About a year ago, I mentioned that I would be spending a bit of time rewriting OpenOrienteeringMap (OOM). The web application, which people use to create printable simple “street orienteering” (or Street-O) maps for use in low-key events such as the SLOW Street-O series events, has been around for a bit, and was not the most intuitive or prettiest application to use.
More seriously, the map creation process had little in the way of safety checking, meaning that mistakes could be made – one recent Street-O event I went to had two control points with the same number, and another one had misaligned the control “clue sheet”, so that the clues corresponded to the wrong control – resulting in much confusion out on the course. There was also a popular complaint from course planners – namely that they couldn’t go back and change their map – if they made one slight misplacement or misnumbering, they would have to start all over again from the beginning. A less frequent but still valid complaint was that it was easy for control numbers to overlap (or be near) other control circles, causing confusion. There was a non-trivial workaround for this last point. The new version, which I’m releasing today as a beta (while it awaits final signoff) addresses all these issues and has a few more features.
If you want to jump right in, then have a play now at http://oomap.co.uk/ – or read on for more details of what’s new.
A list of the main new and updated things:
- Much more intuitive to use.
- Set a direction for the control number.
- Set a point score and control description, for use with the new clue sheet.
- Edit and delete controls after they are created.
- You can now move the map incrementally (drag the blue move marker.)
- Validator to make sure duplicate numbers are not entered!
- You now get given a code when saving a map. Copy this code somewhere, and use it to reload your map in the future.
- New clue sheet which can be edited and printed – useful in conjunction with the map, for an event.
- New design for the PDF maps – with British Orienteering branding.
- The standard Street-O map now shows parks (yellow) and forests (light green). If you don’t like them, use Street-O basic, which leaves them out, as well as railways.
- Daily updates to the background map.
A note on schedules for updates to the background map, which is created from a local database based on the data in the OpenStreetMap database:
- The local database is now updated from OpenStreetMap every day between 6am and 8am. During this time, OpenOrienteeringMap is not available for use – the maps on the website will appear partially or completely blank and PDF generation will not work.
- The map data is based on what is in OpenStreetMap up to and including 7pm the previous day.
- This means that edits to the background map in OpenStreetMap should take between 13 and 37 hours to appear in OpenOrienteeringMap.
- The image “tiles” of the map that you see on the OOM website are created on-the-fly from the local database and cached for quicker future viewing – the cache is emptied daily at the same time as the map data is updated.
- The PDF map is always created on-the-fly from the data, and not cached.
- The process is subject to occasional delays and may stop altogether for a while if upstream processes/timescales change.
- I’m using Geofabrik’s download service – thanks guys!
Unfortunately this new version (and the old one) will only be available for the UK (& Ireland) at the moment. Partly this is because the new site is very UK-centric – it searches for UK postcodes, takes advantage of freely available contour line vectors for Great Britain, and is branded as a British Orienteering product. But the main reason is that the OpenStreetMap dataset for the whole world is huge, it’s unwieldy and almost unmanageable – not to mention requiring many hundreds of gigabytes of expensive server disk space, and a lot of RAM. The UK/Ireland cut, on the other hand, is much more straightforward to handle.
You can download this example PDF, which is of Grahame Park in north-west London, here.
Get started making your own Street-O map, at http://oomap.co.uk/. Your comments are, as ever, welcomed below.
[Update - fixed the following bugs: Western Ireland not being rendered, clue sheet labels in the wrong order, not being able to edit a control until at least one is added (problem when loading in a previously saved map), permalinks not using WGS84 lat/lon.]