Simon Willison’s Weblog

Entries tagged googlemaps

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Is there an open source (or freely accessible) database of geofence coordinates for common places, such as cities or national parks?

Take a look at Flickr’s openly licensed shapefiles:

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Does the Google Maps API let you remove details of the map such as street names to focus on pins on the map?

Yes—you can do this with map styles (which allow you to set the visibility if road labels, among other things): http://developers.google.com/map...

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Web app: what programming knowledge do I need to create a goings on app?

For this kind of application a much more important question than "how can I build it? is "where will I get the data from?"—If you don’t have a good answer for that building the app is a waste of your time. The world is littered with local events listings apps that no one uses because they don’t have good data.

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Why is everyone so obsessed with picking faults with Apple’s new maps on the iPhone?

Because this is actually a really big deal. For a lot of people (especially those who live in a big city like London or New York) the maps app is one of the most-used apps on their phone. The new iOS maps are a huge regression, not just in terms of map quality but also in terms of search results. On iOS 6 (at least here in the UK) you can’t even type in a simple address and trust that your phone will show you a pin in the right place.

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How come Google Maps provides so many more local Wikipedia entries that GeoNames?

My guess is that GeoNames just uses the latitude/longitude fields from Wikipedia (you can see them in the top right corner of most pages that describe a place), whereas Google actually do some text analysis and attempt to geocode articles themselves, even if they don’t have an exact latitude longitude assigned to them.

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Hack Day tools for non-developers

We’re about to run our second internal hack day at the Guardian. The first was an enormous amount of fun and the second one looks set to be even more productive.

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wikinear.com, OAuth and Fire Eagle

I’m pleased to announce wikinear.com. It’s a simple site that does just one thing: show you a list of the five Wikipedia pages that are geographically closest to your current location. It’s designed (or not-designed) to be used mainly from mobile phones.

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Google Maps and XSL

I’ll probably write more on this later, but it seems that Google Maps is using XSL. I spotted it loading the following pages while sniffing its activity with LiveHTTPHeaders:

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