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N.B.: This may not be exactly the right place to ask this, but I'm looking for suggestions from a community who would use this sort of thing and here is the best one.

Out of this question, I am now creating a site for worldbuilders to upload and edit their maps. Problem is, I don't know exactly what would be useful in such a site. The basic requirements set out were:

  • Allow me to upload a map of a world (either URL or file, I don't mind).
  • Allow me to tag/label that map, to mark the locations of thing (either plain text, or URL links).
  • Host the image.

Bonus:

  • Let me change/update the image without wiping the tags (as the map becomes more detailed)
  • Allow multiple people to edit the tags/labels.

Fair enough, I can implement all of those. But that makes for a pretty basic site without much functionality apart from that. So I'm looking for suggestions from you. The people who would use this. What other functionality could it have?

Wouldn't reject offers of help if they want to come along, either...


UPDATE as of 06.12.2014:

The server is running and good, the front page is well on the way. This is the design phase which may take longest but once it's done I have a template and other pages will start going up much faster.

Next things to do:

  • Finishing CSS and design.
  • Build other pages and upload
  • Finish server-side control code

The current version can be found here.


UPDATE: 07.12.14

Simple one: Added the Contact Us page and server control. Same place as last time.


UPDATE: 17.12.14

Full user registration/login/logout functionality is now in, along with all the server relationships and the beginnings of an upload screen.

Anyone interested can now register.


UPDATE: 28.12.14

The upload section and associated code is up. Actually editing the map you upload is currently impossible, but that's also the most complicated bit. It's next on the list.

Existing users: the upload section currently may not work for you: the database was offline while I was developing so I couldn't grab usernames to create folders. However, when it's back online I'll put them in.


UPDATE: 04.01.14

New section: metadata editing. You can now title and describe your maps. The only thing left to do is the main editing section, but that's coming on well.

A job for the community: as per this post, go and break the site.

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  • $\begingroup$ Mourdos won't see the ping as he hasn't been active on this question. He should see the link you posted in his own question though. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Dec 1 '14 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ This sounds like a really useful product, I'd also be happy to help depending on what technologies etc you have in mind :) $\endgroup$ – Tim B Dec 1 '14 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ Of course, forgot that mechanic was on SE. It'll be mainly HTML, CSS, JS with some bits of PHP for database stuff and saving the uploads and other data files. $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Dec 1 '14 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, it will be fairly light on the server and heavier on the front end. I'd probably do it using Java and MongoDB for the back end, but there's no reason PHP and SQL wouldn't work. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Dec 1 '14 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ They might be better for all I know, but I can't really use them when I've had no experience with them :) $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Dec 1 '14 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ I'm here. This is going to be awesome :-) When this gets done, I'm going to add a bounty to my question and award it all to you. $\endgroup$ – Mourdos Dec 2 '14 at 9:43
  • $\begingroup$ It may be a while in the making (I'm running a sound job) but I'll post updates here. $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Dec 2 '14 at 10:09
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB: Are you ok to help out or is it the wrong tech stack? $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Dec 2 '14 at 11:30
  • $\begingroup$ PHP is the wrong tech stack, I can possibly help out on the front end side though or if you wanted I could do the server (in Java) and you do the front end. Where in London are you based? $\endgroup$ – Tim B Dec 2 '14 at 11:36
  • $\begingroup$ The server can't be reconfigured for Java (at least not easily). Front end help would be good though $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Dec 2 '14 at 23:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Mourdos: Update #1 is here $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Dec 6 '14 at 22:54
  • $\begingroup$ Nice site you got there ! $\endgroup$ – Vincent Dec 7 '14 at 4:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Mourdos: Here's something else about this site $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Dec 14 '14 at 14:30
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    $\begingroup$ This site seems to be gone now. If that's expected please update the post; if it's unexpected, well, now you know. :-) $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Nov 28 '17 at 17:21
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    $\begingroup$ This site has been offline for a years now. A meta question about it does now exist: worldbuilding.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/6001/…. $\endgroup$ – Orphevs Apr 15 '18 at 11:35
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I'm just kibbitzing, so treat this as an idea rather than a user request.

If you are thinking of this as a mapping service in particular, rather than an image-annotation service that people can use for maps if they want, then it seems like it would be handy if a user could indicate a route (by successive clicks, presumably, since to you it's just an image) and be told a distance. Bonus points for "Distance N, N1 along roads, N2 through woods, N3 through mountains", etc, if the creator annotated terrains so you can figure that out. That would help game-masters and authors make travel times more realistic.

