Posts Tagged ‘dynamic maps’

More boundaries

Posted: 26 January 2014 in Guides
Tags: , ,

I may have jumped the gun on the mapmask but I think the boundary idea is sound. I can always incorporate the masks in the future when they’re ready.

Some district boundaries are easier to decipher than others. The little ones like Soho, Leicester Square and Covent Garden are clearly defined by roads, so they’re simple to understand and easy to trace from Open Street Map.

Hammersmith and Fulham appears to be the borough of the same name for the most part, except there is a chunk carved out around Olympia and something odd happening in the north.  I think railways and canals are involved as nothing else seems to explain the northern deviancy.  It was easy until this section turned it into the hardest I’ve tried to set up so far.  Holborn-Clerkenwell is also an odd shape but at least seems to follow some sort of logic, albeit skipping between different borders and roads more-or-less at random.  It was harder than its western neighbours but relatively straightforward once the logic of it had clicked.

I’ve already noticed some errors I’ve made in placing listings between districts, so I am convinced that doing this has value.  It should be especially useful for casual users: adding a listing to Wikivoyage is probably the easiest microtask in all of the Wikimedia sorority but, if I’m having this problem even after trying to decipher the district map, then I expect it to be worse for others who have just turned up at a page for the first time.

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A problem I’ve encountered a few times since beginning my attempt to upgrade all of the London guides on Wikivoyage is the boundaries of districts.  In particular, checking the project’s Inner London map against each guide, it’s often hard to reverse-engineer the logic behind these divisions.  This makes it hard to decide on which guide a listing should be placed.  It certainly seems to have confused past editors, as I’ve found several misplaced listings so far and a few duplicated ones.

A chance discovery looks like it can fix that.  While checking some details with an eye towards my first itinerary, which may not be up for a little while yet, I noticed the “Adding boundaries and tracks” section of How to use dynamic maps (which I have read before but never really noticed this bit at the end).   Apparently, I can use a GPX trace to draw a border around the area on the attached dynamic map.  Possibly the reason why I didn’t get this earlier is that it is largely unused at the moment: there were only sixteen maps (guides and itineraries) on the project using this function before I added my own.

Map of South Kensington and Chelsa with a blue border

South Kensington-Chelsea map with the boundary.

Then, while exploring this system and trying to understand it fully, I came across another, complimentary function: the mapmask template.  It took a while to understand it; I thought the effect was generated by the previous function in some way but couldn’t work out how.  Eventually I found the template concerned.  This is actually used on fewer guides, eleven instances, and not all the same instances as the boundary trace.  The template uses the same GPX information but alters the map to slightly grey-out everything outside the boundary.

Map of South Kensington and Chelsa with a blue border and greyed area outside of it

South Kensington-Chelsea map with the boundary and the mask.

I think it looks quite good, and leaves no doubt about what’s inside or outside the district.  They could be used apart but I’ve used both for now, just in case.  I intend to roll this out to every guide for London eventually, although reverse-engineering the actual border from the map took a while here (it mostly follows the borders of the borough for a while, but leaves out half of it for another guide and annexes parts of Fulham and Westminster).  It might be even harder for some of the others.

Map of part of a city with lots of coloured dots

The South Kensington-Chelsea dynamic map in its current state.

I chose South Kensington-Chelsea as the destination article to work on first (that would be The One with the Museums to non-Londoners). It was already a developed guide, albeit only rated as “Usable” status which in Wikipedian terms is somewhere between start class and (maybe) B class.

After adding latitudes and longitudes to all of the existing listings (which was moderately tedious, although getting easier), adding some new listings and adding a version of the dynamic map I found on the guide to The City, I’m worried there may actually be too much stuff there now.

The slippy, dynamic map is covered in overlapping coloured dots.  This could seem a little busy.  I think it looks OK on the larger map but at this level of zoom the sea of points of interest might be overwhelming.

The sections themselves are mostly at or exceeding the recommended 7±2. Hopefully sub-bullets don’t count towards that limit. I have already split up “See” a few times but it might need yet another subsection.  Possibly for street furniture.  I still want to add a few points, like an old postbox.

Luckily there doesn’t seem to be that much to do in the destination.  Conversely, there are a lot of places to sleep and certainly a lot more that could be added, although the current selection is probably sufficient for now.  The guide doesn’t even have a “Cope” section yet and “Connect” could be expanded.  This risks a wall of coloured dots instead of a functional map.