Tag Archives: google maps

Proposal: generate KML from postcodes in Twitter messages

Here’s an idea I’ve just had, and mentioned on Twitter:

It would be cool if someone with the necessary skills and bandwidth could provide a service which takes a Twitter search (say, for a hashtag), extracts from it , or postcode districts (the first half of a postcode, such as “B44”), and returns a corresponding KML file, which can then be passed to other services, like Google Maps.

It would enable anybody to create a service like Ben Marsh‘s excellent #UKSnow map, but on the fly, and for any term or hash-tag; and especially for one-off or short term issues. Imagine, for instance, the . I could post on Twitter, say:

I just saw a #ShootingStar in B6!

(I did, too!) and others might reply:

I saw #ShootingStar from Waverley Station, EH1 1BB

Good view of #ShootingStar in S9, too!

and we’d very quickly have a map of places from which it had been seen — in the event, such information was posted to Twitter, but there was no easy way to collate it.

A similar service, returning KML for geo-coded tweets, would also be useful, and internationally too, and something combining both might also work.

A task for an upcoming hackday, perhaps? Or one you might like to tackle…

Google Maps’ microformats: unhappy anniversary – still broken after three years

Three years ago today — on 31 July 2007 — Google proudly announced that they had added hCard microformats to Google Maps, so that, as they put it:

your browser can easily recognize the address and contact information in the page, and help you transfer it to an addressbook or phone more easily

Less than four hours after seeing a mailing-list repost of that announcement, by Google‘s Kevin Marks (one of the two signatories of the initial announcement), I replied, pointing out that the implementation was badly broken, and that none of the microformats in a search for a single entity, in this case a school, were valid. (As is usual on Google’s own blogs, there was no facility for comments on the original announcements.)

Google‘s Gregor J. Rothfuss, the announcement’s other signatory, replied that he would look into the matter.

Almost a month later, I asked Gregor if there had been any progress, and he said (I quote him in full):

i will work on it when i have some time.

so I took him at his terse word, and left him to it, with no further reminders. That’s the last I heard from anyone at Google on the issue.

Three years on, though the specific faults have changed, not one of the microformats in the Google Maps search linked above is valid (the mandatory “fn”, or “formatted name” property is missing; address components lack the mandatory child-properties) and I have been unable to find one that is, in other results. They are as useless to someone wanting to add the subject’s address to their address book today as they were on day one.

Update, 31 July 2011: Another year has passed, the microformats are still broken.