Archive for December, 2008

Run (& Develop) Geograph locally!

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

I’ve prepared a VMware virtual machine, that contains a ready to run instance of Geograph (British Isles). This was primarlly for my own purposes as my current working copy runs on windoz, so didn’t replicate fully the real enviroment. Now I can still run my IDE on windows, but have the code running in a almost totally faithful copy. 

The compressed image is available from:

Geograph Torrents Downloads (346.62 MB)

Requirements to run the image:

  • WMware workstation or WMare player
  • a 7z uncompression tool (apparently the best compression method for VM images)
  • At least 3GB diskspace (the image’s disk uncompressed needs 2GB – but could expand to 10GB)
  • web-browser (to actully view something) 
  • A smattering of linux know-how (to actully login and view the files – also to try changing things) 
  • To do anything useful, experience with PHP, mySQL and website development in general, is a big bonus

The image’s application database is empty – it contains no photos or other data from Geograph British Isles, other than the bare minimum to get running (but contains the non-copyrighted BI geodata for map plotting etc). If you want a developers dump to try loading some real data please get in touch with the team. 

Hopefully this should be a real quickstart way to get a local working copy running – ready setup with required software, cronjobs etc – ideal for:

  • Just finding out more about how the site works :)
  • Doing real development work – with the aim to contribute back (its ready setup for easy SVN commits) 
  • To customise the code for a new country! (we have plans to make this even easier)

(NB. only torrent download currently available – others probably available on request)


MGRS coordinate entry

Friday, December 12th, 2008

Prompted by one of those infernal* posts on a Google Maps group, have finally been inspired to cobble together a MGRS -> Lat/Long conversion. It seems trvial, the UTM->MGRS conversion is quite simple, but there are a few gotchas!, so after much puzzleing over some C code from GeoTrans (and Trial&Error for good measure!), I think** have something working.

Anyway try it out here: 

Coordinate Flyto for Google Earth/Maps

also added today is a tickbox to open the result direct in Google Maps (rather than Google Earth). 

I’ll tidy it up and post the code, which is based on the PHPcoord conversion class, incase others have a use. I’ll also add it to the API – and possibly even back port it into Perl for use on the on site coordinate covertor. 

Finally possibly of interest is the realisation that the MGRS Google Earth Gridlines layer, will actully load directly in Google Maps, so:

MGRS Gridlines in Google Maps

the lines should update a few seconds after dragging/zooming. Ideally will suppress the big blue pins (which are show as numbers in GE) , but not tonight…



* in the nicest possible sence!

** I tested it by converting utm->mgrs->utm globally on a worldwide 1 degree grid – all check out with absolute precision.

Between a rock and a hard place…

Monday, December 8th, 2008

This is going to be a long and rambley piece about licences and the updated updated Terms of Service of the Google Maps API – if either of those don’t interest you turn away now :)

Not that long ago Google updated the Terms of Service on Google Maps API – I guess mainly in responce to issues brought up on the Mail group, and elsewhere. As a result of that edit there where many concerns raised (and more)- and a further edit was made. (note, only linked to some of the blogs etc – follow links to read more) This was over a week ago, but due to non online commitments haven’t really had a time to follow this up. You can read my early reaction here, which has been edited in to Mikes post.

Below is the main section that is still causing concern, quoted in its entirety:

11. Licenses from You to Google.

11.1 Content License. Google claims no ownership over Your Content, and You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Your Content. By submitting, posting or displaying Your Content in the Service, you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute Your Content through the Service and as search results through Google Services. This license is solely for the purpose of enabling Google to operate the Service, to promote the Service (including through public presentations), and to index and serve such content as search results through Google Services. If you are unable or unwilling to provide such a license to Your Content, please see the FAQ for information on configuring your Maps API Implementation to opt out.

11.2 Brand Features License. You grant to Google a nontransferable, nonexclusive license during the Term to use Your Brand Features to advertise that you are using the Service.

11.3 Authority to Grant Licenses. You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above licenses.

To be honest still unsure how I feel about this section, and finding it very hard to vocalise (well to put to pixels) the concerns. I certain its not compatible with a number of situations where the Maps would otherwise be ideal, but that I guess is real life – just need to move on an find something that is more suitable. But its still gauling to have invested so much in Google Maps API to have it all disappear in puff of legal smoke, I guess its now going to be“Once Burnt, Twice Shy” as they say.