Archive for March, 2007

Google Maps API feature request

March 5th, 2007

Through this article at the geonames blog I found the ‘API Feature Requests’ page.

This page lists feature requests for the Google Maps API. If you like a feature and it’s already listed, you can write your name next to it to. If it’s not listed you can append it to the list.

There are a few very interesting feature requests.

‘Compatibility with other map APIs’. This is the feature request the article at the Geonames weblog talks about. Indeed it would be very nice if there’s a common API which is shared between all the Map vendors. There can be different reasons why you want to switch between different maps, eg the license changes, the area your application is about is covered better in a different map, etc. One problem I can think of with this approach is the that the feature set is not the same for every Map. So this common API can only cover the basics, but maybe that’s enough?

If you want a common API right away you have to take a look at projects like myMap, or Mapstraction. These projects are adding an extra layer on top of the major Map APIs from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. You could also use the Open Layers API which also supports the APIs of these vendors.

Another nice feature request is ‘Ability to restrict geocoder to a particular region, country’. If this would be possible and your application is about a specific region you even could create an auto completion search on addresses.

If you’re using the Google Maps API a lot, take a look at the list and add your name or feature request to it.

About this blog (2): Status

March 2nd, 2007

This is the second post in a series I’m writing about this blog, a sort of “The making of….”. This time the status of this blog.

The main thing I can say about the status of this blog is “It works!”.

When building this blog I used the some of the guidelines from the great book Getting Real by 37signals:

  • “Build half a product, not a half-ass product”: This blog’s main purpose is to help me to write. That’s why I started with building the Posts functionality, not with the comments, tagging, etc. These can be added later on (tagging is already implemented).
  • “Don’t wast time on problems you don’t have”: At the moment I started writing this blog, all the posts fitted on one page (and they still do). So why worry about pagination and creating next/previous links? That’s something I have to take care of before the list of posts grows too big to fit on one page.

At this moment a part of this website is still static, e.g. the homepage. After I’ve written a new blog entry I have to manually add it to the homepage (a list of the three latest posts is shown on the homepage). Is this a problem? No! Would it be nice to have the three latests posts show up on the homepage automatically? Absolutely!

Another example, there’s no automatic ping build in right now. After a post has been added I go to the Technorati website and press the ping button. Is this a problem? No! Would it be nice if the blogging software did this automatically? Absolutely!

Because of the things I have to do manually it takes a little more time to publish an entry, but it’s not impossible.

My css is not complete, not every Textile markup element has a customized style. I just use them and when something isn’t displayed the way I want it to, I’ll add it to the css.

In the near future I’m planning to add the following features:

  1. Comments
  2. Pagination
  3. Ping
  4. Trackback
  5. Everything else I come up with

“Start with what you really need and add everything else later”, that’s something I’m planning on doing in my other projects also.

About this blog (1): Custom Made

March 1st, 2007

In my first post I promised to write some more about this blog and how I created it. I’m going to write a few posts about this subject, so let’s start with the first one: Why I use custom made blogging software.

Before creating my own blogging software I looked at a lot of out-of-the-box products or blogging platforms (why reinventing the wheel?).

Because I’m on a journey from Java development to Ruby on Rails development I specially looked at the Rails based blogging software, like Typo, Mephisto and SimpleLog. There are a few reasons why I decided to build my own blog from scratch:

  1. I wanted a simple blogging app. Not one with which I could maintain my complete website. Just use it for the weblog and integrate it into the website (which is also a Ruby on Rails app). This must be possible with the three programs I looked into, but all the tutorials and howto’s I found were based on building a standalone weblog.
  2. For another project I’m working on I needed the possibility to create a lot of (small) weblogs. In Mephisto it’s possible to create multiple pages which behave like a weblog, but I needed a weblog which is related to a user.
  3. I’m not that experienced with Ruby on Rails and building your own blogging app seems to be a good start 😉

Next time I’ll tell some more about the status of the software and what still needs to be done.