Thursday, 13 December 2007

Ordnance Survey: "OS Open Space"

The excellent Mark Moxon has posted a comment on my last posting about the Ordnance Survey which points to a Guardian article today about a new service being launched by Ordnance Survey: "OS Open Space".

From the OS OpenSpace FAQ's I have copied the following:

"OS OpenSpace™ FAQ

1. General

1.1 What is OS OpenSpace?

OS OpenSpace is a free Ordnance Survey service that allows you to embed Ordnance Survey maps covering England, Scotland and Wales in your web applications using our Javascript® application programming interface (API)."

It then gets incredibly verbose and complicated and I do not pretend to understand a word of it, so I shall be phoning them to get a translation in English that I understand. (Why do the O.S. hide behind complete and utter technno-gibber when they explain things? Why can they not write in plain English that I can understand? I don't think I am a complete idiot when it comes to the English language - I may bust it up a bit, I may be make grammatical howlers, but I always think that my readers will be able to understand what I am banging on about. So why do the Ordnance Survey feel the need to completely bamboozle me with technological jargon? Why do they not give me examples of what they are talking about so at least I can fathom out what they are going on about?)

Oh well - it's a long phone call to the OS coming up to see if this sorts out my problems. Will I at last be able to post my digital Anquet maps onto my blog?

Will they force me to commit a criminal act and publish them anyway? Will they take me to court?

Or, will this new service actually remove all these obstacles at last so that I can at last publish what I want to publish on the web - my 100 or so days of walking on my maps.

I will let you know!


  1. And I think you are right about the use of English Alan.


  2. Hi Alan.

    Having read the FAQ myself (which I thought was very concise and informative - uh oh, I must be a techie!) it looks as if the new OS system is identical in concept to Google Maps. It allows you to include an OS map in your own website, as long as you use their new OS Open Space interface. The maps appear in your web page, with your route and waypoints overlaid on top, but the map data actually lives on the OS servers, so although the maps are available via your website, they're not hosted by you. Your site talks to the OS servers through an interface called an API, using Javascript in your web page.

    Google Maps is exactly the same: my LEJOG site uses the Google Maps API, accessed via Javascript, to display their maps with my route and points of interest on top, like this:

    It looks as if the OS version will allow me to do the same, but with OS maps in the background, rather than Google's maps and satellite images. I'll certainly be giving it a go when it launches.

    So, in order for you to get your route into the OS Open Space system (or, indeed, Google Maps), you need to digitise your route somehow. Didn't you already enter your route into Anquet maps on your PC? If so, then you can export from Anquet as an AEF file, and with a bit of technical wizardry (or a product like GPS Utility), you can convert this export for use with Google Earth, Google Maps and, in the new year, OS Open Space.

    I'd be happy to help with this, if you like; I do it all the time with my GPS, Google Earth, Google Maps and Map Source, and it's not difficult when you know how. Embedding a map into your website is a little more challenging, but it wouldn't be hard to amend my code to work on your site.

    Feel free to email me an AEF file of your route if you'd like me to take a look at the options. I don't have Anquet, but I believe you have to select all your paths and waypoints, and then choose the Export option (which may or may not be in the Tools menu, from what I read).


  3. Alan and Mark: you beat me to it - I am about to blog about this.

    Alan - this could be what you are looking for. It won't give you the total control of having the map images yourself, on the other hand you get a lot of interactive functionality built-in.

    Mark: which mapping software do you use (if any) and which format do you export for use with Google Maps?.

  4. Hi Geoff.

    I initially wrote my own Javascript code that worked in a similar way to Google Maps' My Maps feature (though it was a lot more primitive). I now use My Maps to enter my routes, and save them out as Google Earth KML files. I then process these by hand (or sometimes using GPSBabel) into XML, which I then load into Google Maps using my own Javascript routines. If my route is in my GPS, I can either load it directly into Google Earth, or via GPSBabel.

    I do it like this because I'm a Mac user, and Macs don't support Memory Map, Mapquest, Anquet and so on, so I'm forced to do things by hand. Then again, I'm a developer by trade, so doing things by hand is second nature and gives me maximum flexibility, so I'd probably go this way even if I had a PC. :-)

  5. I have just come across this blog as I am interested in the same subject. I want to be able to embed OS maps on my walking log in my website . I thought you would be interested in correspondence I have been having with Anquet and OS. See here:
    I think the Anquet MARS system looks promising and should allow us to embed OS maps with routes and hopefully photos onto a website without having to do the programming.

  6. Hi Michael and welcome to my world!

    It seems to me that at last the O.S seem to realise that people want to put their mps on their blogs / websites, but if that is the case then why don't they just roll over and die and let us do it our way? What I want to do is display my LEJOG Linear routes as I plotted and walked them on my Anquet Maps on my blog - and I reckon I shold be able to that quite simply and I do not see the need for all this fuss about putting my maps on other peoples servers who diplay them in a way that is not condusive to my needs.

    And the very idea of having to pay a license fee to the OS to do this I find amazing!


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