Obviously for this to work the creator of the map would have to indicate the scale, and you'll want to think about projections for whole-world maps. (Is everything Mercator or do you support others? If the latter, the creator of the map has to specify how he drew it.) If you do anything with projections I recommend defaulting to "hey, this is just a flat regional map; treating it as a rectangle is fine" and letting the creator get fancier if he wants to. If I upload a map of my one region or continent I probably don't mean to have it morphed around a very small planet. :-)

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  • $\begingroup$ Can't say I've looked into supporting anything in particular; for the development I'm just assuming a single image file uploaded which can then be annotated. I like your idea of distances along a route though, perhaps I can combine this with some user-entered methods of travel and their speeds to come up with journey times, $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Nov 29 '14 at 23:29
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    $\begingroup$ That would be cool. The user can compute times given distances, though, so if you didn't do that it would still be possible. On the other hand, trying to count up distance along a usually-squiggly line is hard for people to do, so if you can provide that it's a real win. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Nov 29 '14 at 23:31
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    $\begingroup$ Sure, given the successive clicks method I can compute it using triangles which is easy from my point of view. I like it $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Nov 29 '14 at 23:33
  • $\begingroup$ I agree, this would be a really good feature. If the map maker can label areas as different terrain - then just list the terrain type and distance for the route....i.e. 3 miles forest, 4 miles plains, 6 miles hills, etc $\endgroup$ – Tim B Dec 1 '14 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ Users can then work out travel times/road modifiers/etc themselves (at least in the first version) $\endgroup$ – Tim B Dec 1 '14 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB yes, that's what I had in mind -- total distances broken down by terrain type, if the creator annotated the terrain types. (It should just use whatever labels he used, not try to normalize to a certain set of terrain types. Your world might have roads, grasslands, and woods while mine might have forests, dryad-forests (slower going because you have to be careful to not damage anything), badlands, and so on. The labels are just labels. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Dec 1 '14 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ (Heh. Who knew that Worldbuilding Meta would be a place for software design? :-) ) $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Dec 1 '14 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ This is for version 2. Do not take on too much in the first stage. $\endgroup$ – user3106 Dec 10 '14 at 10:54
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    $\begingroup$ @JanDoggen right, this is just initial idea-generation. It's valuable to gather lots of input early even if you aren't going to implement most of it, just to help avoid a design that precludes doing an interesting feature later. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Dec 10 '14 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ I would also appreciate your opinion on this question $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Dec 14 '14 at 14:31
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Being able to hide and reveal parts of the maps/annotation layers/etc would be helpful.

As an added plus having a DM layer only visible to certain users would also be really good.

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  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by DM? $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Dec 1 '14 at 14:41
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    $\begingroup$ Dungeon Master, in a lot of cases you have someone (whether the writer, Game Master, Dungeon Master, etc) who has full information on the world but then everyone else is exploring it and finding out that information over time. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Dec 1 '14 at 14:46
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    $\begingroup$ Excellent suggestion. Optional layers for more detail, the popular view (versus actual -- think early world-exploration maps), the secret game-master view... all important, but not always available to all. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Dec 1 '14 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ Love the hide/reveal layers option. That would be great for building from fault lines all the way up to city skyscrapers. $\endgroup$ – Jerenda Dec 3 '14 at 18:49
  • $\begingroup$ I would also appreciate your opinion on this question $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Dec 14 '14 at 14:30
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Map Items

Well, as an urban planner who 'makes maps' almost everyday, I am not sure what everyone's needs would be in a world-builder, but here are the layers (as suggested by Tim B) that can be turned on and off, and also interchangeable so that one can be 'above' another, or moved 'below' another. From the bottom layer:

Land (and sea, mountains, etc: geological features), Infrastructure & Roadways (including paths), Vegetation and Landscaping, Plots/Building Footprints/Buildings

Also, another additional item to your annotations might be 'designated' areas as polygons or shapes, such as environmental reserves, settlement growth boundaries, maybe even zoning. Well now that I think about it, there are a lot of features to map.

Layers can have metadata embedded, and points, lines, polygons can have colors attributed to them, which can be changed.

User Tools

I'm looking at ArcGIS right now (description), and it includes as standard tools (there are thousands): Zooming/WorldView, Info (you click on a feature and it tells you all the metadata about it), and an Editor to change the points, lines, and polygons.

There's a publishing function ("Layout View") to switch to where you're preparing a map, with a legend (your layers), scale, north arrow, title, etc. Each can be modified.

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