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.