Fascinating critique of the current Tube map…
Is this the East Coast/West Coast divide we keep hearing about?
They’ve been lagging behind for a while, but multimap have just launched a new site (click the link on the top left). Much improved. Much much improved. I haven’t had a chance to play much yet, but it does look a whole heap better. And the maps are much clearer too – compared to google maps the old ones looked appalling, so although on aesthetic it’s a really important move.
I am lucky to be able to (and to want to) get obsessed about things that I’m working on… The latest thing that appears to impinging on my every conscious moment is data visualisation generally and mapping in particular. Latest find? worldmapper.org, where states are distended according to statistics. Now what I want is a program that does this for arbitrary data….
I’ve been muttering previously about geocoding in the UK. It sucks. Everything is under heavy (and expensive) license restrictions and the Open Source alternatives are a long way from getting there. Luckily the latest job we‘re working on is an Australian Google Maps mashup (map my adventure, soft launched last week)…
One of the things that we’ve been asked to do is tie points on the map to the State that they’re in. Doug and I had been worrying about this for some time, as we thought that we would end up manually building polygons to represent state boundaries from a map ourselves. But no. Of course, we live in the UK and think that all map data is sacred. In Australia, and a lot of other countries too, the data is freely available and provided by the Government. You can download it yourselves too if you want.
Over Christmas I got the time to start thinking about the next applications and the first thing I started researching was the excellent Google maps API, with a plan to some very basic geocoding. It took me a while to realise that the reason my test code wasn’t working wasn’t that it was bust, but that Google don’t allow UK address geocoding.
Further investigation showed that there’s a very simple reason – the UK is one of the few countries where the geocoding data is not in the public domain (despite being generated with public funds).
There’s a good piece on the current state of play, and the new alternatives, over at The Guardian. Both alternatives (npemap.org.uk and freethepostcode.org) are a way from being a viable alternative to the PAF file, but they’re definitely worth watching.