[Talk-GB] New, kothic-js version of Freemap

Nick Whitelegg Nick.Whitelegg at solent.ac.uk
Mon Mar 19 13:00:16 GMT 2012


As from yesterday (March 18th) the default version of Freemap (www.free-map.org.uk; UK OSM-based countryside mapping site) has become the kothic-js based 0.6. 

As well as client-side rendering using kothic-js, the new version features
* Ability to add annotations to the map (as before) e.g. path directions/blockages;
* Overhauled and hopefully more user-friendly walking routes system. I intend to build a free and open repository of walking routes on Freemap, which users can share with each other.
* A developer API (see www.free-map.org.uk/0.6/about.html) providing access to the underlying data.

It is however not a "final" version, there are still a number of things to do.

Frequently anticipated questions:
* As rendering is done client side it might take a few seconds for the mpa to appear. Also, the rendered maps are not yet cached (local storage could, up to a point, be a solution here) so performance is not as good as fast server side rendering solutions on powerful servers; however it is better than server side rendering would be on Freemap. 
* There are some quirks with rendering around tile boundaries in particular. I haven't resolved this just yet. It might be an underlying kothic issue.
* Only certain parts of southern and northern England, and all of Wales, are covered, due to server constraints. This is unlikely to change for the moment.
* Up-to-date browser required (Firefox 4+; Chrome; IE9)

Whilst these issues exist, the fact that kothic-js is included in this year's GSOC is encouraging, and thus there's a good chance the performance issues will be resolved. 

It is hoped to include printable PDFs of walk routes, using a pure client-side solution on browsers supporting PDF data URLs.

Code is on github at 


As Freemap itself now uses vector data, I now plan to update OpenTrail (Android Freemap client) to use vector rendering too, when mapsforge 0.3 (supporting custom styles) is released.


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