Friday, August 31, 2012

WhirlyGlobe Talks

What marketing I do for WhirlyGlobe works out pretty well.  I just need to do more of it.  To that end, I've started putting together a standard presentation and looking for appropriate venues.

Here's a session I proposed for the upcoming State of The Map conference in Portland.

WhirlyGlobe - 3D Data Presentation on the iPad

Though Apple's app store is gated, there's a robust open source community surrounding it.  Many of those efforts are focused on map related problems.  We'll discuss one of them.

WhirlyGlobe is a native open source toolkit for iPad and iPhone that provides developers with a 3D rotating earth.  With it, you can overlay vector features on image tile sets, such as those from OpenStreetMap.  Data sets can range from the small to very large and WhirlyGlobe has support for swapping features in and out on the fly.

The toolkit itself is in its second major revision and has been out for more than a year.  It has a number of shipping apps to its credit with more in the pipeline.  Most developers build very simple apps, often a base tile set with a few point features.  A select few develop apps of iPad melting complexity with multiple overlays, large tile sets, and paged vector data.

In this talk we'll cover some of the basic functionality in WhirlyGlobe (without resorting to source code).  We'll also discuss some of the challenges users have in obtaining and processing data.  Then we'll conclude with future work, including a planned extension to flat maps.

Is This the Right Venue?

I haven't quite found my niche for WhirlyGlobe.  It's worked out quite well, but it's an odd bird.  There are a number of interesting conferences that might overlap and I'm slowly checking them out.  It's up to the organizers on this one, of course, but I'll be attending in any case.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Knight News Challenge - Mobile

If you're not aware of the interesting things the Knight Foundation has done trying to make news more accessible, it's worth a look.

They've funded a bunch of interesting projects in the last few years.  This upcoming challenge is focused on mobile and they've got a penchant for open source.

I'm going to submit something myself for WhirlyGlobe and its upcoming 2D map sibling.  It'll be some deep infrastructure-y thing, probably focused on making large data sets easier to use in visualization.  So that's not why I mention this.

Looking For Partners

If you would like to use WhirlyGlobe in your own proposal (or even its 2D map sibling) let me know.  I'm happy to accept subcontracts related to the contest.  I'll even knock my rate down a bit in the spirit of general whatever.

As for the specifics, keep in mind that WhirlyGlobe is a native iOS toolkit.  It's open source, governed under the Apache 2.0 license.  My toolkit is in it's second major version, can be found in a bunch of shipping apps and just generally already works.

If you're not familiar with WhirlyGlobe, look at this video for the WhirlyGlobe Component release.

What I Can Do For You

Your idea might require additional functionality.  I can add that to WhirlyGlobe.
You might want to do a pretty 2D map that looks a lot like WhirlyGlobe.  I've already got that under development.  I can commit to delivery.
You might need help implementing the tricky 3D bits.  I can do that.

If you've got a great idea brewing on the iPad or iPhone that might win some of that development money, drop me a line and let's see what we can do.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

WhirlyGlobe Component: Announcement

I'm pleased to announce the WhirlyGlobe Component, an easy to use wrapper on top of WhirlyGlobe.

For users who may not be familiar with WhirlyGlobe, here's the summary.
WhirlyGlobe is a 3D globe rendering toolkit for iPad and iPhone.  It lets you put labels, markers, and vectors on top of a 3D interactive globe with a base layer of pageable image data.

Who It's For & What It Is

The Component is for people who wanted to use WhirlyGlobe, but had trouble compiling it, getting it to run, or dealing with the threading.  You know, most everyone.

WhirlyGlobe Component is most of the interesting functionality without all the stuff that drove people crazy.  It's all Objective C, there are no weird template headers to include, and you can safely ignore threading issues.  Don't get me wrong, all that's still in there, I'm just hiding it.

Where To Get It

I'm putting the WhirlyGlobe Component into beta right now.  You can get the latest version off WhirlyGlobe's github download section.

There are two main pieces in that download:

  • WhirlyGlobeComponent.framework
  • WhirlyGlobeComponentTester

The Tester is my test app.  It's self documenting (Ha!  I kill me).  Just load it up and check out TestViewController.m.  All the important logic is in there.

Using The Framework

It's much easier to include the WhirlyGlobe Component framework in your own project.  That's the whole point.

When setting up a new project, here's all you have to do.
  • Drag WhirlyGlobeComponent.framework into your project view.
  • Add the following standard Apple frameworks that WhirlyGlobe needs.
    • OpenGLES
    • QuartzCore
    • libsqlite3
    • libstdc++
  • Point the Header Search Paths at the WhirlyGlobeComponent.framework/Headers directory.
  • Add -all_load to the Other Linker Flags.  You'll get a missing selector without this.

To actually create a WhirlyGlobeViewController and use it, look at TestViewController.m in the WhirlyGlobeComponentTester app.


At the moment I'm supporting a variety of base image layers, both remote and local, paged and not.  I'm also supporting markers and labels in both 2D and 3D modes.  Selection is working, as is UIView overlay.

The only big feature missing is vector data.  I'm contemplating how best to include that in an intuitive way.  Barring a little testing, that's the last feature before release.  In the mean time, it works great, give it a try.

Live Globe Free on App Store

It's funny, I expected WhirlyGlobe to be picked up by more geography minded app developers;  Live Globe is still one of the few.  Most of my market breaks down into sales offices around the globe and iPad melting high end.  I'm not complaining, as much of my consulting revenue comes from the latter.

Still, I figured there'd be more of these by now.  Go figure.

Screen shots stolen from the app store.
Anyway, they've dropped the price for the basic Live Globe (app store) down to free.  The Pro version's still a dollar.