Tuesday 27 May 2008

Cycle route

I've just added a little bit of ncn route 1 through Hutton Cranswick. I added the village a week ago, but I forgot to add all of the cycle route bits. I saw the cycle map added as a layer to the OSM maps and realised that I'd missed a bit, so it should be ready for the next render.

I've changed the way my pushbike handlebars fit so I can sit more upright which is more comfortable for my old bones. I want to follow the route 1 / 66 that leads from Cottingham to Beverley and beyond. I think I know which way it goes and it's somewhere I've not been, which is one of the best bits of OSM.

Monday 26 May 2008

Parish Boundaries

We've been working down the western edge of Molescroft and Beverley. Almost all of Molescroft is complete but there's still loads of Beverley to do. Some of it will have to be on foot. There is a fairly clear junction between the two, with a couple of signs for Molescroft and some roads that change there name on what I think is the boundary. I have tried to find a reference to the parish boundaries on-line, but nothing that is free from copyright restrictions. I took a look at out-of-copyright maps, but the boundaries are not clear at all, and they may have moved in the last fifty years.

I think I could sketch the boundary between Beverley and Molescroft, but as soon as the boundary goes out into the countryside it is completely lost. I wonder where else to look.

Friday 23 May 2008

Not so tidy

In the real world I'm not a tidy person (far from it) but in my virtual world my alter ego is tidy. I love to see tidy code with in-line documentation up-to-date and sensible. Better still carefully designed objects called from procedural code, with a matching database or file design. I hate to see disorganised databases or stupidly messy file structures, and flung together websites jar on me.

It's become the same with maps. When I come across other people's tidy work that reflects the real world it gladdens my heart, but when I come across lazily thrown together stuff it makes me shudder. I've seen roads drawn as primary or trunk, but with no name or reference. If the author knows it's a primary, he must have seen a sign, so why not tag it?

I have tidied up some crap work today, so I actually feel better about it now. I'm cross that someone took the trouble to tag a road with speed limits (two in km/h, yet one in m/h) yet they clearly copied the name from another on-line map. I've corrected the name from one of our photos and checked the track (which was good), but I didn't check the change points for the speed limit. There were some other tatty bits that now are complete, correctly named and tidy.

Let's get the basics right before we go for niceties.

Thursday 22 May 2008

Not so big

Yesterday we went to extend the map of Beverley. It's a smart market town on the edge of the Wolds and worth a visit. However, splendid as Beverley is, we didn't map much - most of what we recorded was Molescroft. We passed the sign for the village and realised that Molescroft was a lot bigger than I thought. I looked at their parish council website and found a map showing the village boundary. Quite a lot of what I thought was Beverley is actually Molescroft.

It would be useful to add the parish boundary, but I'm not sure where to get a copyright free source. I don't think parish boundaries are on the NPE maps.

Monday 19 May 2008

Hutton Cranswick

We paid a visit to Hutton Cranswick, a village just south of Driffield. It's not a village I knew at all, so we drove around trying to make sure we covered everywhere. The village is really two villages which, strangely enough, were called Hutton and Cranswick. Cranswick is the southern end. It's got a lot of very small, fairly new houses, bungalows and terraces. Some of it is a bit older. Hutton on the other hand is a bit more posh. The pubs, school and the station are in Cranswick, the grand church is in Hutton.

We moved on to Bainton, but on the way we looked for Eastburn. There was a farm called Eastburn, but no village. I think it is one of the medieval villages that have disappeared over the years. Eastburn was added from the NPE map which is about 50 years old, so in the intervening years it has gone.

Bainton was easy enough, especially because it was partly done already. The tally of places in East Yorkshire that are mapped rolls on. It now stands at about 47% complete.

The Wiki page now has a map added by the inimitable Wiki Wrangler Harry Wood, and much better it looks - thanks Harry.

Thursday 15 May 2008

All sorts

We've done a few short trips out, all around Hull. The industrial area along the A1033 to the east was fairly easy, with few public roads and a large area of industrial, including the docks. I added the outline of the docks from Y! photos with Potlatch. The level of detail is very poor in Hull, but for such a large area as the docks it's a good as I can manage - the docks are all closed to public access.

