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CycleStreets blog

News from CycleStreets

Archive for August, 2011

Cyclestreets iPhone app updated with new features and fixes

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

A new release of our iPhone app is now out. Go to the app store updates page and update today, or download the app if you don't already have it (it's free!).

Version 1.5.1 fixes various reported bugs (including the 'freezing map' bug that affected some installations).

So what's new?

Firstly, we've made various improvements to the itinerary listing page. There are more icons on the listing view to help distinguish the type of paths you'll be cycling on. We've also rearranged the itinerary map view to put the left/right buttons nearer your thumb, and enabled the Photos-en-route to be disabled. In areas like London and Cambridge these sometimes obscured the road names.

   

We've also added a new feature for Ordnance Survey fans – the OS Street View (open data) map is now available experimentally. You can switch the app over to this OS style (or to OpenCycleMap) on the settings page.

   

Next, the OpenCycleMap map view works much better. This is the second map option which highlights cycle paths and shows hills.

The app was previously using an older and slower map server (entirely our fault, not Andy who runs it!). We've updated to the recommended server, and ensured that you can zoom all the way in. As a result, OpenCycleMap now loads much quicker and in all its beautifully detailed glory!

   

Station codes have been added to into the search results – a mini-feature which some people will find useful.

If you take your bike on trains, or perhaps travel to London before hopping on a boris-bike (or indeed now to Newcastle on a ScratchBike!), you can enter the station code (e.g. KGX for King's Cross, CBG for Cambridge), and the app will find that directly. This is particularly useful if you regularly make cycle journeys to/from particular stations.

   

The full list of changes is:

  • OpenCycleMap map style now loads faster and to a higher zoom level.
  • New Ordnance Survey map style option (OS open data Street View).
  • Can now search for stations using the station code (e.g. KGX for King's Cross)
  • Better support for journey road types.
  • Ability to toggle route photos on/off in the itinerary view.
  • Freezing map bug fixed.
  • Bug fixes and UI enhancements.

An open source project – developers wanted!

This update to the app is thanks again to the hard work of Neil Edwards, who has done a few more days' work on it in his spare time. We can really recommend Neil if you need any iPhone app development doing.

The app is open source, and we'd really welcome volunteers to join our team. The code is on GitHub is available, and there are a range of new features and fixes we'd like to add – both small and big. So if you know Objective-C and would like to contribute to an app that's planned over 2 million km of cycle routes, do get in touch. Neil will be doing a tech posting soon, but don't let that hold you up.

Other platforms

Users of other types of phones need not feel left out … Our Android app will see another update soon. And our mobile web site is almost ready for release, meaning Blackberry/Windows/Symbian owners should have access to our routing on the go shortly – stay tuned for a blog post soon.

Cycle campaign toolkit – spec

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

We're pleased to publish an updated specification for the campaigner toolkit, following consultation with groups and including further changes.

There's been lots of useful feedback submitted by e-mail, twitter, blog replies, and in meetings we've had. These comments were turned into about ten pages of bullet-points (165 points!) for working into the spec.

Many of the points raised were useful points for clarification, or small new features, and a few raised issues relating to group structure. There were no problems raised with the substantive direction and nature of the toolkit.

The Description of the toolkit and what it will do is still available and has not needed to be updated. However, the full detailed functional specification has been updated and is below.

We were delighted to receive various positive comments which very much reflect our hopes for the system. For instance:

"One great advantage I can see is that it'll potentially help balance out the workload within our cycle campaign by allowing the latest status on any particular issue to always be seen on the system. Getting more campaign member involvement will also help with our committee's workload."

"I like the push/pull options of mail list and forum. Can't think of anything you've missed. I'm hopeful that this will encourage common issues to do with rules or conventions to float to the top and be tackled at source."

Things that have been updated or added in the spec, as a result of the consultation are:

  • Clarification of the idea of a 'Library' of best practice
  • Presence of tips to help best practice in campaigning
  • Specification of the polls and petitions components
  • Issues relating to federated/overlapping groups
  • Committee privacy basis
  • Notion of groups having democratically-agreed policy stances that members must adhere to
  • Clarifications about grouping and splitting of threads
  • Ability to involve elected Councillors rather than just officers
  • Tightening of a few areas regarding mail integration
  • Emphasis on outcomes rather than endless discussion
  • Notion of cross-member 'recommended campaign' topics
  • Daily digest
  • Removal of the notion of a compromise objective, which could undermine a group's negotiating position
  • Addition of avoidance of uploading very large volumes of documents, which could create costs
  • And various other minor changes

The latest version of the specification is available. It is now a living document that incorporates updates in the light of implementation as we move into the coding/design phase.

A draft Module structure (work in progress) which describes an implementation of the functional specification, is being finalised. This will form the basis of the developers' work.

CycleStreets has secured £27,000 of funding as a winner of Geovation – GeoVation is an Ordnance Survey initiative and forms part of the Ideas in Transit project with funding from the Technology Strategy Board and the Department for Transport.

We need a name for our campaigning toolkit!

