zoom in and out it first relies on the browser to re-size the tiles until it's had time to retrieve the correct scale tiles from the map server, and we've also shuffled around where things are placed and given you the ability to place route and track detail boxes where you prefer. However the basic functionality is much as before but with changes:

  1. OS Explorer 1:25,000 scale mapping (for registered users)

  2. Aerial photography (for registered users)

  3. Use of our OpenMaps for smaller scales on maps.the-hug.net in order to reduce tile usage on that site

  4. Display of a scale bar bottom right

  5. smarter track editing

  6. Context sensitive help

  7. Tips popup for new users

I've done a little video to demonstrate the basic features which you might like to take a look at before you begin (apologies if I sound a bit nasal: I think I'm going down with something).

You can try it in three incarnations:

What we would like you to do is give it a try and give us some feedback, both on what you think of it and on any bugs and issues you find. To comment just or, assuming that you've registered with WalkLakes, feel free to post to this forum.

In particular, being a Linux house, we have mainly tested it on the latest Firefox, Chrome and Opera on Linux. Steve has been testing it on some other platforms and we have also tested it on Internet Explorer 8 on Windows XP and this week we've done a little testing on Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 8.1 but it's early days on that yet.

We have had some issues with IE8 on Windows XP which we can't get to the bottom of at the moment. One in particular is proving hard to fix and this video illustrates the issue. It would be interesting to know what your experience if you're using Internet Explorer, be it Internet Explorer 8 or any other release, so we can try to narrow down who is likely to be affected.

Future Roadmap

What we've done to date is largely to give you the same functionality you had with the old software but with the addition of 1:25,000 and aerial photography tiles for registered users. The next stage is to start adding new features and we still have lots to do there. Our list currently includes:

  1. Registered users should be able to to configure the software the way they want and have it remembered e.g. colour of tracks and routes

  2. Registered users should be able to store your tracks and routes on our server and the generate URLs for display on their own web site or blog or on social media like facebook or Twitter

  3. Registered users should be able to store named points on the map and "permalink" to them for reference in on their own web site or blog or on social media or in email

  4. Option to suppress the waypoint labels in routes

  5. Option to include elevation tags in routes

Helping Fund Our Work

If you use our mapping and you want to help fund it you can do so at no additional cost to you by buying goods from Amazon via this link or you can become a supporter (see the option in the mapping application menu). Thank you for your support.


By TallPaul on 23/11/13 at 2:58pm

By the way if you are reporting issues can you post each issue as a new topic, that way it's easier to track. It would also help if you can produce screen shots or, even better, videos if the issue is easier to explain that way.

There's a page here on our site about how to generate a screen shot on Windows XP. I'm afraid I don't (as yet) know how to do it on Windows 8, or indeed on Apple.


By TallPaul on 25/11/13 at 10:46am

As I said in my little video we had dropped the pan and zoom controls which used to be shown top right. Eifion reported that as a Mac user this was causing him problems so we've put a simple +/- zoom control back.


By pistolrider on 26/11/13 at 5:57pm

A massive improvement. I might be wrong but I found previously that the summit of some hills were not quite at the grid ref, I expected them to be at. I have tested a few on the new map and they all appear to be in the right place. :D


By TallPaul on 26/11/13 at 7:31pm

Good, I'm glad it's working well for you. We've only just begun really though: this was largely just getting back to where we were before (plus 1:25K and aerial photography). From here we're planning a whole range of enhancements to the software, especially for registered users.


By pistolrider on 28/11/13 at 5:18pm

come on Paul give us a clue to your intentions for the maps. Its already an excellent tool for route planning, I cannot believe it can be improved on.

If its anything that improves it further I will have a word with my mate ....The Queen..... and see if we can sort you out with a Knighthood. :D


By TallPaul on 28/11/13 at 8:09pm

Well I said in my OP:

The next stage is to start adding new features and we still have lots to do there. Our list currently includes:

  1. Registered users should be able to to configure the software the way they want and have it remembered e.g. colour of tracks and routes

  2. Registered users should be able to store your tracks and routes on our server and the generate URLs for display on their own web site or blog or on social media like facebook or Twitter

  3. Registered users should be able to store named points on the map and "permalink" to them for reference in on their own web site or blog or on social media or in email

  4. Option to suppress the waypoint labels in routes

  5. Option to include elevation tags in routes

But on top of that I also want to make storing a track (or possibly even loading it) offer to automagically update your log book as I can fairly easily work out which tops you've reached on your walk. So for hill baggers this will make their lives easier. I'd also like to integrate that with the walk reports here so as to tempt people, having uploaded a track, to write a report on their walk in the forum.

