Scheduled Search Outage

My hosting provider will be taking databases down for maintenance on Wednesday, December 12th, 2012 between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Pacific time. This will only affect the search feature; the rest of the site should be unaffected. Ω



Lots of tiny tweaks and refactors, hopefully all invisible.

I've dropped support for IE7, a 6-year-old browser which, according to analytics, accounted for about as much traffic as the site was getting from gaming consoles. XP users should upgrade to IE8... or a browser that's been updated this decade like Chrome or Firefox. (XP itself is over 10 years old at this point, but I'm still developing on it!)

Oh, and a new data drop from Don so fire up your nitpicking keys! Ω


T5 Second Survey Data

As part of an ongoing development process for Traveller 5 the data set for all worlds in the Imperium are getting reviewed. With help from Don McKinney, the latest data is now live on the site. Thanks to everyone who's been contributing nitpicks and reporting errors - this information has been fed back into the process to help make sure the new data set is as high quality as possible.

The following sectors have been updated, baselined at 1105:
In addition, the following tweaks have been made:
  • Added "Reavers' Deep" and "Reavers Deep" as aliases
  • IFRAME no longer steals focus (which fixes the API page to not scroll down on load)
  • Speaking of the API page, it now links to the correct AotI coverage area
  • Fix Egyrn Subsector's name (thanks to Makoto MACHIDA for commenting)
Many of the data changes will be intentional, but obviously with this volume of cleanup there will be further glitches, so start the bug reports coming!



Data Updates

Thanks to Don McKinney, data for the following sectors has been updated:

These should match the latest published data and are aligned with the T5 data cleanup. The updated Ley Sector data and slightly routes match those in Mongoose Publishing's Minor Alien Module 1: Luriani which is now available for purchase.

Other tweaks:
  • Rendering: the space behind starport classes is now blanked out so they should be more readable if they overlap routes. (Does not apply for filled borders or candy style.)
  • You can now specify routes=0 (API docs) in image APIs to suppress rendering routes at any scale



Service Outage: Oct 31st

The travellermap.com site will be offline for several hours in the evening (Pacific Time) of Oct 31st, 2012.

The hosting provider is upgrading the host machine.


Good news everyone! Following the upgrade, my monitoring site is reporting 99.9% uptime, which is a significant boost. I'm not counting any chickens, but the new hardware/software has definitely improved things.



Image Regression Tests and Text Quality

I've started to put together a quick and dirty image regression test - an HTML page that will load a set of image pairs and generate a third image showing differences between the two so it's easy to spot changes - for example, if I intentionally moved a glyph up a few pixels (good) or introduced a bug so that gas giants stopped rendering (bad). If the images match perfectly, nothing shows up in the diff.

Call for input: what other URLs would be good to have in a corpus of tests as reference images?

While building this I compared my development machine vs. the live site, and was struck once again by how badly the text rendering is done on the server since it stands out in the image diffs. I was able to make a one line change which dramatically improves the text and glyph quality, so if you've saved off any bitmaps recently you probably want to redo them. It's embarrassing that I didn't do this earlier!

I also enabled CORS headers for image generating APIs, but that's probably not of use to anyone unless you're using WebGL to render map tiles or some such.



Style Tweaks

Another item crossed off the to-do list - borders and routes now have a maximum width when you zoom in, and text has a maximum font size. I'm actually not sure I'm totally happy with this, as it means that everything looks a bit spindly when you are at 256 pixels/parsec. So I'll probably revise things over time. Previously, once you hit 64 px/pc everything just got bigger, except for the UWP which appeared at 128px/pc (wedged in uncomfortably), so zooming was relatively "smooth", especially on touch devices. In any case, this doesn't affect anything at 64 px/pc and below, so most users won't notice.

Perhaps more subtle but affecting more users: I reduced the width of borders and routes very slightly and adjusted the shade of blue used for "wet" worlds to better match the Spinward Marches poster. I also tweaked the parameters for Candy style a bit and made its legend more relevant.

