Monday, April 20, 2015

Old App: FlyQ EFB

Purple rectangles are common at altitude
This is an oldie, but I've just gotten permission to disclose it.  Introducing FlyQ EFB from Seattle Avionics.

Seattle Avionics is actually one of my oldest clients and theirs are among the most complex WhirlyGlobe-Maply apps around.  I've finally talked them into going public with their support for open source!


For those of you unfamiliar with aviation terms (guilty) EFB stands for "Electronic Flight Bag."  

Pilots used to haul a ton of paper charts around and do all sorts of complicated things with them.  PCs and specialized devices replaced much of that and now commodity tablets are changing things again.  Just like in other markets.

If you've ever wondered why WhirlyGlobe-Maply seems to have so many aviation-friendly features, now you know.

Maps, Globes, and True 3D

In FlyQ EFB WG-Maply is largely used as a map.  Even though it's on a globe, everything is plastered to the surface and interactions are almost entirely map like.  

Don't let me anywhere near the controls of a plane.

All of the objects you see on the globe are standard things like screen markers, labels, image layers and so forth.  Organizing the data and passing it to WG-Maply is accomplished in the app, and I can assure you, that's the hard part.

Orange is bad.  It's not orange's fault.

There's also a true 3D mode which is meant to resemble what a pilot might actually see with certain caveats (Look out the window, fool).  This is a little further afield of what WG-Maply is meant for and is tied much more tightly to their app.

Smart Plates & Charts

Seattle Avionics has another app called SmartPlates & Charts.  Think of it as a simpler sibling to FlyQ EFB.  If you're just curious, I'd start here.

It's great to be publicly welcoming Seattle Avionics to the open source family!  If any of you other lurkers want to fess up, let me know.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New App: National Geographic World Atlas

WhirlyGlobe-Maply is now at the heart of the National Geographic's World Atlas iOS app.

And why not Belgium? (tm)

I plan on being insufferable for a week and then smug for another two months.

The App

It's gorgeous, just go buy it.  You may already have it, lots of people do.  NatGeo provided 4.0 as an update, which is really nice of them actually.

The Technology

There's some really interesting stuff going on with the globe.  For instance doesn't that text look suspiciously... sharp?

Did you know Vatican City is its own country?  Of course you did

We'll talk more about the process later, but let's just say it involves: PDF, Mapbox, hybrid raster/vector tiles, on-device font glyph rendering and lots of math.  Getting that classic NatGeo map look on mobile, but better, was interesting.

The People

I just did the globe.  Rally Interactive did the bulk of the user interface and it's gorgeous.  Mapbox helped out on the data processing and storage side.  National Geographic did some of the development and all the data (of course) as well as the project management.  That last one was some serious work.

That'd hurt if you picked it up.

It was a pleasure working with Rally and NGS.  It's a hell of an app and I hope the users love it.

Monday, March 16, 2015

New App: Epicenter

Earthquake apps are interesting and a great use of the globe.  Here's a new one using WhirlyGlobe-Maply.

I wonder where the plates collide.

The App

Epicenter was put together by Jess Taylor at Blue Rocket.  It's got a nice interface, letting you animate recent earthquakes over time.  The bathymetry really pops.

Biggest earthquake of late.

What I love about earthquake apps is that they're pure data visualization.  No one's going to get rich off one and the data's free.

Anyway, go check this one out.

State -o- The Toolkit

WhirlyGlobe-Maply is chugging along at speed.  2.4 is nearing completion on iOS and 3.0 is underway on Android.  And I'm busy.  So very, very busy.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

WhirlyGlobe For Android

A few months ago I ported the Maply part of WhirlyGlobe-Maply to Android.  It's in shipping apps!  Now it's WhirlyGlobe's turn.

What my desk looks like right now.  Except no plushy thing.

Let's see who's paying for the port.

Bad weather looks awesome.

Dark Sky

Dark Sky is the most prominent app using WhirlyGlobe-Maply today.  They've been good users and great clients (e.g. they pay on time).  I'm pleased to have them taking the lead on this one.