I'm also looking at using Google "Satellite" in preference to Bing Aerial, mainly to try to keep our Bing tile usage down (which may be a problem as the year progresses, depending on how popular logging in is). I may also put Google Satellite on http://maps.the-hug.net as the aerial photography option, if I can get it working.

But somewhere in the midst of all of this I need to earn some money, and I don't yet make any by writing mapping software ... well not directly anyway.


By pistolrider on 29/11/13 at 12:56pm

No, no, Paul. What this earn money thing, you must learn how to live on fresh air and start on the improvemennts immediately. Now get on with it. :lol:

Had a word with Her Maj...........I shall be looking out for your name in the New Years Honours List ;)


By James on 29/11/13 at 10:32pm

I'll miss the 1:50k Landranger maps, but thank you all the same for providing and supporting a decent, free mapping site.


By TallPaul on 29/11/13 at 10:59pm

Don't forget you can still get 1:50K Landranger on http://maps.the-hug.net, and now that we're spreading the load, and also using the OpenMaps tiles for a the larger scales, we can leave OpenSpace active all day long again without blowing the tile limit. Tonight for example people have only used 32838 tiles out of our 65000 daily allowance. So unless you need 1:25K and/or aerial photography stick with http://maps.the-hug.net and just come here when you need to.


By James on 03/12/13 at 1:03am

Thanks for that.

One bug I am experiencing is that I see the 'Login or Register for OS 1:25K maps & aerial photography' message even if I log/have logged in. Also, map transitions/movement seems generally much slower.


By TallPaul on 03/12/13 at 9:19am

One bug I am experiencing is that I see the 'Login or Register for OS 1:25K maps & aerial photography' message even if I log/have logged in.

Hmmm ... I saw that too, but only on IE8. What browser and OS are you using?

Also, map transitions/movement seems generally much slower.

Is that on both http://maps.the-hug.net and http://www.walklakes.co.uk/maps or more on one that the other? And if you know how to generate a screen video (like I did to introduce the app) to demonstrate this which you could put somewhere for me to grab that might be useful ...


By James on 06/12/13 at 3:19am

TallPaul wrote:

James wrote:

One bug I am experiencing is that I see the 'Login or Register for OS 1:25K maps & aerial photography' message even if I log/have logged in.

Hmmm ... I saw that too, but only on IE8. What browser and OS are you using?

Sorry for the late reply.

I'm using Vista 64 with SP2. Browser is Firefox 25.0.1.

Also, map transitions/movement seems generally much slower.

Is that on both http;//maps.the-hug.net and http://www.walklakes.co.uk/maps or more on one that the other? And if you know how to generate a screen video (like I did to introduce the app) to demonstrate this which you could put somewhere for me to grab that might be useful ...

I'll have to d/l something to make a video with, but I only use maps.the-hug.net for browsing.


By TallPaul on 06/12/13 at 9:57pm

OK, well, we've been talking about this and we have a suspicion we can explain part of it. In order to get 1:25K mapping and aerial photography you have to log in to WalkLakes and then use the mapping there i.e. http://www.walklakes.co.uk/maps - it you log in to WalkLakes but then go back to http://maps.the-hug.net you will be no better off.

We think the message at the top of the page in http://maps.the-hug.net was a little ambiguous in that regard so you'll see that we've now changed it to, hopefully, make it clear.

AS for "map transitions/movement seems generally much slower" it is certainly different: the underlying library OpenLayers has a different way of handling that to OS OpenSpace (which is built on top of OpenLayers but has been fairly heavily modified by OS internally to suit their mapping requirements). The biggest change is the one I mentioned in the original post:

It looks a bit different to the old software, for example when you zoom in and out it first relies on the browser to re-size the tiles until it's had time to retrieve the correct scale tiles from the map server

And I'm wondering if that's what you're seeing, but without seeing a video of what you're seeing it's hard to be sure.