Additionally, I restored a fix that had been lost at some point: the images used in the legend are no longer rendered live but use static resources to reduce server load.


Since I was there, two more fixes:

  • Tweaked base positions so they're better positioned at every scale
  • Made sure sector borders are always thicker than subsector borders.



Rendering Order

Prolific nitpicker 77topaz pointed out that subsector names render on top of borders. That's not new, but I agree it's not ideal given that the subsector name is less critical than the world details at large scales. Sector and subsector names used to render at the same "layer". I've split them up.

Here's the new order, starting at the "back":
  • "nebula" background (Candy style only)
  • "galaxy" background (spiral arms)
  • pseudo-random stars
  • rifts (which black out the pseudo-random stars snd backgrounds)
  • "macro" borders
  • "macro" routes
  • sector grid
  • subsector grid
  • parsec grid (hexes)
  • subsector names
  • "micro" borders
  • "micro" routes
  • sector names - which need to be on top of borders/routes to be legible at relevant scales
  • "macro" capitals/home-worlds
  • "micro" government names
  • worlds
Changing the order is pretty straightforward so suggestions are welcome.

Note that individual words are rendered a hex at a time. In the future I'd like to do this in multiple passes, so that for example all zones are rendered, then all names so that zones don't overlap long names of neighboring hexes.

Unrelated: thanks to cubiq.org if you visit the touch map on an iOS device you'll now get a pop-up letting you know you can add it to your home screen as an application.



Cursors and Glyphs

More To-Do items To-Done:

  • The mouse cursor over the map is once again a crosshair. When you start dragging it will change to a drag-hand.
  • Per discussion in a previous post, base symbols have been overhauled and the legend has been updated. Following precedent in paper publications from the CT and MT eras, there is no attempt to make map symbols universally unique. For example, non-Imperial naval bases all use red stars  regardless of allegiance (Vargr, Aslan Tlaukhu, Solomani, Federation, K'kree, Droyne...). I've tried to follow established precedent wherever possible.
  • In addition to Research Stations, symbols are now rendered for Imperial Prisons (code: Pr), Imperial Reserves (code: Re) and Exile Camps (code: Ex), following the Spinward Marches Map symbology.



Base Codes

Hey folks, I need your help.

Base codes need some work. Here are some of the issues:

  • Droyne base codes P and Q don't have unique symbols
  • Solomani Naval bases (code F per David Pulver's updated Solomani Rim data) should have a red star to match Supplement 10
  • Generic naval base (classic code J) doesn't have a unique symbol
  • Generic scout base (classic code V) doesn't have a unique symbol
I put together a spreadsheet of base codes and symbols showing what the map uses today, what it should use, and what needs to be sorted out, as well as precedent from previous publications. Can you help suggest additions or corrections? Additional symbols can be used, although I'd prefer to mix/match the existing orthography and normal/highlight colors (i.e. white/red for poster style). Nothing crazy.

The "Pattern" column may merit some explanation. It is used to match Xx.B where Xx is the allegiance code and B is the base code. Symbols * and ? are wildcards (matching anything or one character, respectively), so A? is "any Aslan", V? is "any Vargr", and * is "anything". A suffix of >CD means that code B decomposes into two additional codes, for example code A in classic files is handled by the pattern Im.A>NS meaning "if allegiance is Imperial and code is A, that's really an Imperial Naval Base and Imperial Scout Base". Newer files may encode this as NS directly, so this is only needed in parsing older files.

Anyway... suggestions/corrections appreciated.



Rendering Refactor and Custom Jump Maps

One commonly requested feature is now live: Custom Jump Maps

Just as the Poster API supports HTTP POST, the JumpMap API now supports the same capability and there's a demo page that lets you upload files or copy/paste your own sector data into a form. Note that neighboring sectors appear empty if your jump map is extends past the edge of a sector.

