Monday, May 14, 2012

Economist - World in Figures

This one was in development for a long, long time.  I was only involved with the globe portion a few months ago and then more recently to clear up a few details.  So here's what it looks like.

That's a picture taken from space.  The world is actually pastel.
It's ambitious as hell.  I recommend checking it out.  Basically, it's about traversing a data set, the kind of thing Economist subscribers would be interested in.  You've got all sorts of stats about countries, ways to graph and compare and so on.  The globe is just used for selection.

The Globe

Obviously, it's WhirlyGlobe or I wouldn't be mentioning it.  For all the complexity of the rest of the app, the globe is pretty simple.  There's one big image for the countries and their borders, chopped up into the usual chunks.  There's a layer of text on top of that for the country labels.  Lastly, all the selection is handled by an invisible lookup into a typical vector data set.

That last bit is a little different from my old approach.  Since we're not displaying the vector data, it isn't present in memory for selection.  However, you can do selection using the bounding boxes I build on top of the shape files.  That's what makes it reasonably zippy and keeps memory usage low.

Nowadays I almost always do that.  Once the vector data is converted into a raw Drawable form it's not convenient for selection.  Since selection can be (relatively) slow I just hunt around in the appropriately indexed vector data.  I'm doing that in the layer thread so a little delay is fine.

Data Visualization on the iPad

What they were trying to do here was interesting.  I've discussed similar things with other prospective clients.  People can get very excited about comparative statistics mapped on to a globe.  Most people don't have the money to spend or a really firm idea of what the product should be.  These folks obviously did and I think the app was a natural fit for their brand.

I wasn't closely involved with the project (sub-sub-contractor) so I don't know where they're going to take it.  Good use of WhirlyGlobe, though.  Very appropriate.

Friday, May 11, 2012

WhirlyGlobe 2.0 on github

It's not released yet, but I've made it public.  Don't make me regret it.

WhirlyGlobe 2.0 has a lot of neat stuff in it, but it's still very much in development.  I do have clients already using it and the damn thing is open source so it might as well be public.

For now, please use WhirlyGlobe 1.2 unless:

  • You've talked to me and you have some demonstrated need
  • You're paying me money to implement features for you in 2.0.
  • You're willing to use it silently and not bug me.

I'd say 2.0 is now past that tipping point where it's more a "thing" than an "idea" so it might as well be out there.  But again, not for general use.

Mapping Engines

I hint at this in the README and you can see it clearly in the code so I might as well just come out and say it.  I'm branching out from the 3D globe.  Turns out much of what I built is usable as a 2D (ish) map display engine.  Almost as if I planned it that way!

It'll be a 2D(ish) map display toolkit based on a 3D rendering engine.  I'm going for fast and sexy, a small niche for sure, but a much bigger one than WhirlyGlobe.

And no, please don't try to use what's in the WhirlyGlobe 2.0 tree for this.  It's not ready.


First comes WhirlyGlobe 2.0.  Expect that in early summer when some of the new features settle down.  I'm hoping to slip a couple of big changes in there first, but we'll see.

Then comes the rebranding and the release of the mapping toolkit.  WhirlyGlobe will remain, but under the umbrella of the new library with a new release number and so forth.  Yeah, that's a little confusing.  Expect that late summer.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Xweather - Extreme Weather

This one's been in development for a while and I'm really happy to see it published.

Xweather displays recent extreme weather events and lets users see where they were, what they were, and read details about that.  Check out the screen shot I just totally stole off their app store page.

It's pretty.  Buy it you cheap bastards.


"Where did they get that handsome globe?" you probably wouldn't bother asking.  Well, it's WhirlyGlobe obviously.  Duh.

For the most part this is just a stock WhirlyGlobe 1.2 globe.  eLoomn, the developers, paid me to add markers and that crazy animated marker functionality.  Looks pretty good actually, but that's all in 1.2 now.  I quite like how the markers turned out.

On a scale from "corporate sales office location display" to "iPad melting dynamic map application", this one would fall somewhere in the middle.  Pretty easy on my end, good use of WhirlyGlobe, not super complex.  They could take it in the iPad melting direction if they wanted to, but I like how they dialed in their ambitions for this first version.

The Future!

As usual I don't make a dime off this sucker, because that's not how I roll.  They have some cool ideas for the next version and, as always, I charge by the hour so I'd love to see this one take off.  Plus it's just pretty nice and they were really easy to work with.

I could see some WhirlyGlobe 2.0 insanity fitting nicely into this app.  [I suspect 2.0 based apps will pretty much all page the multi-res images]. But for now, it does what it does and it does it well.  Very cool.