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.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Web Site & Documentation

I'm pleased to announce the WhirlyGlobe-Maply project's brand new web site.  It's been a long time in coming, but it's finally here.  And it's great!

That thing where you screen capture your web site

It's quite pretty.  We look like a real open source project now.  Other than cementing our 2014 aesthetic, there are a few practical improvements.


We've got Tutorials!  And reference docs!  But we had those already.  Tutorials!

And then do a presentation of your web site

There are, as of writing, 17 short tutorials meant to be worked from start to finish.  Mostly.  There's some skipping around there in how you set up the project.  You'll see.

We cover everything from setting up your project to displaying tiled image maps to spheres and selection.  By the end of it, you'll have a pretty advanced, but weird looking, app.

Points to the first person to publish the tutorial as an app.  Negative points.

Partner Apps

Do you have an app that uses WhirlyGlobe-Maply?  Then you should get on the Apps page.  All you need is.
  • An app icon.
  • A link to the app store or your own page.
  • A short description.

This is totally not that thing

Right now TrailBehind's apps are at the top because this was their idea.  I'll sort it in the future, perhaps by release date or alphabetical.


This was a group effort.  Thanks go to everyone who worked on it.
  • Kim Rullo for the graphics
  • Eric Theise for the Jekyll and HTML husbandry
  • Michael Dougherty for the first cut at the documentation
What's up next is more tutorials.  I've got about a dozen more planned.  But first I want to see how people use the existing ones.  So get on out there and tutorialize!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

eLLaWalk - Maply Android App

I'm excited to announce the very first shipping Android app using the Maply toolkit.

eLLa Walk App

The eLLa Walk app for Android (did I mention Android?) is a promotional tie-in with the eLLa fragrance from Victorinox.

The app is tied to their web site where users assemble their Instagram photos into short hikes.   They can share the hikes, search for interesting ones and generally do social networking stuff.

The development agency was coANDco in the UK and they were a delight to work with (translation: paid on time).  I did the map.  That's what I do.  Maps.

Custom Map

They're using a custom map for their app (and the site).  Built with Mapbox tools, it's a great example of branding your map tiles.

The map functionality they otherwise needed was fairly basic.  There were screen markers for the pictures, remote tile paging, some specialized caching and a full range of finger gestures.

This being Maply it's threaded to the gills.  Even if we're only adding 20 markers, we're not going to slow the main thread or the rendering thread.  Otherwise, fairly normal stuff.

Maply For Android

As I mentioned in a recent post, Maply for Android is in Beta.  The official beta #1 is out and now there's a real shipping app on the Google Play store.

Next up, some cleanup, some documentation and more Android app projects.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Maply Android Beta 1

I'm pleased to announce the first real beta for Maply on Android.  This includes support for x86 and ARM based devices and has been tested back to Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean).

As a reminder, Maply is the 2D interactive map (e.g. slippy map) portion of the WhirlyGlobe-Maply toolkit.

Android & Maply - The History

The bulk of Maply was ported to Android months ago.  It was paid for by a client who changed plans part way through the project.  It happens.

I needed another project to bring it home.  I don't make my own apps, I need requirements and deadlines to focus my work.  Also, money.  Money is good.

Another client came along who needed a basic, but custom map.  Can't talk about them yet, but we shipped the thing.  It's on the Google Play store and everything.

WhirlyGlobe For Android?

Thus far I've focused on Maply, rather than WhirlyGlobe.  It's easier to market on Android and that's what clients have paid for.

The C++ rendering engine is the same between the two, as is much of the internal logic.  Only the gestures are really unique.

So yes, WhirlyGlobe will be along at some point.  It depends on clients.

State of Android

If you want to try it out, look to the develop_3_0 branch on github.  There's a script to build the whole thing called  That'll compile the ARM and x86 versions of the native library and put it all in one place.  You can extract the bits you need for Android Studio without much trouble.

I'm well aware that doesn't constitute a real release.  I plan to have the Maply AAR distributed from a central Maven repository and I plan to do a user's guide.

In the mean time, there is updated reference documentation.

Android & Me

I found Android development pleasant enough.  At the suggestion of the client I switched to Android Studio.  It can't compile the NDK side of things, so I still have to use Eclipse for that.  But for Java, it's nice.  I can see novice developers using it successfully.

The Android side of mousebird consulting (inc) is now fully open for business.  If you've got an app you want to build with Maply or WhirlyGlobe, let's talk.