Thursday, August 20, 2015

Cesium.js Terrain Support

We've been adding support for one of Cesium's terrain formats recently.  Cesium, if you don't know it, is similar to WhirlyGlobe-Maply, but for the web.

Our toolkit has its own gridded terrain format, but I'd rather use someone else's.  Cesium has a better thought out and much more expansive set of terrain formats and tools available.

I was recently invited to discuss it at a Cesium meeting in Los Angeles.

SIGGRAPH Presentation

I used to attend to SIGGRAPH religiously, but I haven't been back in years.  It was a blast to walk the exhibition and see what's new.  Lots, of course, but a lot still looks the same.  Heck, it still smells the same.  No no, not that way.  It's the air conditioning and the projection displays.

Anyway, I gave a short presentation at Cesium's Birds of a Feather meeting last week.  Slides can be found here.

The Short Version

But what you're probably wondering (if you're still reading) is how well does the Cesium terrain work?

It's a start
Cesium has a funky way of representing terrain tiles that don't match to your standard TMS/Google/OpenStreetMap/Mapbox view of the world.  So we can't overlay those data sets on top.  This is limiting.

The Future!

Obviously, I'd like to fix that.  We'll need to do some resampling of image tiles as they come in to match the Cesium terrain.  It'll be a bit slower, but simple enough for the user.

So for now, you can show Cesium terrain, but without images on top.  If you'd like to fix that, hey it's open source, go for it.  Or you can wait until someone pays us to do that.  I suspect it'll happen in the next few months.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Revisiting Support for WhirlyGlobe-Maply

A few months ago I introduced a support contract for WhirlyGlobe-Maply.  $600 USD for all the questions and bug fixes on the iOS version.

Nice 'stache, Australia

I like how support has turned out, but I need to make some tweaks.  But first up, who uses the toolkit?

Who Are The Users Anyway?

I had the image of a lone hobbyist beavering away at their personal project.  Yeah... not so much.  There are a few hobbyists, and they're cool, but they're rare.

So who is using it?  It's the serious app developers.  People doing it for a living, often part of a big corporation or at least something with revenue.  Organizations, if you will, who can afford to pay for things.

So You're Raising Prices?

Oh yeah.  I'm raising prices.  I'm spending more hours on support than I'm getting back in revenue and I'm not getting the overhead time I was after.

Support will now be $950/year.  I came up with that number by looking at hours spent, the number of contracts, and the desire to keep it a three digit number.

The support thing is working out well in every other way.  Seeing what people need and how they use it is really great.  And I've learned something really vital: people can write apps without me.

Wait?  The Toolkit Actually Works?

I know, right?  You could always write simple apps without me.  Now you can write big, complex ones without me.  WhirlyGlobe-Maply <sniff> is all grown up </sniff>.

HTML jokes.  Right below puns on the humor scale.

But I don't mind.  Not needing me is excellent!

So You're Going Broke, Then? 

Happily, no.  mousebird consulting (inc!) has business in the queue through early 2016.  We've just passed the revenue number for 2014.  Like, just a few days ago.

To pull that off, I've found a happy medium between pure toolkit features and whole app development.  Sort of whole module development, if you will.

What About Android?

Support is just for iOS at the moment.  See, the iOS version works more or less like it claims and I can fix any bugs that crop up.  The Android version isn't there yet.

It'll get there.  I've got big clients pushing big projects out on Android.  So it'll get there.

More!  I want more!

Okay, okay.  Fine.  How about this.  If I get 10 new support contracts by the end of 2015 I will set up automatic daily builds, some simple unit tests, and try monthly releases.  We'll have to see how that last one goes.

Plus, hey, features.

2.4: Day/night Shader + Atmosphere + Stars = Daaaaaamn

WhirlyGlobe-Maply 2.4 is almost out the door.  Beta5 just went up the other day and it is a scorcher.  Wow.  The stuff that's in 2.4 is just... daunting.  To write up, anyway.  I'm way behind.

Bored Now.  Wrap it up!

If you've already started talking to me about a support contract, you're grandfathered in at the old price.  Renewals will be a bit higher, but won't go all the way up to the new price.

Everyone new pays the new price.  But look at the benefits!  People are writing actual complex apps with just the support contract.  So can you!