Friday, January 30, 2009

Facebook APRS integration

Today I released the Facebook aprs.fi map application. If you're on Facebook, you can use the application to show the position of your APRS tracker / vehicle on your profile page. Yes, you need to sign up on Facebook to get a glimpse of it. Sorry about that.

The map is somewhat configurable, supports several different map types, zooming, different measurement units and coordinate formats. It runs on the same quick and scalable backend servers with aprs.fi.

There are some issues with the combination of Google Static Maps and Facebook, so it might stop working once it becomes a bit more popular. We'll see later.

I'm sure a lot of you will shake your heads in disbelief, and quietly comment something about the uselessness of this feature, but let's face it, Facebook is a big thing, and I just wanted to try it out, see what's going on in there, and figure out how things can be integrated with it.

aprs.fi also has a facebook page now. I don't know what it's good for, but at least you can mark yourself as a fan of the site to show your support. And maybe exchange some related photos, links and videos there, or use the discussion board. I'm sure it has a better discussion board feature than this blog's comments.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just put it on my Facebook page. Need to adjust the zoom level though...
Doug, KD4MOJ

Erwin said...

I added this to my facebook, had antother plugin to show aprs, but this one is much better, thanks !

Daryl said...

Doesn't load a map. Am I doing something wrong?

Daryl de VK3AWA

Anonymous said...

Great, I like this FB app. Thanks!!

Benny said...

I added this app to my facebook profile. When I click on the link, I am taken to http://aprs.fi/?call=VK1IAN-9 and a map showing my location.
When someone else clicks on the link, the same http://aprs.fi/?call=VK1IAN-9 appears in the address bar but a screen asking for a callsign or nickname appears.
To go any further, the "guest" has to type my callsign in the box to get the map showing my position.
Interestingly, if that same user clicks on my facebook link later on, they are dropped straight into the map showing my position.
Is there a way for a Facebook friend who clicks on the APRS map in my profile to avoid the login screen and go directly to the map showing my location??

oh7lzb said...

Daryl: has it started loading the map yet, is it working for you now?

Benny: aprs.fi currently requires all visitors to enter their callsign or nickname once when visiting for the first time. It is supposed to be the name or callsign of the visitor, not the callsign which the visitor actually wants to track (that's entered later in the search box, or in the call= URL parameter). The visitor's name or callsign sometimes helps me debug problems with the service (to figure out which log file rows are related to a specific user), and generally makes me happy to see who's playing with the service.

I might later consider dropping the "login" requirement, but I'll be dropping it completely then, not just for the facebook visitors. I've been thinking about doing it anyway.

Anonymous said...

Can not save preferences and must load every time. Any suggestions?

Dreux
kb8yya@arrl.net

oh7lzb said...

Dreux: Please describe your problem in more detail.

Is this in the Facebook application, or aprs.fi itself? Both seem to work fine for me now.

What exactly do you need to load every time, and what do you mean by loading?

When you try to save preferences, is there an error message? What does it say?

Chris said...

I've got the same issue as Daryl. On my facebook profile all I get is.

"KJ4PZX-1 on aprs.fi map
2009-10-23 20:20:06 UTC
37.2723 N 80.0537 W EM97XG35NI
"

And right below that is where the map should be, but I'm only getting a red X like the image couldn't load

oh7lzb said...

Chris: Yup - there seems to be something wrong, but I can't figure out what it is exactly. If I select hybrid or satellite image now, it fails to show on the profile page. If I select road or terrain map, it works just fine.

The hybrid/satellite maps do show up on the application's configuration page, but not on the profile page.

Is your problem exactly like this, or different? If you select road or terrain map, does it work?

Chris said...

oh7lzb: I don't know what's going on... I'm using IE... Well anyways I had it set on Road maps and it did not work at all. (which is what I originally wanted it on)

So since you suggested trying them all. I tried each one. Once I got to Terrain it made it work, so I tried Roadmap again and it worked too. But Satallite and Hybrid did not (same results as you)

Im happy I got it working on Roadmap, not really sure why the other 2 aren't working.

oh7lzb said...

Chris: It could be something to do with Google's static map API rate limiting - maybe there are too many links to the static maps from Facebook.

Could you take a screen shot of the browser window while the problem appears? Press ALT + Print Scrn while the browser window is selected, and then paste (shift-INS) the image in Paint (or some other graphics program), then save as PNG or GIF, then mail it to me at hessu@hes.iki.fi?