By dml2 on 05/01/14 at 8:10pm

I can't see any O.S. maps either on The Hug or Walk Lakes. I am aware of the daily tile limits and I tried yesterday after midnight when there would be a new tile allowance and also today around 20:00. Even on maximum zoom, I only see OSM maps and no message about tile limits. I was able to see some OS maps on Walk Highlands however.

Web browser is Firefox 26.0 for Windows XP


By beth on 05/01/14 at 8:33pm

Hello dml2. Both are currently serving OS 50k or 25k appropriately for me, so... are you logged in? - yes I know you've just posted but does the mapping app recognise you?! - this is shown by saying "Logged in as dml2" on the right side of the bar at the top on WalkLakes mapping. I only ask in case there's been a quirk in the software.

On http://maps.the-hug.net/ what logos are shown on the bottom left of the maps as you zoom in/out?


By dml2 on 05/01/14 at 10:12pm

I am logged in and it says "Logged in as dml2" on the top right hand side of the screen. I also tried using Internet Explorer 8.0.6001 but the same thing happens, I can only zoom in as far as 200 pixels per km on Walklakes.

If I go to http://maps.the-hug.net/ then I first get a message saying that we have collectively used 37823 tiles out of 65000. On the lower left corner, it says "Powered by BigV" at all zoom levels and shows OSM maps but I can't zoom any further than 200 pixels/km with the new type zoom buttons.

If I go to http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/maps/ and log in then I can zoom in to maximum with the old type zoom buttons and I see O.S. 1:25k at 400 pixels/km.

The Hug used to allow me to see O.S. 1:50k and Walklakes used to allow me to see O.S 1:25k. Thanks for three brilliant mapping web sites.


By TallPaul on 05/01/14 at 10:32pm

OK, I think I can see what's going on: the software isn't handling changes of map server correctly when you use the zoom buttons to zoom. Only scroll wheel zooming is working reliably. Bit late to start trying to fix tonight but I'll get onto it in the morning and post here when it's fixed.


By TallPaul on 06/01/14 at 8:31pm

Sorry, not been well today so haven't felt up to coding. Will look at it tomorrow, assuming I'm in a better state.


By TallPaul on 08/01/14 at 10:32pm

OK, I have a partial solution to this which is described here.

So you should now be able to use the "+/-" control to zoom in/out.

The only problem is that if you zoom out too far you will run off the edge of tile availability from Bing. This shouldn't be a problem for route planning but I hope to resolve this soon anyway.


By TallPaul on 09/01/14 at 10:25am

... and I now have. The "+/-" zoom tool now correctly switches the map server at appropriate times.


By dml2 on 09/01/14 at 8:12pm

Thanks, I can now zoom in to 1:50k then 1:25k using the '+' and '-' buttons.

I did notice a slight bug on the route planning. if I place some waypoints then go back and move one, the '+' cursor changes to a hand as usual. I can move a waypoint but when I move the cursor away from a waypoint, the cursor doesn't change back to a '+'. If I left-click, I can place another waypoint but I can't move the map by clicking and dragging unless I place another waypoint, which may not be required.


By dml2 on 10/01/14 at 9:27pm

One useful feature that I haven't found recently under 'Your Route' is to show markers. This used to put a series of pins along the route and I found it useful to mark the start and end of a circular walk.


By TallPaul on 10/01/14 at 10:27pm

I think you mean "track" (where you've been) rather than "route" (where you intend to go) as that was a feature of track display in the old software.

In the new software there is a similar feature. Having loaded a track you need to put the software into "track mode".

To do this click on the button top right labelled "route mode". It will change to "track mode" and a yellow "walker" marker will appear at the start of your track. You can now move it along the track to view data at any point on the track in one of four ways:

  1. You can use your mouse scroll wheel you move the walker forward (and backward) *

  2. You can do the same thing using the "+" and "-" buttons top right on the map

  3. You can mouse click on any point on the track and the walker will jump to that point

  4. You can press 'Home' or 'End' to move the walker to the start of end of the track respectively


By dml2 on 17/01/14 at 3:05pm

Thanks for the information. You are right, in the old software, it was under "Your Track" after loading a CPS track as opposed to a route. In the new software, after loading a GPS track file, I like the facility to view data at each track point.



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