Mapping Re-Design

For discussion of our route planning application.

Mapping Re-Design

Postby TallPaul » Sat Nov 23, 2013 2:10 pm

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:

  • http://maps.the-hug.net/ - using Ordnance Survey OpenSpace tiles for 1:50,000 mapping and our OpenMaps Open Data tiles for smaller scale tiles.
  • http://www.walklakes.co.uk/maps/ - using Bing tiles for 1:25,000 mapping and aerial photography and our OpenMaps Open Data tiles for smaller scale tiles (you will need to register at WalkLakes first and then log in before you get access to 1:25,000 and aerial photograph).

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 reply to this email 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.
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Re: Mapping Re-Design

Postby TallPaul » Sat Nov 23, 2013 2:58 pm

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.
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Re: Mapping Re-Design

Postby TallPaul » Mon Nov 25, 2013 10:46 am

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.
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Re: Mapping Re-Design

Postby pistolrider » Tue Nov 26, 2013 5:57 pm

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
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Re: Mapping Re-Design

Postby TallPaul » Tue Nov 26, 2013 7:31 pm

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.
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Re: Mapping Re-Design

Postby pistolrider » Thu Nov 28, 2013 5:18 pm

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
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Re: Mapping Re-Design

Postby TallPaul » Thu Nov 28, 2013 8:09 pm

Well I said in my OP:
TallPaul wrote: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.
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Re: Mapping Re-Design

Postby pistolrider » Fri Nov 29, 2013 12:56 pm

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 ;)
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Re: Mapping Re-Design

Postby James » Fri Nov 29, 2013 10:32 pm

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

Postby TallPaul » Fri Nov 29, 2013 10:59 pm

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.
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