Rearranging The Deckchairs

Frank O'Dwyer's blog

I Love the Smell of Code in the Morning

About a year ago I decided I wanted to create a cycle route site which was database backed and which allowed free sharing of cycle routes. There are a few sites similar to this already (e.g. Bikely, CTC maps), but they all have either limited coverage, they’re not free (as in speech, not free as in beer), or they have copyright issues. The CTC site is a great site, very similar to what I wanted to create but it requires you to belong to the CTC in order to use the routes. The CTC is even a good organisation and I have used it in the past, and probably will join again, however why should I need to pay them if I want to share a route with them? CTC maps is neither free as in speech nor free as in beer. Bikely is also quite nice and has a good following, but it derives its data from copyrighted (google) maps (rather than simply displaying the route on them) and it is a little vague as to who owns the resulting database. It is free as in beer but not free as in speech. Weirdly, it’s also not very cyclist oriented. I’m really not interested in following a google maps turn by turn animation on my laptop when I’m cycling up a hill in the pouring rain. I want to be able to print that route off and take it on my bike! But anyway, I’m just not interested in riding for miles and hours and then have somebody else own the fruits of my work…hence opencycleroute.org. (If you’re a cyclist, then please sign up and submit routes!…if you’re a coder or a web designer, then go get the source and hack on it) So now about a year later I have started to write the application and I have something usable. It must be about three years since I wrote any code, and this is also the first time I’ve ever gone near a SQL database of my own volition. Thank god for Ruby on Rails is all I can say. Very impressed with this framework, which has allowed me to knock an initial version of opencycleroute.org together in spare time over the space of a few weeks (though I suspect the security of the resulting application is pants - acts_as_authenticated, in particular, is an overcomplicated load of bollocks). technorati tags:cycling, code, ruby, rails, opencycleroute