I've also done some substantial refactoring of the guts of the rendering and styles code, which may help site stability a little bit. I found/patched a bug in the PDFSharp rendering library along the way. Ideally this hasn't changed anything, but please let me know if something suddenly renders differently (color, position, style) or has disappeared - it's not intentional! 



Making a Dent in the To-Do List

I had a little bit of time today so I decided to make sure the To-Do List was updated on Trello. This should cover everything that's been mentioned in comments here and sent in private email. If I missed anything let me know - or even better, sign up to Trello and I can let you add it to the list yourself.

I knocked off a handful of easy items:
  • Subsector names will once again show by default at 64 pixels/parsec (although dimmer than before)
  • Subsector names will NOT show by default for Poster.aspx-generated images, although this can be turned on via options
  • Decoding of "packed" base codes (2 = N+S, A = N+S, B = N+W) now handles per-allegiance specific packing: Vargr: H = C+G, Aslan: U = R+T, Hiver: F = L+M
  • Allegiance code "--" doesn't render. (Perhaps it should show as "Na" so it isn't assumed to be Imperial, but -- is usually only used far away from the Imperium so I don't think it's an issue.



Sector Data Additions

A handful of new sectors have popped up on the map.

First, Katoonah, a sector rimward of the Hive Federation. Katoonah was explored by Dale Jenkins and his sons over the course of a year of gaming. They completed the exploration of the sector a scant two months before the tragic death of Dale's son Thomas. The sector is dedicated to the memory of Thomas W. Jenkins and his love for Traveller.

A brief summary of the sector polities and species, provided by Dale:
The Geanak Republic is populated with Geanaks. They resemble the minions in the game Overlord, except they are more intelligentand far less suicidal. The Human League is a Solomani extremist union. The Sylvan Alliance is a melting pot of Sylvans (Space Elves), Drea (Space Dwarves), Suerrat (Space Halflings), Kkang (Space Knolls) and Griznak (Space orcs). The Draconian Empire is based off a Solomani Asian Dynasty, and for the most part peaceful. The Reaver Bands are a mottley collections of Psycopathic Space pirates much like those found in the Hardtimes Data provided by GDW.
Thank you for sharing, Dale, and my sincere condolences to you and your family. I hope others can enjoy the sector as well, and keep Thomas in their thoughts.

Elsewhere on the edges of charted space, prolific explorer 77topaz (and nitpicker!) has opened up explorerbase and provided details for the following sectors



Data Updates

I've finally had a bit of time to make a minor dent in the backlog!

  • Corrected spelling of "Capitol" => "Capital" in Far Frontiers sector remarks so that Harantz and Alzenei are properly highlighted (c/o 77topaz)
  • Updated data file for Empty Quarter (c/o Alvin Plummer and Don McKinney)
  • Added subsector names for Gzaefueg (c/o Alvin Plummer)
  • Added subsector name for Ilelish subsector O: Zagrab (from the Zhodani Base, c/o Alvin Plummer)
  • Credited Greg Videll (HIWG) for Zarushagar sector work
  • Corrected Corridor 2006 Tamilaa's base "G" => "N" per Atlas of the Imperium (c/o Dan Holmberg)
  • Renamed Gelath/Gn'hk'r 0704 "X!'kib'grikr" => "Aat Nokr K'ng" per GT:AR2 (c/o Alvin Plummer)
  • Fixed names of Dagudashaag 0236 "Kinhe" => "Feym'n", 0739 "Hanas Soujourn" => "Hana's Soujourn" and 0840 "Uusjar" => "Uushar" per Signal GK #11 (c/o Art Gorski)
  • Fixed name of Reaver's Deep 1224 "Roikhoi" => "Roakhoi" per the Reaver's Deep Sector Sourcebook (c/o Dan Holmberg)
There's a lot more to do, of course, in terms of data corrections and feature work. And, of course, overall site stability.

