Mapcodes: launching my new website

What do you think about mapcodes after visiting overhere.co.za?

  • I'm already using mapcodes

  • I'm interested, I'm going to start using mapcodes immediately

  • I'm not sure, still making up my mind about it

  • I'd rather use what3words

  • I'd rather use Google Plus Codes

  • I'd rather use a different short-code system (please share)

  • I'm still confused about what mapcodes are


Results are only viewable after voting.

Foxhound5366

Executive Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2014
Messages
6,433
#1
Hi guys and girls,

So some of you might have seen me asking for advice on my new site, and I'm launching it today: www.overhere.co.za

Despite all the technical guidance I got (I'm going to keep working on that input), if something breaks for you please let me know and I'll fix it.

A few years ago I shared a thread about mapcodes on here and people seemed a bit confused by it, so this time there's a working thing for you to play with and see what it can do and the kinds of integration into Google Maps or anything else you want you can do.

My poll here is about mapcodes themselves, but I'm also keen to get your guidance on the site itself! I know there are some rough edges (that's what you get from doing it all yourself), but hopefully the concept works?
 

saor

Honorary Master
Joined
Feb 3, 2012
Messages
18,704
#2
Simply search and/or drag the marker to whichever address in South Africa* you’d like to be able to easily share with others
So I've generated an address, how do I share it with the person who's about to leave their home to find me? Assuming they're using a phone to navigate.
 
Last edited:

R4ziel

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
967
#3
I have worked in IT for a very long time as a server admin, and I had some trouble figuring out what I had to do to get a mapcode and how to use it, so I don't know how a regular user will react to having to scroll up and down between pages to get the information. You might want to look into a smaller header image and making the information formatted a bit better to make it more accessible for people

It's a great idea, but sending a mapcode to anyone not familiar with such systems will be fruitless
 

_kabal_

Expert Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2005
Messages
2,582
#4
probably missing a poll item

"I don't think shortcode systems are necessary"

Obviously, someone needs to break ground on these things, but the fact that there is no one-click integration for what3words, or mapcodes, in for instance google maps makes them a pain to use.


It's a real pain to have to go to some 3rd party, enter your address, or select on a map, to get a code, to then use somewhere else.


that said, for some super rural places that don't have roads/addresses, maybe these things are slightly better than GPS coordinates
 
Last edited:

saor

Honorary Master
Joined
Feb 3, 2012
Messages
18,704
#5
It's a real pain to have to go to some 3rd party, enter your address, or select on a map, to get a code, to then use somewhere else.
Another issue is the standalone usefulness of the information. If someone is leaving to find my house and I send them one of two ways to find me:

1.) 30 Mybroadband Road, Cape Town, or
2.) K35 M22

The street address is useful by itself. They can arrive here and ask for directions at a shop or use any map app or map book to further navigate. They can climb out their car and walk until finding #30 Mybb Rd. K35 M22 is completely arbitrary without being filtered through a very specific portal. It also requires explaining beforehand how it works and the person needs to go to a website and do this thing and those hoops etc. Unless this mapping protocol is built into most navigation systems and mapping software I can't imagine ever needing to use it.
 

R4ziel

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
967
#6
Another issue is the standalone usefulness of the information. If someone is leaving to find my house and I send them one of two ways to find me:

1.) 30 Mybroadband Road, Cape Town, or
2.) K35 M22

The street address is useful by itself. They can arrive here and ask for directions at a shop or use any map app or map book to further navigate. They can climb out their car and walk until finding #30. K35 M22 is completely meaningless without being filtered through a very specific portal. It also requires explaining beforehand how this works and the person needs to go to a website and do this thing and those hoops etc. Unless this mapping protocol is built in to most navigation systems and mapping software I can't imagine ever needing to use it.
I feel the same way, you need a specific "decrypter" of sorts to make it to workable information. T0he code itself is only useful if you know how to use it. If I give my map code to friends or family to find me, they will have no clue.

