Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Proof of concept

Update: It now works for IE users (and Safari, probably). Gosh, you're all so needy. Here's a full screen version.

I think the Garmin Forerunner is cool by itself. It solves one of the larger problems I had when I ran a lot: knowing exactly how far you ran on a run. I used to rely on Microsoft Streets and Trips and its measuring tool, but, even then, the results were probably pretty far off. I had been contemplating the purchase of the Garmin for a while.

But, while reading up on it, I saw that it was possible to export Forerunner data to XML. This makes it oh-so-much more interesting for the techie, as I can now parse the resulting XML and use the data. Back when I had those big plans, I was going to write a hack on top of Terraserver, overlaying a PHP-drawn path onto the individually accessible tiles and assembling them to make a map.

But in June, Google Maps released the Google Maps API, which makes it oh-so-much easier. I just create a line of lat-long points and throw it on. It's all done with client side Javascript. Every thing on the server (my server, anyway. Google's is actaully providing the map) is static.

Yesterday, I took the Forerunner out for a trial run. Above, you can see a map of my 4.5-mile bike ride around the Googleplex.

Think Billy from The Family Circus. You can also see a bigger version.

I'll put more work into this stuff when I get the chance. Feel free to look at the source (the iframe above and the bigger version are the same page. The body element and the map div are both set to take up all available space in the page).

The line is actually pretty accurate. The line doesn't follow the road at some points, but that's because I was on a bike path that ran close to, but not next to, the road. It even caught the fact that I rode up the wheelchair ramp next to the Googleplex. It's also a bit off on the swirl on the top of the hill, but that's because of the visual shearing caused by the height of the hill. It's done with aerial photographs, but the images you see are almost never from directly above.
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