Also, the LBB generator ("sector.htm") now uses a more print-friendly layout and should automagically print in landscape mode with correct margins in modern browsers. (It will look best if you have the Optima font available on your system.)

NOTE: Some of the search indexes don't appear to have updated for the above changes. I'm investigating.


IE8 Fixes

Ooops - I broke search, credits, and a handful of other features on IE8 recently.

Fixed! Sorry about that, and thanks for the bug reports! Ω


User Guide!

Hey, look at that - in a blog post over on Panzerboy Discontent, drkem99 wrote a user guide (of sorts) for travellermap.com: http://www.panzerboydiscontent.com/website/2012/04/03/ Cool! I'll have to go through it in detail to see what parts of the interface are confusing. Ω


Client Code Update

I've just pushed a set of updates to the client files - the HTML, JavaScript, and CSS that makes up the pages. This affects the main page, the iframe page, and the touch page. These now all share common logic which will make updates easier. The visible changes are:

  • Intermediate levels are used when zooming in with the mouse wheel. This may mean that the "Scale" field in the control panel will go blank, but if you're using the wheel you probably aren't using the drop-down.
  • When zooming, the previous image tiles are used until the new tiles load. Combined with the previous, this means zooming is much smoother. 
  • The credits display at the bottom of the page (which shows credits, sector data, world data, and one-click generators for LBBs and Posters) now [EDIT: Based on feedback in the comments]  tracks your mouse hover coordinates updates on click/doubleclick/drag rather than just what's centered on the page.
  • When you zoom by double-clicking or using the wheel the mouse position is retained, so you can "zoom in" on something that isn't centered.
  • Added Facebook and Twitter buttons next to the Google Plus buttons.
  • The "you are here" and overlay URL parameters from the iframe API can be used on the main map page. 
  • Tweaked the [-] and [+] buttons in the control panel to be the same size. Yay for

Note: I only tested as far back as IE8. According to analytics, I have a small number of IE7 users. If they report problems I may be able to fix it, but only if they complain. My testing on browsers other than IE,  Chrome and Safari (iOS) has been limited, but Firefox and Opera are usually pretty well behaved.

As always, let me know what I broke and I'll try and fix it quickly.

EDIT: Remember to mention which browser+version and which operating system+version you're using, too.


In other news - no progress on the outages. I've found and fixed a couple of bugs with cached state handling but I still see the service going down when usage is high. I have monitoring set up now so that as I make changes I can have a higher confidence that they haven't made things worse.


Service Outages

Apparently there's a lot more traffic than normal to the map site, and it's causing the server to restart on a fairly regular basis. It's not clear what the cause is at the moment - likely a resource leak or some other bug that's not usually obvious on the site.

My apologies for the inconvenience. I may need to shut some services down to try and isolate the problem. Ω


Another Non-Update

Nothing to report yet (June got busy!) but I have been doing some behind the scenes work.

The tiled, dragable map display logic used for the main map (and iframe) and the touch version were completely separate code. If you've played with the touch version you know it has some nicer features, such as intermediate zoom levels and using available images while others are loading so zooming in is a much more pleasant process. I've been working to unify the code between these, and it's almost done - I just need to get the overlay and the you are here features for the iframe API ported over and I can push the update.

As a side effect, this will allow devices supporting touch events (iOS, Android, etc) to interact with the main map page, although the interface will still be kludgy. That'll be the next thing to fix, followed by those data updates I was promising. Ω



Sorry about the lack of updates recently. Home and work have been quite busy lately and there's usually a baby sleeping next to my dev box.