Like you say, giving the address is a standard that works without having your phone/gps application with you, and everyone can understand it

TBH I don't feel mapcodes will make life easier for anyone, although I applaud the effort for change I don't think its necesarry
 

Foxhound5366

Executive Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2014
Messages
6,433
#7
Thanks for the feedback guys :) Usability for the site is one thing I'm still working on, so I was interested to hear the feedback that it seemed difficult to generate a mapcode. The website needed to fulfill both a 'service' role and an 'educational awareness' role, which is why I had to create that interim landing page between a user selecting a location and actually generating their mapcode ... else people with no exposure to the system wouldn't understand what they were doing, why, or why what they were receiving is useful. I might need to tweak it more, if usability is a common consensus.

For the people who think that physical addresses are a reliable form of navigation, how many people drive to new locations armed with only the mental knowledge of a physical address and nothing more? I have a lot of personal cases where you can ask people on the side of the road where something in that area is, and they all just don't know because who memorises physical addresses around themselves? Unless you have stellar local knowledge, you're going to get seriously lost. Relying on a mapbook is just essentially an 'address translation system' anyway, albeit of the offline variety ... and mapbooks aren't great for navigating because they don't take into account road upgrades or current travel conditions, and generally can't be used while actually driving (not safely anyway). They're useless for off-road navigation when the physical addresses end (unless you're handing out grid references).

Where mapcodes come in handy is for all the other use cases: for example, 'on the ground', where street addresses are non-existent (most of our fine country actually - I live on a plot, and you don't want to know how hard it is to get delivery people to me) or just terrible (there are so many cases of streets with jumbled or incomplete numbering). Don't brush over that, genuinely think about it: how are you going to guide people to a specific bush in the middle of the veld in 7 digits or less, via a code they can write down by hand?

Or how about in the preparation phase, where you're trying to communicate a precise physical address over the phone (good luck reading out lengthy physical addresses and spelling out Alpha-Lima-Papa...), or even when you're wanting to enter something into your car GPS (it's shorter to enter RYX.2P than "30 Lynwood Road, Faerie Glen" one digit at a time. My website compounds the benefit of mapcodes by allowing you to enter two mapcodes and immediately see the directions between those two in Google Maps ... good luck getting two Google Maps pins and then getting the average consumer working out directions between them.

On the last point, I had to travel to somebody recently and they shared their address with me via a mapcode on WhatsApp, and before leaving for them I just copied and pasted it from WhatsApp and into the 'Use a mapcode' feature on www.overhere.co.za in the Driving Directions section, and it kicked into Google Maps and took me straight there ... it was utterly painless. Yes you can also share a pin location with people, but a pin is only useful if both parties have an electronic means of transmission and receipt. You can send a mapcode by SMS and decode it later, or scribble it onto a piece of paper, and achieve the same pinpoint level of accuracy as if you'd written down GPS coordinates (which you won't do because nobody is that masochistic).

It might interest some people that TomTom satnavs already support mapcodes natively, so if you'd like you can pop one straight in. The only reason Google Maps doesn't support it natively is Google is trying to push their own Google Plus Codes system, but my website gets around that quite easily thanks to the personalised links it generates based off lat-lon conversion.

Finally, the key part of this for me is not that I have the perfect implementation of mapcodes. Rather, I've simply aimed for a workable showcase that can continue to start conversations like this. It is child's play for a developer who is working on call centre applications, for example, to integrate mapcode conversion into lat-lons via the free, public domain Mapcode libraries (the same as I did), and from then on that entire call centre just has an extra way to receive pinpoint addresses from the public. And that speaks to the last post above me: a mapcode by itself is just that, a code. That's why when my website generates mapcodes I even provide a 'Word of mouth' suggestion for how people can communicate not just their code, but the fact that it can be interpreted on my website ... it's an awareness challenge to overcome, and it starts one place at a time. This is only the start.
 

R4ziel

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
967
#8
@Foxhound5366 I read your response and wanted to quote certain parts to comment but that post disapeared.

It seems like you are really set in your ways and good luck with that, we gave you feedback that we see from a user perspective and it seems you feel we are wrong.

You say you live on a plot and its hard to get someone out there to deliver, sure, i get that. In that use case it would be useful to have exact co-ordinates. How often do you think that happens? Do you think it would be worth all the effort to re-do the systems to support map codes so you can get your delivery?