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Since we won £27,000 for the development of our campaigning toolkit we've been pondering what to call it.

The themes we want to capture in the name are:

  • The idea of a central place where cycle users around the UK can submit problems they encounter on the street network
  • A central place to facilitate campaigning
  • Cycling (!)
  • Collaborative
  • Well-informed campaigning
  • Constructive and forceful debate but without being adversarial
  • Improving our streets and routes
  • Keeping track of all the problems and being able to manage them effectively
  • The ability to say "I'll report it on the … website" and write "Go to … to report/fix a problem"
  • Name needs to be short and catchy – long names are harder to type in

Here are some initial ideas we've had, though not all are usable names – it was just a brainstorm. We're not really happy with any of them. Can you help suggest a catchy name? Leave a comment below or drop us a line.

  • Helping campaigners campaign …
  • BetterBiking
  • CycleStars
  • CityRevolution
  • CyclingSorted
  • CycleTrac
  • CycleTicks
  • Complain.com
  • Cyclocracy
  • Cyclington
  • HelpThem2HelpUs
  • CyclingUpTheAgenda
  • CycleTherapy
  • CycleTraction
  • CycleActive
  • CycleActivist
  • Cyclamity
  • CycleUnison
  • CyclingIntelligence
  • CycleLand
  • PeletonPeople
  • CyclingBestPractice
  • PracticalPeople
  • CycleMyths
  • CycleBugs
  • CycleLeague
  • CycleLeaders
  • RideLeader
  • BikePatch
  • BikeFettling
  • BikePatch
  • Agenda4Change
  • PathRoute
  • RidePatch
  • PatchNetwork
  • PathStreets
  • StreetPatch
  • StreetStrategy
  • Strategy4Streets
  • StreetFocus
  • RouteStrategy
  • RouteToCommute
  • RouteShare
  • StreetLever
  • CrowdedStreets
  • CrowdedOut
  • StreetCrowd
  • StreetVision
  • CycleTool
  • ToolForStreets
  • StreetsAhead
  • FeasibleAndDesirable
  • Note>Log>Act
  • StreetsShared
  • OnRampForCampaigners
  • Vent
  • CyclingSoldiers
  • CycleMission
  • CrowdsourcingCyclingIssues
  • CycleLinks
  • Collaborate

CycleStreets has secured £27,000 of funding as a winner of Geovation – GeoVation is an Ordnance Survey initiative and forms part of the Ideas in Transit project with funding from the Technology Strategy Board and the Department for Transport.

Toolkit: technical options report

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

This is a technical post – you can stop reading now if you're not into web development!

We've been continuing to develop the spec that we recently published for the toolkit.

Several options for development have emerged.
We outline these in our Technical Options Report.

We'd welcome any comments.

CycleStreets has secured £27,000 of funding as a winner of Geovation – GeoVation is an Ordnance Survey initiative and forms part of the Ideas in Transit project with funding from the Technology Strategy Board and the Department for Transport.

CycleStreets Android app: join our code team

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Jez Higgins is the lead developer of our Android app. Here he writes about getting involved in the project.

Until Christmas last year, I'd never even thought of writing software for an Android phone. Yet within a month of googling "Android development quick start" I was committing code to the CycleStreets Android app. This indicates two things – writing code for Android is pretty easy to get in to, and the chaps at CycleStreets are pretty welcoming.

I don't remember quite how that happened. I'd used the website for a while and probably registered in the back of my mind that an Android app was in the works. When I wanted something more substantial than a toy example to play with, there it was on GitHub just asking to be forked. The basic shape of the code was there, laid down by Theodore Hong and incorporating pieces from Jono Gray's BikeRoute and Christopher Fraser's Cycloid. I made a little change and submitted a patch, something GitHub makes very easy, and that was that.

Because I have a job, and kids, and a dog, and the other joys and encumbrances of modern life I worked on the app in my space in between. Half an hour in the evening perhaps, an hour on the train. Bit by bit, piece by piece, it came together and really quite quickly. Because the heavy lifting of mapping and routing, provided respectively by the osmdroid library and by the CycleStreets website via its API, work could concentrate on wiring things up and making things happen. It wasn't without incident, of course, but the Android platform is well documented and surprisingly few quirks. Most of the time it was more a question of "how do I do this?" rather than "why is this happening?"

The app went live in the Android Market last month. At time of writing it's installed on around 3,250 people's phones. It might not (yet) be the most widely used piece of software I've worked on, but it's by far the most useful, and one of the most fun and satisfying.

Android developers: come on in

If you feel like dipping your toe into Android development but didn't know where to start, come and have go. If you're already swimming around in there, but fancy working on something that really does make a difference to people's lives this could be the project for you.

  1. Install the app so you know what it does
  2. Grab the code from GitHubgit@github.com:cyclestreets/android.git
  3. Have a read through the current issues list or just get in and start working the code.
  4. and .. Say hello [info@] – we'd love to hear from you!

Jez

We welcome your feedback, especially to report bugs or give us route feedback.

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