Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Initial thoughts on ARML

Yesterday at Where 2.0, I went to a great talk by Derek Smith of SimpleGeo and Martin Lechner of Mobilizy on Augmented Reality.. It was a great talk, but readers of my blog will probably not be surprised that I latched on to document formats as an issue. Here's an example from the ARML Specification:




<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<kml xmlns="http://www.opengis.net/kml/2.2"
xmlns:ar="http://www.openarml.org/arml/1.0"
xmlns:wikitude="http://www.openarml.org/wikitude/1.0"
xmlns:wikitudeInternal="http://www.openarml.org/wikitudeInternal/1.0"><Document>
<ar:provider id="mountain-tours-I-love.com">
<ar:name>Mountain Tours I Love</ar:name>
<ar:description>My preferred mountain tours in the alps. Summer and Winter.</ar:description>
<wikitude:providerUrl>http://www.providerhomepage.com </wikitude:providerUrl>
<wikitude:tags>travel, hiking, skiing, mountains</wikitude:tags>
<wikitude:logo>http://www.mountain-tours-I-love.com/wikitude-logo.png </wikitude:logo>
<wikitude:icon>http://www.mountain-tours-I-love.com/wikitude-icon.png </wikitude:icon>
</ar:provider>
...


I love seeing KML used in other markups. However, I'd prefer to see something more like this:


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<kml xmlns="http://www.opengis.net/kml/2.2"
xmlns:ar="http://www.openarml.org/arml/1.0"
xmlns:wikitude="http://www.openarml.org/wikitude/1.0"
xmlns:wikitudeInternal="http://www.openarml.org/wikitudeInternal/1.0"><Document>
<ExtendedData>
<ar:provider id="mountain-tours-I-love.com">
<ar:name>Mountain Tours I Love</ar:name>
<ar:description>My preferred mountain tours in the alps. Summer and Winter.</ar:description>
<wikitude:providerUrl>http://www.providerhomepage.com </wikitude:providerUrl>
<wikitude:tags>travel, hiking, skiing, mountains</wikitude:tags>
<wikitude:logo>http://www.mountain-tours-I-love.com/wikitude-logo.png </wikitude:logo>
<wikitude:icon>http://www.mountain-tours-I-love.com/wikitude-icon.png </wikitude:icon>
</ar:provider>
</ExtendedData>
...

It may seem like a small change, but ExtendedData was explicitly designed to be a bucket of tags that are carried around with any KML Feature. While the current specification "works" in Earth, that's because it is forgiving, and other KML implementers might not parse it as well. Using ExtendedData would stick closer to the KML specification.

My Slides from Where 2.0 GeoSpatial Cloud

My Where 2.0 Slides Going Mobile

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Hate Slides

OK, I admit it, I hate slides. Maybe it dates to when I was a kid and had to sit through many slide shows by parents, teachers, and other adults in my life. Oh, I should say for those of you who are not old enough to remember this, slides used to be bits of film, with a special projectors. That may have shaped my early dislike of a static medium.

Now, today's presentations are much more lively, you can do lots of fun stuff with them. Play videos, animate text, blink tags (nooooo!!!!!) and much more. My company even makes a product where you can collaboratively develop slides.

But, fundamentally slides are a data sink. How do you get data out of a slide? Copy and paste. It promotes a style of presentation that is artfully designed, and final. Sure, you can copy slides back and forth from one deck to another. Sure, you can change how they look, and copy and paste the text into other documents. But try to get the data out of the slides programatically. Or better yet, auto generate some slides from data. Wouldn't it be great to have all your slides tagged for content, or have it in an XML format that allowed you to XQuery for specific content?

The other thing I hate is it encourages people to think they can present a topic if they have the slides. That they don't need to know the actual content, just be able to read the slides and ad lib a bit. Slides should be an end point, a representation of an accumulated knowledge.

I prefer to show code or run demos, but there's usually not a great way to share that kind of presentation off a conference web site. But there's a well established tradition of sharing slides.

I actually developed a really not great version of a slides database back in 2005. It ran on Berkeley DB and had a Java interface. I realize how hard it is to conceptualize this kind of app.
I'm not saying I have the answer either. But I'm really tired of apps that are just about presenting data and don't actually allow any access to that data. How did we get to a point where the static visualization of content was the final point of how to communicate it? Why is our model for content sharing an outmoded form of film production?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Slides from WebMapSocial on Crisis Mapping

My slides from WebMapSocial tonight. The whole subject was crisis response, and it was a great crowd!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Client-Side Geocoding Rocks!

Part of my job is to help partners with their code, making sure they are successfully implementing on Google Earth and Maps. The most common problem people come to me with is something like "Can you give me more quota, my http geocoding limit is reached." This is for the free Google Maps API. There's a simple solution. Don't do it!

The way the quota for the Google Maps API geocoder works is by IP address. If you put the geocoder in your JavaScript code (or Flash) it's rendering in the browser. And therefore counts against the IP address quota of the browser, not your site. If you have a single server side script that does an IP address lookup, it's going to be against the single IP address of the server. In other words, if your site is popular, you're going to run out quickly.

So, geocode in the browser and then send the geocode to do your lookup. We even allow for caching, as long as you're going to display on a Google Map or Google Earth. Caches can happen in the browser or server side.

A few additional things to think about:
1) Cloud computing services often share a range of IP addresses. If you're running on AWS or Google App Engine or any other cloud computing service, you particularly want to do client side geocoding, as you may be running quotas parallel to other apps.

2) Some mobile networks share IP addresses as well. That can cause problems for your client side software, as lots of people on their smart phones are looking at your map. If you anticipate heavy mobile use, you might consider having a server-side back-up as a fail-over. Try to geocode and if that doesn't work, send the address to your server for http geocoding.

3) If you're still running into problems with quota, you may consider a Maps API Premier license. Check out http://maps.google.com/getmaps for more information on the differences and to get started.