Notes from the project meeting of July 31st

Action report
All the actions from the July 21st meeting have been done.

WP2 Status
We have enhanced the interface to produce a usable demo, including navigation between layers and overlaying of different layers.  We have improved the HTML/CSS that we produce to better support multiple browsers.
EDINA provided better code for mapping between projections which has helped a lot.
Images are now served via a web proxy so that VPN access is not required.
One limitation is that as the historical maps are only available at certain zoom levels, the user can zoom to levels where no historical information is available.

WP3 Plans
The first task, which is under way, is to add functionality so that the blue dot moves on the map as the user moves.
We will refine navigation between layers by adding buttons to switch directly between layers.
Then we will provide support for landmarks and for defining simple routes via waymarkers.
The result should be suitable for the extended user testing of WP4.

We will postpone the provision of simple note tagging as this is not as much a priority as the other tasks.

WP5 preview

WP5 was deliberately left underspecified so that we could respond to user feedback and experience.  Currently is seems likely that tasks for WP5 will include administration facilities for building routes and work to dynamically reposition the overlay of maps to ensure better alignment based on the user’s current position.

Peter to blog potential requirements
Karlyn to find users outwith the project team to try the system in its current state.

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Budget in JISC form

Just somewhere to put the JISC templated budget so that it can be referenced in the Project plan!


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Typographic Map – This is quite amazing and kind of related to our discussion about Tag Clouds and Mapping

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Talk of Deloreans and TagClouds

As we got our demo working our next phase is to move onto actually making it do something.  So after some sessions with Chris and Karlyn, Petra and I went away and attempted to come up with something useful which would describe some of the processes and screens in a meaningful way.  After some furious white-boarding, scribbling, crossing out, revising and chatting we managed to get a fairly workable model and a clear set of tasks/functions.

I used balsamiq mockups to create some fairly loose demo screens, which is a great prototyping tool as it has iphone templates making it easy to frame everything in a mobile context.

Here are some of the results.  Describing the starting points and what happens when the user goes back in time

After talking about some of these things we started to discuss how to represent time as a navigation item in the system.  Petra and I had originally proposed the size of the marker being how far back or forward in time the object is located.  Allowing the user to shift between maps and map sets without having to fully understand the datasets available to them.  Karlyn and Chris expanded on this by looking at it a different way and using the title of the landmark as a kind of visual “Tag Cloud”, and perhaps using the number of comments a landmark gets to influence the size of the text – removing the time element but creating an interesting social/folksonmy element. This style also lends itself to using tagging etc to create different perspectives on the data.

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User Experience notes

Ok so a stab at describing the user experience based upon todays meeting.picture-4

Click here for the pdf

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Notes from the project meeting of July 21st

This meeting marked the end of WP1 (Configuration of Mobile Mapping Technologies) and the start of WP2 (Defining the User Experience)  These are the notes that I took from the meeting.

Report on WP1
We have a working demo.  It can link GPS to the historical maps from EDINA and also Google Maps.  We are using Google Maps to control the positioning and zoom, which we then use to select the appropriate parts of the historical maps.  There is some work needed to map the Google coordinates to the EDINA coordinates.

The demo uses web APIs for maximum portability, including the W3C geolocation Javascript API which runs on the (very) latest versions of Safari, Chrome and Firefox.

There may be a legal limitation with Google maps when we eventually add authentication to control access to the licensed EDINA service and to our WalkThruT server.  We could use Open Street Map instead.  Also, we are not allowed to change the projection of the Google maps; we would have to convert our maps into that projection.

Tasks to be completed
This is just a prototype.  Many things need to be improved.  To pick a small example, flipping from portrait to landscape doesn’t work.

We need to fix inaccuracies in the mapping between projections, from the one used by Google (which favours North America) to the British National Grid.  Petra and Peter will discuss this with EDINA this afternoon.  Tim said that EDINA could put more conversion support in the map server, e.g. TileCache can hold pre-computed projections at different fixed zoom levels.

Questions to explore in WP2
We need to explore whether we can provide our own navigation, e.g. via the Open Layers Javascript library.  OpenLayers is designed for web sites so may need some modification to work with touch screens.  Writing all this from scratch might be time consuming, which would be a distraction from getting users up and running.

The ECA team should give feedback on the user interface, e.g how to switch between maps, whether you can overlay maps, etc.  This is not a formal usability analysis, just informal feedback.

When switching between maps, we need to be aware that different maps are only available at different scales.

How should the landmarks and routes be displayed to the users?  What makes most sense?  How much information should be visible?  It would seem desirable to keep the plain image as one view.

What do we want to show when a user reaches the edge of the historical map?  Currently the server returns white space (which is its correct behaviour).  The map data doesn’t include an outline of where the map data ends.

Different towns were mapped in different times and distances.  E.g moving from Edinburgh to Musselburgh might be displayed in different times or scales.  One idea is that when we zoom out, the display just shows hatched areas where map data is available, without trying to convey more detail.

It’s worth noting the dates we have for the historical maps is the publication date, which may be up to 20 years after the survey date.

Do we want our information links to include links to paintings of the particular area, as well as text information?

Immediate actions

  • Petra and Peter to discuss projections with EDINA.
  • Peter to set up VPN access for Chris, Ian and Karlyn so that they can test.
  • Chris, Karlyn, Peter and Petra to meet again this week and twice next week.
  • Dave to put meeting minutes on blog.
  • Dave to arrange the purchase of the Mac mini.
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Phone Mock up

Might it, just might it look like this?!!!


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Our area for testing

area1This is the area that we’ll be testing the project around.

The area is steeped in history and has a great many historical maps that re kept online for us to access.

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One Small Step…

One small step for the Team. On Friday we managed to get our first image rendered locked to our position  – well in truth after a little bit of fiddling around, we got it.
This was done using Javascript to get the position and then a call to the map server and out came an image which was pretty close to where we were using an iPod Touch but it should work with most platforms that support the Javascript.

We are currently exploring some of the techniques and methods we can use to try and navigate within the map and the phyisical space.

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Community Mapping

An interesting article about all things community mapping and even the use of pigeons.

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