Out of interest sake I asked some people around the office here what they know of map codes and explained to those who didn't know what it was how it works. All of them asked why not just use a physical address? You are going to have a hell of a hard time convincing people otherwise.

When I use my GPS I use it on my phone and I use it a lot. The thing is, when I need to go to a client and I don't have my phone with me, its easier to remember what street and area they are in, than remember some random numbers, I'd much easier be able to look up an address I partially know rather than have absolutely no knowledge.

But hey that's just from my perspective, if it works Ill use it when it becomes a standard, if it doesn't work ill still get where i'm going
 

Foxhound5366

Executive Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2014
Messages
6,433
#9
I'm sorry if I came across as confrontational R4ziel, I'm really passionate is all and I have been thinking about this for years already :) I am utterly convinced there are great use cases for this, far more than I've thought of but even those that I've thought of make me really excited about it.

People in the UK already have a postcode system that guides you to doorsteps: the only difference is that those postcodes are issued by Royal Mail and are individually registered (and then absorbed into GPS databases). When I travelled around London it became my preferred way to get to new places: just typing the short postcodes into a satnav and getting straight there, and just completely ignoring the physical addresses in places I had no clue about. That's what started my interest in address shortcodes ... and I then discovered that mapcodes had been invented AND made freely-available, and the rest is history :)

You ask how often does my use case exist: I'd say it exists in more cases than it doesn't. Privileged city folk with great addresses are lucky, but most of our country is NOT a city, and one spot on the N1 highway looks a hell of a lot like another. Even more so one spot in the Karoo vs another. And if you're in a maze of a city, a hard to decipher physical address is a terrible code anyway. A mapcode will get you to an exact spot, on or off-road ... hell, you could order a pizza while you're sitting on the beach in Durban and get it delivered straight to you in the middle of a crowd (within less than a 5m radius). There are plenty of use cases there, we just have to look for them.

How about people going around conducting polls in townships? Are they going to write down GPS addresses at each location they visit, or simply open the Mapcode app on their phone and write down the mapcode for each shack they visit? People back at the office can then use that to pinpoint their exact movements. It's actually very low-tech and it just works with today's free technology. There's not a lot of effort required to re-do systems: I managed to create that entire website by myself in two weeks, including teaching myself the necessary back-end code.
 

Spacerat

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2015
Messages
804
#10
I like the concept of a mapcode (the concept is pretty old though). OP did not 'invent' it. He is passionate about it and built a site to support and promote it. Don't get why many of the posters are trying to discourage him using it. Use it or don't. Personally, I find having to enter a lat/long on any device a real PITA. Even more so on the dedicated GPS devices with the different formats. A mapcode would be way easier.
 

Foxhound5366

Executive Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2014
Messages
6,433
#11
Thanks Spacerat :) I just added something nifty to the site tonight: a 'detect my location' button for mobile devices, that works with the HTML geolocation API. I thought "Hey, if somebody is lost they can't find themselves on a map, but if they could have their location detected and be provided with a mapcode that they could communicate to somebody else, then that person could find them easily."

It just makes it easier to use on-the-fly ... you can walk around with your phone and generate mapcodes without having to be able to precisely identify your own location on a map, which is the whole point of GPS in the first place. I can think of other use-cases that opens up now, although I agree I gotta refine the design further this weekend.
 

R4ziel

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
967
#12
He is passionate about it and built a site to support and promote it. Don't get why many of the posters are trying to discourage him using it. Use it or don't
I never tried to discouraged him from using it, he asked for feedback and I gave him some from an actual users perspective that I thought would be helpful. Great ideas are brilliant and I applaud him for trying to make this a standard, but not listening to feedback from anyone and then going all out to "sell" the idea is not a great way to get people interested in anything.

Again, When it becomes a standard and everyone uses it it will be great. If someone sends me a mapcode one day Ill know what to do with it, but I am sure as hell not going to send a mapcode to someone and then have to explain it when I could just send him the address to wherever.
 

