5 days ago
Update on maps and the like...
We appear to have successfully found a source of suitable map tiles, which we will be serving ourselves. There are terms and conditions around these (involving how much information CanalPlan makes available that we will have to meet, but are things we really ought to be doing anyway, and will do so - it just adds to the work involved).
We will, however, have to re-write all the code that put canals and labels etc on the maps, as the new map interface works differently and this will undoubtedly take some time.
Thank you very much for your donations to date, which should be enough to keep Google off my back. Any leftovers will go towards boosting the server to support the additional processing needed to support the maps. We've decided to hide the maps from drive-by visitors, but not require anything other than logging on to display them (and yes, I know that means I'll have to get down and fix some long-standing quirks in the account management process!) - this will keep the load on our server manageable while not seriously reducing the usability of the site.
We'll from time to time put work in progress up on beta (beta.canalplan.org.uk) - feel free to have a look (at the moment there are completely unadorned maps on the gazetteer but nothing else - it's just the first proof of concept (including supporting 4 blocks of maps for different regions of the world)).
Thanks to all for your support and mutual indignation over the last week - it's been uplifting while we've struggled with this unexpected setback. ... See MoreSee Less
So how would people feel if the gazetteer maps looked like this. ... See MoreSee Less
After the problem with Google Maps we're playing around with several alternatives.. ... See MoreSee Less
I'd really like to keep CanalPlanAC as simple and easy and free to operate as it is. I do welcome the occasional small donations I get from time to time, and they pay for the occasional bit of hardware or something. That's how I'd like to do it, the idea of having tiered membership, charging for extras etc is both counter to the spirit, and would involve a huge amount of work that I'd rather put into enhancing the capabilities of the site.
Plus theres' the challenge of scale. The unexpected bill for July was - to the nearest fiver - £200. That means annual running costs of something around £2,500. Frankly, If I could easily make two-and-a-half grand plus from CanalPlan I'd make a lot more than that and reduce my day-job and spend more time working on the site!
The way forward has to be, I think, greatly reduced use of Google maps, including turning them off by default and supplementing by alternatives wherever possible. But before I do that I have to work out how to set things up so that I don't get another unexpected bill like this. Until I do, it's not more Google maps at all I'm afraid. When I get my new credit card (the previous one got cancelled because they thought this must be fraudulant!) it's not going into the Google accounts system until I know this can't happen again.
All this (plus me wanting to get some boating done!) means, I'm afraid that it will be quite some time before we get maps fully up and running again, and in the transition it will be an interesting decision to do the easy but not that useful (gazetteer) ones versus the really useful but complicated (route planning). The immediate step is to remove the irritating failure displays and turn off the map options.
In the meantime, if anyone does want to make a small donation to cover these costs, please let me know that it is for that, and what you want me to do with it if I get more than enough or Google back down on the bill (options include: refund it, give it to canal restoration, keep it as a general "thank you" donation). There's a paypal button on the home page. ... See MoreSee Less
Just to allay people's fears - the problem we're having with Google Maps isn't going to mean Canalplan is going away. Without maps some parts of Canalplan don't work fully but the main functionality of the site is still fully functional.
The issue with Google is down to how much they are now charging for access to their Maps API. Canalplan is funded through on-site advertising which until recently had covered the running costs of the site - but now with the change to Google charging it doesn't by a significant amount.
We are looking at various alternatives but none of those involve making Canalplan a pay for use site. ... See MoreSee Less
Water shortages on the canals.. There are a large number of overnight closures on lock flights introduced by C&RT to save water. These have been loaded into Canalplan as Opening Time records rather than closures as they do not stop cruising, they just make it harder. ... See MoreSee Less
A day after the new stoppages maps...
We have a really big problem with Google maps (well, with Google really) that they are hoping to get back to me about "in the next 2-3 business days". Until (at least) then I've turned them off. Knowing big companies I have serious doubts they will ever come back.
I will work out what to do next, but it may take quite some time, especially with summer holidays coming on.
Will publish more when I've got to the bottom of just exactly *what* is going on. For the moment please note that I am very cross, rather upset and extremely pee-d off. ... See MoreSee Less
2 weeks ago
Seems all this stoppage stuff has been too much for CP - currenly in "down" mode too !! ... See MoreSee Less