We added some of the roads around the new St Stephens shopping centre. No other maps have any of this, it's too new. Some of the road names were missing, but we knew the names from before the development. We'll check later in the year to see if any names boards have gone up in case we got any wrong. The shopping centre will still be a challenge because it's all enclosed so there may well be no GPS signal. There's no aerial photos yet so I'll do my best.

We also added some of the roads around the Hull Royal Infirmary. I'll add some more to then get the boundaries of the buildings. From a distance it looks like a tall thin tower (which there is) but the ground area of the much lower buildings are much bigger than the tower.

I haven't heard anything yet from Cloudmade about the grant I applied for. Maybe they're overrun or maybe they don't like my proposal, but an acknowledgement would be a good idea just to be sure they received by application. The blog on their website hasn't been posted to since March, so maybe they've taken their funding to some beach somewhere. :-)

Tuesday 6 May 2008

Riverside cycle route

We took a turn along a little bit of the national cycle network route 65. It runs from the Humber bridge to North Ferriby along the bank of the Humber. It's a firm, well made stone path between the river and the railway and it's as level as can be. It runs from a pub near the bridge to the small park in Ferriby which used to be a landfill site many years ago.

This is an alternative route for NCN 65 which also goes around the villages further north. I like the riverside route.

Monday 5 May 2008

Got it

More from my dabbling with OpenLayers: I've found why the marker disappears, or at least how to keep it from disappearing. There is an undocumented parameter on the marker constructor that determines how higher zoom level the marker is displayed to. Now the map works well. A quick drawing session to create a png image of an arrow to use as the marker and it is done.

Overall the OpenLayers is very neat. It works well, there is some documentation which is readable and it is flexible and usable.

Sis now has a slippy map embedded in her prototype web site. Now if we can get the remaining 10 pages defined, written and checked we can then maybe go live.

Sunday 4 May 2008


I've been playing around with OpenLayers. I want to embed a map into my sister's web site. She has a Physio clinic and I've offered to build her web site (we're still discussing the details). I thought I'd just plonk a bitmap extracted from OSM to help people find her clinic.

Firstly the village she lives and works was not mapped. I added a couple of roads with Yahoo putting the names on from memory, but it was only a small part of the village. She lives 250 miles away, so a quick mapping trip was not really on. To my surprise when I looked today, TallGuy has added much more of the village. Thanks!

Then I extracted a bitmap, but it just doesn't cut it. I'm so used to zooming and scrolling around that a flat, static bitmap is crap. So OpenLayers then.

I copied some stuff from the wiki and embedded a div to display the map, and bingo, a lovely map. I then put a marker on it to mark the clinic and here's the rub: when you zoom in beyond level 14 the marker disappears. I can't find out what causes it. Wading through the OpenLayers Javascript is guaranteed to give you a sore head and no joy, so I'll sleep on it.

Thursday 1 May 2008

Too much detail?

We've spent time mapping parts of Hull, today was around Argyle Street. The tiles on the map are getting full for the west part of the city and that is now a problem. The data is turned into tiles by different means for different maps.

The Mapnik map renders once per week. I like the way it looks, but when I have entered data I may have made a mistake, so I want to see a rendered map to find those mistakes while the route is fresh in my mind. So I always request an Osmarender version first.

Osmarender used to render a page in few minutes, but recently it always takes t least an hour and often more. As we fill the space of a tile, the tile gets more complex to render so it takes longer. The tile data is downloaded to a PC run by someone who has kindly set their machine up to render tiles (tiles@home). When the tile is drawn it is uploaded to the server to replace the tile to display on the map. In fact it is more complex than that because all of the tiles at higher zoom levels are rendered, zipped and uploaded which adds up to a lot of tiles. After a period of time, maybe one and a half to two hours, if the rendered tiles have not been uploaded the renderer (or maybe the server) gives up and the process starts again. It has taken all evening sometimes, just to find that I've made errors which need correcting and then the render process starts again.

On the mailing list there have been messages about how this might be improved, but I think they miss the point. Most requested tiles are automatically requested by various processes. If I request a tile render, the automatic render will still get requested some time later, even though the tile is already up-to-date. This massive overkill on auto-render is clogging the system.

While have typed this the two tiles I have requested have timed-out and started again. If I had the resource to run tiles@home I would be cross when the rendered tile-set is rejected.