Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fun with app

I don’t know about you but I was always fascinated by planes taking off from the airport. Those “marvels of steel and engineering” look so magnificent when they lift off the ground, with majestic precision, and slowly rise into the air before disappearing in a distance.

I vividly remember my excitement, as a young kid, when I spotted a plane landing or taking off while passing a local airport on the way to or from the countryside to visit my relatives. Now, thanks to and some clever technology, I can watch planes taking off and landing at almost any airport in the world, also those travelling across the globe - all day long, in real time and without leaving the house :-)

There is also an extensive range of information available on the site about individual planes and their flight details. Flight paths can be downloaded as a KML and/or shared via Twitter and Facebook. And if I miss some action, I can play back a whole day's worth of flights. The playback option allows users to select a date, the number of hours they wish to view and even the speed of the animation. Just try zooming out on the USA, set the time to 23 hours and the speed to 120x and watch. Fascinating… and very addictive! You guessed it, available for all types of smart phones as well.

First spotted on: Google Maps Mania

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Street View imagery API

If you “like what you see” on Google’s Street View you can now access/copy that image via a simple API. Last week Google released a new, free service that allows anybody to add a static image of a Street View to a web page, email to friends for reference, or clients, or else.... Travel and real estate related sites will probably be the first to take advantage of this new service from Google but I am sure creative developers will find many more ways to put that imagery to a good use. Time will show.

Unfortunately, it is not an easy task to “take the snap” exactly how you want it if you don’t know how to work out the heading and the pitch of a Street View. But help is on hand. Keir Clarke from Google Maps Mania has just created a very simple Static Street View Wizard application that automatically generates the URL for a static Street View image. Once you have generated the URL of a static Street View, using the wizard, you can just copy it and add to an image tag in HTML page, etc. To change the width and the height of the image, just adjust manually “size” parameter with relevant values (in pixels), eg. size=600x300 will return image 600px wide and 300px high. Street View images can be returned in any size up to 640 by 640 pixels.

There is a limit of 1,000 unique (different) image requests per viewer per day. However, since this restriction applies to end users/viewers, most developers should not need to worry about exceeding their quota.

Update: alternative Google Street View Generator

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Google drops Maps API for Flash

Google is continuing with rationalisation of its product portfolio. This time the axe has fallen on Google Map Flash API. Although the overall number of sites using Flash version of Google Map was relatively small, these were mainly sites offering rich display options, thematic rendering or BI-like dashboards ( comes to mind as an example). Maps API for Flash applications will continue to function in accordance with Google’s deprecation policy but no new features will be developed, and only critical bugs, regressions, and security issues will be fixed.

I only recently commented how choosing to work with Google provided technology can be a risky business since you never know when Google may decide to drop support for it. Unfortunately, unlike with open source code, due to “cloudy” and proprietary nature of many of Google products developers cannot get the source code and continue on their own.