Wednesday, October 10, 2012

RUSA Permanent Locations Map

It was just over two years ago that I got the idea to create a Google Map showing the starting locations of all RUSA permanents.  My original goal was to make it easy to find permanents when I went travelling on business trips.  But I found it even more useful to discover new perms which had been created in my own back yard.

The RUSA permanent program has been incredibly successful.  The number of perms has more than doubled since I started the map.  As of last night, there were 1690 active perms in existence.

But a side effect of this success is that the data being plotted on the map grew to where it far exceeded the limitations of the mapping engine being used.  As a result, the map intermittently appeared very erratic, sometimes hiding the perms in cities, sometimes sending users off to the Atlantic Ocean near Africa (where latitude and longitude are both zero).

Users noticed.  As the number of problem reports increased this past summer, I started looking into alternative mapping engines.  Thanks to a suggestion from the RUSA webmaster (actually one of his many excellent suggestions), I decided to convert everything over to use the map engine in Google's Fusion Tables.  Google says there are huge capacity limits in this service, so I am hoping it will last for a good while longer.  As part of the change, the map is now maximized full-screen, the left-hand column is gone, the list of perms in each pop-up is now columnized, and each list of perms is now sorted by distance.  All that, and it seems to run a bit faster for me too.

And it hasn't sent anyone into the ocean yet.

Click on the photo at left to acccess the new map.  And let me know if you see any problems.

PS: Smart web programmers can make wonderful map presentations using data from Google Fusion Tables.  Let me know if you'd like to create fancier or more useful maps to share with RUSA members.  You are welcome to access the data.

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