Their users have been clamoring for an Android version, so this is a necessary step.

WhirlyGlobe Android Port

With the Maply rendering engine already there, WhirlyGlobe shouldn't be too bad.

I've already scoped out the hardware, got my ARM and x86 devices and dealt with versions back to 4.0.  I've also experienced the flow of Android development and made my peace with it... by increasing my engineering estimates.

The client comes first on the port, but we're doing this in the open.  Because open source.  You can always grab the develop_3_0 branch and have at it.  After this launches I'll look into making it easier to install.  And, you know, documentation.

What's Next

I've been very busy on two big client apps, the port, and a bunch of other stuff.  Those will launch in the next few months.  As always, I'd love to hear about your apps too.

The new site has gone over really well, particularly the documentation, so more of that is in the works.

WhirlyGlobe-Maply 2.4 is shambling toward release, perhaps in March.  I suspect that'll be the last version before 3.0 and the great Android/iOS unification.  We'll see.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

AvidGeo Dec 8th

I'm presenting at the AvidGeo conference in Cambridge on Monday.  I've put together a talk on getting started with geospatial development on mobile.

This is part of the LocationTech east coast tour, which will have me in New York on Tuesday and Washington, DC on Thursday.  Then back to New York on Friday, for a CartoDB conference, but that's entirely my own fault.

If you can make it, AvidGeo looks interesting.  I hope to convince a few geospatial developers that mobile isn't as scary as it seems.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

WhirlyGlobe-Maply Support Contract

Have you ever wanted to pay us more money?  Of course you have!  Well now you can.

We're introducing the WhirlyGlobe-Maply support contract.  All the cool open source projects are doing it and we're nothing if not cool.


The Price

Priced at $600 (USD) per year, the new support contract is a steal.  If by "steal" we mean paying us some money.  And we do.  So it's a steal.

What, you may ask, do you get for your cash?  We'll be glad to tell you.

The Details

First, you get your email answered.... first.  Sometimes we get busy with client work.  Now we'll be getting busy with your work too.

Next, you'll get 4 hours of debugging time on your project.  That would normally cost you... more.  So that's pretty cool.  And yes, we do keep track.

Then you get access to one or two live video tutorials per year.   We'll fire up a Google Hangout and anyone who's paid up can join in.

Lastly, you get some input into next year's features.  We may put it to a vote.  We'll see.


Because it will make mousebird consulting rich!  Okay, not really.  But there have been a number of situations where it would have been nice.

As consultants, we've got this giant Master Services Agreement.  It's big, it's gnarly, it covers every clause imaginable.  It's for doing battle with giant corporations, who I work with regularly.  Hi guys!

We get inquiries from smaller companies who just want some bug fixes or a little help on their project.  A support contract, shorter and simpler, is perfect for that.

What About Users?

I'll still be looking at regular support issues on github and you can always send me email.  That's not going to change.  These customers just get first crack.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

CartoDB Layer Tutorial

CartoDB is pretty awesome for building interactive apps that need spatial data.  Most of these are web apps, but you can use CartoDB on mobile too.

Probable bed bug infestations in Manhattan

Frankly, there aren't enough mobile apps using WhirlyGlobe-Maply and CartoDB.  So I wrote a tutorial.

CartoDB Tutorial

We've got a brand new set of tutorials up on the brand new WhirlyGlobe-Maply web site.  They'll run you through setup all the way to vector selection and beyond.

The CartoDB Tutorial is one of the cool ones.  We use a MaplyQuadPagingLayer to fetch New York PLUTO data for Manhattan.

The paging layer does the dirty work of figuring out which tiles are visible.  We add a little code to fetch the data in a given tile and then display it.  The toolkit does the rest.


It wasn't all that hard to put this together.  If you know CartoDB, you won't have much trouble using WG-Maply.  If you know WG-Maply, adding the CartoDB piece is a cinch.

I'd like to see more CartoDB based mobile apps out there.  Don't make me write them all myself.