The weather up here in beautiful Bellingham, WA has turned really nice so I’ve been finding more and more reasons to get out and enjoy it. That means I’ve been working on the site a lot less lately. I did make a small bug fix a while ago that I just got around to posting.
Prior to the update saving routes in outside of the USA using the Members Only Map Creator would result in an error when one tried to load the route. The error had to do with loading biking directions in countries where it isn’t supported.
I also cleaned up the save message. Now the message is displayed with an infowindow on the map. The infowindow includes a success/failure message and a link to the newly created map. In the future I plan to make some sort of sharing happen from that window.
I’m not sure when I’ll get around to working on the site some more. I’ve got a few ideas kicking around but I’m also waiting for Google to fix some bugs on their end too. Specifically the 10 way-point limit and a printing bug. I haven’t mentioned the printing bug before. I just discovered it this weekend when I went to print out a route. The map now shows up as a background picture so most printers default to ignore the map when printing. I’ve read that you can get around this by changing some settings in the print dialog. While it probably works it isn’t a real solution.
Ever since Google announced that they added a bike map option to their popular mapping software I’ve been working on incorporating the new directions into my map creator. Today I’m happy to announce that I’ve finished updating my code and I uploaded a new version of the map creator!
Here’s a list of the changes:
Added support for bike there directions. The map creator will now plot routes according to Google’s bike there option. Prior to the update the routes were just based on shortest distance and fastest traveling time, for an automobile (without traveling on freeways). This prevented the map creator from plotting routes that used trails or back roads which are more suitable for biking.
I’ve gotten rid of the ‘Plot Mode.’ Now every time you click on the map it creates a new way point and plots directions to that way point. No need to click ‘Plot Route’ anymore.
Way point markers are now draggable. If you decide that the way point isn’t in the right spot you can drag it to a new location. Your route will automatically be re-plotted.
‘Start Over’ has been moved along side the ‘Print’ button and won’t disappear when you change modes.
Additionally I changed the position of the ‘total distance’ text as well. This isn’t really worth making a bullet about it but it is an indication of a future feature: route elevation profiles! Shortly after Google released their ‘Bike There’ directions they also added an elevation service to developers. Eventually that boring white box will include a neat elevation profile as well!
As always I’d love to hear your comments about the map creator. There has been a lot of dissatisfaction with the biking directions in the blogosphere. If you find that my app isn’t giving useful directions let me know.
Today Google announced that they added a bike there option when asking for directions in Google Maps. Needless to say many, many people were pleased to hear the news. I’s been covered by nearly all the blogs I read about these subjects, such as:
I won’t go over how cool this feature is except to say that I recreated my entire tour route from Blaine, WA to San Yisidro, CA using Google maps in about 20 min. It’s that good. Go see how awesome are for your self!
This has two big effects on my app. First, finding directions will be worlds better. Currently you have to add a bunch of way points to get a good route that follows bike friendly roads. With the bike there option for the maps nearly all of that will vanish. The directions service by Google will do that for you. Secondly, this will push me into another big round of development. My app uses the 2.0 version of Google maps and the bike there option is only available in version 3. That means I will have to rewrite nearly all of my app to get this to work. While I’m not very excited about the prospect of doing that the end result will definitely be worth it.
Until I get V3 working I’ll occasionally add more featured routes so keep checking back or better yet subscribe to the RSS feed.