Map data

Do you have a map and flight plans?

I received this question multiple times and I promised that it would come, but it would take some time to implement it the way I wanted it to be.

I had a few goals:

  • Visualization of the total route on an interactive map
  • Visualization of each individual leg with possibility to implement static images into this WordPress blog (it doesn’t support embedded scripts)
  • Easy and automatic interpretation of my Plan-G flight plans, so I only have to synchronize my plans to update the interactive map
  • Possibility for followers to download the flight plans

Quite a wishlist, but in order to get this working good, I had to make sure that these goals were met. So instead of flying new legs these past days, I have spent multiple hours behind my computer to write some code.

May I announce you…

I’m proud to present you the FSX World Tour Maps page. Following the METAR Search & Decode page, this is the second related “micro website” which includes all above functionality and supports the FSX World Tour website by providing useful content and map data. I hope this page can be an interesting addition to our flight simulation world tour and gives a better idea about where we are and what direction we are flying.

Each flight report on this websites includes now a clickable static map image of the flight (because I can’t embed interactive Google Maps in WordPress), which links to the related FSX World Tour Maps page with usual map interactivity like zooming, panning, … On this page, there’s also a download link next to each leg with the Plan-G flight plan, which can be exported to FSX, Prepar3D or X-Plane compatible flight plans. All flown legs are displayed on this page, including the complete route to the last flown leg.

After completing a flight, the only thing that I have to do, is let the Plan-G flight plan .plg file synchronize to a predefined folder and the page will automatically find it and add it to the overview, which can generate a map for the flown leg or updates the map with the complete route (click for more interactivity):

Live tracking from flight plan data (http://maps.fsxworldtour.com)

Nerd talk

For those interested, the FSX World Tour Maps page relies on following technologies to get the task done:

  • HTML5
  • CSS3
  • Javascript
  • jQuery
  • Bootstrap
  • PHP
  • Google Maps API & Google Static Maps API

Google Static Maps, for including static map images in a web page, has only one setback. The URL query string limit is 2,048 characters (web standards), so that means there’s a limit to visualizing complete routes. The precision of latitude and longitude coordinates for static images is rounded to a lesser precision to allow more waypoints, but I calculated the static image API is limited to showing routes with up to 150 waypoints (estimated). The normal Google Maps API (with embedded interactive map) has – as far as I know – no limitations (or they are too high to be of any influence), although to avoid an overload of displayed markers, we might add a clustering functionality in the future to group markers in certain regions, which expand when zooming in.

Can I have it?

Of course! … But not right now 😉 I’ve put a lot of work in this tool and because I still have a long way to go with the world tour, I want to keep this self-developed functionality a little longer exclusively for this website.

But no worries! I’m preparing a package for everyone to use. I will make it as user-friendly as possible, but some knowledge of PHP and web servers is required to get it working (I don’t have the time to make installers or configuration scripts), so you will have to get your hands dirty. 😀 Keep following this website (or any of the social channels in the bottom right corner) to know when it’s available.

In case you can’t wait, have the required knowledge to obtain the client source code and you can fill in the gaps of the server-based source code, be kindly enough to include a link to www.fsxworldtour.com to show at least some appreciation for the sources that you copied.

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