January Hangouts: Designers & Developers

The Wikimaps Creative Communities met online on the 7th January. It was the second event for the Designers & Developers community and the Wikimaps Nordic community met online for the first time.

Designers & Developers

Arun Ganesh had prepared a presentation of the Wikimaps Atlas for the event, but technical obstacles prevented it from happening. The project is a newly funded Wikimedia IEG project. Arun and Hugo Lopez will create a set of up-to-date maps and tools for easily creating maps on demand. They will work on Wikimedia-specific map styles, and look after the implementation of the maps in the Wikipedias. We’ll be hearing more from them!

Type in a different language code in the input box, hit tab and see what happens. Project by Arun Ganesh.

In the discussion we aimed at framing the scope of the Wikimaps tools project right. We had two key topics that we wanted to tackle:

  1. How shall we deal with the integration of the Wikimaps tools in Wikimedia
  2. We must start with use cases to come up with the most important tasks

Talking about cropping

Dan Michael O. Heggø told briefly about his experiences with OAuth. This way, the Wikimaps tools could be external to MediaWiki, and the user could authenticate in the external tool using their Wikimedia credentials. Dan has created a tool for cropping images in the Commons, the Crop Tool.

The crop tool in your Wikipedia toolset

The discussion drifted to cropping or not cropping maps for example when wanting to stitch several map sheets together. For this, we have a common understanding: You must not crop a map before uploading it to the Commons! You can make another cropped copy of the map. A special template can be made to maintain the connection between the images. Or you can use the cropping tools in the Warper, to mask undesired areas. We made note of the need to highlight different areas on the map image, such as the legend, or the scale.

We noted that images or maps can already be annotated in Wikimedia Commons, using the ImageAnnotator. There are other great projects dealing with map annotations, like the MapHub project and the consequent Annotorious project.

This again lead to a discussion about identifying and collecting place names on a map – or using place names as a means of roughly geolocating maps. There are academic and governmental place name repositories, that could all be taken advantage of. We are touching this topic in the Wikimaps project further along our roadmap, in the Wikimaps Gazetteer project. Even though it is not in the making yet, ideas about it are more than welcome.

Talking about use cases

As a commentator put it in the Etherpad for ideas about Wikimaps Warper: What’s it for? Who’s going to use it? What are the key things users want it to do?

Rectifying maps in Wikimedia Commons is a facility many people may be interested in. The users may be archives, who want to have volunteers rectify their maps, or they may be historical mappers who look for appropriate old maps to use as information source. And many others.

We can see that there are users that are interested in the pixel – often the case of the archives – and others that are interested in data. For example, you can calculate travel times along ancient routes if you have extracted roads from the map images as vector data. See for example http://omnesviae.org/ , http://orbis.stanford.edu/ and http://vici.org/.

The maps in the scope of the Wikimaps may also cover undermapped areas of the world, as brought up by Jaakko Helleranta, who works with Humanitarian OpenStreetMap in Nicaragua. Tim Waters showed us http://maps.nypl.org/relief, a version of the MapWarper that was used to georeference maps of Haiti in the earthquake relief.

You can join defining the use cases in the Wikimaps Design page. And please, ask for editor rights here to tell about your experiences or projects with historical maps. Comments and discussion are welcome! You can also read the meeting minutes.

Thank you for participating in the January Hangout Jan Ainali, John Erling Blad, André Costa, Tom Fish, Arun Ganesh, Harald Groven, Jaakko Helleranta, Yuwei Lin, Dan Michael Olsen Heggø, Pekka Sarkola, Manuela Schmidt, Rob Warren and Tim Waters!

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