Foxhound5366

Executive Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2014
Messages
6,433
#13
I never tried to discouraged him from using it, he asked for feedback and I gave him some from an actual users perspective that I thought would be helpful. Great ideas are brilliant and I applaud him for trying to make this a standard, but not listening to feedback from anyone and then going all out to "sell" the idea is not a great way to get people interested in anything.

Again, When it becomes a standard and everyone uses it it will be great. If someone sends me a mapcode one day Ill know what to do with it, but I am sure as hell not going to send a mapcode to someone and then have to explain it when I could just send him the address to wherever.
Um, how do you think change happens R4ziel? You didn't like me selling the idea to you ... should I rather have had a good long cry and deleted the website? :p I care about what everybody thinks, and was honouring you with a detailed response raising some points you might not have considered. Again, I'm sorry if you interpreted that as confrontational, I was just engaging with your points.

And why not challenge yourself personally to be part of the change, if you do see the value in mapcodes? Imagine early cavedwellers saying "Well I can see the benefit of fire and I now know where to get it, but I'm not gonna use it or tell anybody else about it."

Let's be the change, as Obama encourages.
 

R4ziel

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
967
#14
Its funny how you assume I don't like change, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

Good luck with your conquest. Ill use it when it becomes standard and everyone understands it. Until then Ill still find the places I'm going to.
 

Foxhound5366

Executive Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2014
Messages
6,433
#15
Its funny how you assume I don't like change, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

Good luck with your conquest. Ill use it when it becomes standard and everyone understands it. Until then Ill still find the places I'm going to.
No worries R4ziel, we'll get there :) Just remember the site the next time you're struggling to communicate a precise location to somebody (overhere.co.za - kinda catchy yes?) and you'll at least have another tool available to you. That's all I'm providing: another option. It just happens to be an option that also enables its own unique use cases, which you'll discover as and when life happens.
 

R4ziel

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
967
#16
Just remember the site the next time you're struggling to communicate a precise location to somebody (overhere.co.za - kinda catchy yes?) and you'll at least have another tool available to you.
I will definitely ensure I use your tool one day when that situation arises, and I will make sure to give you feedback or let you know that I needed it.

I have also sent the link to a few friends and contacts that might be interested, they seem to get what do do with it so we'll see.
 

Foxhound5366

Executive Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2014
Messages
6,433
#17
I have also sent the link to a few friends and contacts that might be interested, they seem to get what do do with it so we'll see.
Hey that's awesome buddy, thanks! I really appreciate it :) The more public awareness there is of this technology, the easier it will be when it starts gaining serious traction in South Africa.
 

3lOH55A

Expert Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2008
Messages
3,513
#18
We go bundu bashing quite often. This will come in handy to send exact location data. Thanks

Post is on the 4x4 community forum!
 

Foxhound5366

Executive Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2014
Messages
6,433
#19
We go bundu bashing quite often. This will come in handy to send exact location data. Thanks

Post is on the 4x4 community forum!
Awesome! Let me know how it goes in the wild, literally.

Most directions with Google Maps - which I integrate into - would rely on roads, but they do have a "navigate by foot" option as well.

Especially with the new "find my location" button I added last night, I think it could be really handy to give you a precise Mapcode in the middle of nowhere. You could feasibly write down a bunch of mapcodes at various places and then get back to them easily ... or at least get a sense of where they are on Google Maps.

I'm keen for use cases and will be tweaking the site constantly based on feedback.
 

RedViking

Honorary Master
Joined
Feb 23, 2012
Messages
14,240
#20
I've tried the mobile website. Don't think I will find a use for it at the moment. Most people with a smartphone have access to Google Maps. Google has a feature 'location sharing' that will send your current location straight to a friend and they can just open it on their phone. They don't need to memorise anything but just click the link. You can also use short codes (plus codes) with Google maps. Don't need a long address or coordinates, just give someone the plus code, specially in a rural areas with no landmarks or street addresses.

I think Google Maps does everything your website does, plus much more and user friendly. For example, type this into Google Maps:

HCMV+F8

It will take you to a spot next to a river in a Game Reserve.
 
Top