Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Random thoughts about maps etc

Well we finally made it through demo season here in GeoVISTA. I managed to build a collaborative map exploring/sharing application (which sadly is on a locked web site). But basically it works in the way I laid out here a few posts back. As users request data from GeoServer I intercept the request and store the bounding box and other details of the request and then pass the request to the server. Users can then request a geoRSS feed of these transactions and see them displayed on a map using mapbuilder. If desired users can opt to follow another user so that their map view is updated to match the other users as they move about the map. All in all we were quite pleased with the results. We've also started to implement using a WFS/T to allow user annotation on the map. This works, but we want to extend it so users can add to each others comments and older comments become more translucent with age.

I've recently become fascinated by folksonomies such as and CiteULike. I've been mulling over what you would need to do to make a similar system for maps. Ideally I'd like a user to be able to look at any map on the web and tag it to a central database. But to start with I was thinking of just building a custom map front end on top of a catalogue and allowing users to browse and tag through that. Then the next time you wanted to find a map of sea surface temperature for the Mexican Gulf quickly it would be at your fingertips along with other relevant hurricane maps.

This then leads back to work as I'm also investigating ontologies, semantic web type things and how they might integrate with mapping and analysis tools. So I might actually get around to building a test system.