I'm penciling in a weekend in June to do some work on the site, including: world data tweaks (per comment threads), border updates, and back-porting some of the "touch" code to the main page for smoother zooming. Ω


Julian Protectorate Routes

More data cleanup happening - see the comments thread at http://travellermap.blogspot.com/2012/02/data-corrections.html:

Mike Kuehn submitted trade routes for the Julian Protectorate - that's Amdukan, Mendan, Ingukrax and Star's End sectors, with a few tweaks in Antares and Empty Quarter. Ω


More Data Cleanup

Thanks to the sharp eyes of commenters like 77topaz and research by Swiftbrook and others, several more data glitches have been identified and corrected:

  • Gateway Domain - Gateway, Crucis Margin, Glimmerdrift Reaches, Ley Sector - checked against the Gateway to Destiny: The Gateway Domain Sourcebook, name truncations fixed
  • Far Frontiers - polity capitals are now highlighted
  • Ilelish - truncations fixed (guesswork)
  • Yiklerzdanzh - truncations fixed (present in source SEC file as an appendix)
  • Spica - bracketing characters in names removed (were these formatting codes for some program?)
  • Vanguard Reaches - truncations fixed - sector file was regenerated from Chuck Kallenbach II's source data 
There are a few more things that need fixing, and certainly more sectors could use a once-over. As an administrative note, data glitches like repeating names or bogus UWPs will not be corrected on a world-by-world basis for any of these regions:
All of these vast regions are, at best, placeholders. Should you wish to "claim" a sector and give it a thorough scrub and provide background, go for it.


Spinward Marches 1105

The Spinward Marches has been updated (backdated?) to 1105 to match the other data updates, bringing it in line with the T5 Spinward Marches poster by FFE. The updated data is courtesy of Marc Miller, Donald McKinney and Robert Eaglestone. This includes the sector data and metadata (routes and borders).

In addition, where the "Sector Data" link was at the bottom of the map has been replaced by two clearer links: "Source" which takes you to the published source of the data (if any), and "Data", which serves up the SEC data used by the site itself.

I'm sad to report that, as part of this cleanup, the anomalous jump-5 X-boat route between Tenalphi and Strouden that's been with us since Supplement 3 is no more. It's been replaced by a jump-4 route between Tenalphi and Persephone. Gone are the days of envisioning it as everything from an experimental route to a spatial anomaly. At least in the OTU...



Data Corrections

Thanks to Don McKinney, I have updated data for the following sectors:
In addition, I made some individual world tweaks:
The truncated names appeared to be a result of passing the data through a fixed width data handler at some point before the files came to me. It's possible there are others - reports welcome!


Trying out Trello

I'm giving Trello a go as a shared/hosted bug tracking / wish list tool.

Go to the TravellerMap.com Wish List Board

Does this work for you? Try adding some items and comments. To much structure, not enough? My other options include a shared Google Spreadsheet, or a the bug tracker in a code.google.com/p project. (even though the site's code is not hosted there).

What are your thoughts?



Rendering Fixes

Two quick rendering fixes.

  • With "World Colors" checked, white-on-white worlds (e.g. Spinward Marches 0622 in Print style) should now have an outline
  • Borders are now rendered as closed paths, which means small gaps near the "start" of each borders should be gone
The latter one was actually a substantial effort, but it's been sitting unpublished on my dev machine for some time now and I think I'm happy with the change.


CORE / Stellar Data

The data for a number of sectors was based on Jo Grant's CORE data repository. Unfortunately, they were not taken directly, but from another map site, which had filtered out the stellar data. I've gone back and pulled data from the original sources for:

  • Aldebaran (with Home 1009 added)
  • Amdukan
  • Arzul (Ingukrax)
  • Astron
  • Banners
  • Canopus
  • Esai'yo
  • Faoheiroi'iyhao
  • Ftaoiyekyu
  • Fulani
  • Hkakhaeaw
  • Iphigenaia
  • Langere
  • Neworld
  • Star's End
  • Theta Borealis
  • Touchstone
  • Ustral Quadrant
The following sectors are based on the CORE data but already had stellar data, and also had trade codes/comments generated so I left them alone:

  • Hlakhoi
  • Iwahfuah
  • Staihaia'yo