Realtime App v0.3

real-time app version 3 screenshotStill some problems of course, but check out the latest iteration of the real-time display app.

http://www.cincymap.org/rtv3/

New in this version:

  1. ┬áHeadsigns are trimmed and included. There is still some more cleaning to do though. Headsigns are quite inconsistent and I’m trying to just pull out prominent destinations.
  2. Heading arrows have been dimmed and placed behind the text headings. These only show up after all of the shapes have loaded. Clearly, there are some legibility issues right now, but I think the positioning is the way I like it and legibility can maybe be resolved with color changes.
  3. I’ve removed the randomly placed ‘vehicle locations’ that I’d been playing with. For now ;-)

Thoughts and comments much appreciated! If you follow the link above, you’ll be taken to a page where you can select stops. Pick one or a few and hit the button that says ‘use selected stops’. Then wait for something to go wrong and then tell me about it.

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Posted in: Design
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An update on the real-time display development

So, as you may remember, I’ve been tasked with developing a live display using SORTA’s real-time API. The basic idea is to put tablet computers around town in store windows, behind bars, on coffee shop counters, etc, which will alert people to the fact that there is a bus coming (they are almost always almost here) to take them where they might already plan on going. To that end I’ve been developing a web application that can run in a browser. When full-screened, it turns any monitor into a real-time display.

The tablets that we distribute to businesses will basically just have a link to the web-app stuck to their home screens. Which means of course that the tablets/laptops/typewriters y’all are using right now to read this can also function as a real-time display! Power to the people, I say.1

Well, development has been progressing more or less slowly over the last couple months (Did I mention that I graduated, got married (before it was legal!) and moved to another country? Well, I did. I’ve been busy.) but the app is finally ready to share as a beta version available at http://cincymap.org/rt/ .

Beta version of the real-time app

To get started, pan to your location (or hit the button that asks for your location) and select some stops. For the love of jesus, make them close together; I didn’t design this for crazy teleporting people2. Then hit the button to use the selected stops and the app will load arrival times for those stops and start refreshing them when new data is available.

One of my big goals for this app is that it should help show people what’s available and where transit is actually going, not just when the obscure number X local is departing northbound, so maps are a big part of this. Right now, I have the app displaying the actual route on a background of OpenStreetMap tiles, with the portion already travelled diminished and the part yet ahead in a darker color. The map also has a bit of animation going on to highlight the whole remainder of the route before zooming back into the immediate context of the stop.

I’d appreciate any constructive feedback suggestions that anyone has, but please keep in mind that I’m still actively developing this. If you’re about to suggest something obvious, I’m probably about to do it anyway. Keep the suggestions subtle!

Goals for the next few days:

  1.  Modify stylesheets to allow for portrait oriented screens.
  2. Find a tileset that I can use without bothering anyone. I’m pretty sure the OSM people will be a little peeved if I use the basic tiles in a production app. Something black and white perhaps?
  3. Remove the route numbers from all but the first departures for each route. The colors can distinguish for the rest, or perhaps I can just make the number a lot smaller to allow a bit more map space.
  4. Distinguish between arrivals that are real-time and those which are only scheduled. This shouldn’t matter once Gaslight makes an update to their API.
  5. Give an indication of direction for each of the upcoming arrivals on the right side. This matters a lot for two-way stop selections, but it’s not super obvious how to do it technically in a way that will give intuitive results. I’m thinking something like this.

Goals for the next month:

  1. Play with displaying vehicle locations when vehicles are off-screen. I’m planning to have this ready to present at the NACIS conference in Minneapolis this October. Right now I have the app generating random vehicle locations for the purposes of testing some ideas, until we get the vehicle locations API up and running3.

Show 3 footnotes

  1. and being a JavaScript-based web app, it’s implicitly open-source to the extent that my code comments can be interpretted.
  2. The basic use-case is a business on a two-way street with transit in both directions
  3. with JSON output
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Posted in: Data | Maps | Talking about Transit
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Businesses: request a real-time display

Design and development of the real-time arrival displays has finally begun!1

MetroNow App Wireframe

Wireframe showing basic layout of the display (draft)

And while that is ongoing, we are seeking early adopters to sign up to get a display for their business. The deal, in a nutshell, is this: we’re subsidizing the purchase of tablet computers set up to run a localised real-time transit display. Businesses will be responsible for somewhere between $20 and $40 of the cost of the tablet and will be responsible for maintaining it in a prominent location, with a source of electric power and a good wifi signal. We will help to supply mounting hardware, if needed, appropriate to the location. Businesses must be located on a fairly major transit line, preferably in a business district or an area with a lot of foot traffic. We’re imagining that tablets will either be placed in side-walk facing windows or placed prominently inside the business such as behind a bar.

If you’re interested in getting a display for your business, please email Daniel Schleith. He’ll get your information, answer any questions, and let you know when we’ve selected the lucky winners/trendsetters who will receive tablets.

(Please note that once the app is ready, you’ll also be able to run it in any computer with an internet browser, not just on these tablets.)

More info here.

Show 1 footnote

  1. Well, it actually began a couple weeks ago, and I haven’t had a chance to post until now.
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Posted in: Psychological | Talking about Transit
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Real-time display project funded!

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be spending part of this summer working with Daniel Schleith and Brad Thomas on a rather exciting project… Thanks to a grant from People’s Liberty, we’re going to have the opportunity to develop what I believe will be the first application to make use of SORTA’s recently released real-time data.

The goal of the project is to get real-time arrival displays into businesses along major transit lines. These will be privately owned and operated computer displays that ingest real-time data through the interwebs and display localized arrival predictions for nearby stops. We’ll be developing a display/app1, and subsidizing the purchase of tablet computers which can then be mounted behind a bar, in a shop window, near the door of the coffee shop, etc.

I’m sure I’ll have lots more to say here on the topic in the near future, but for now, I leave you with hope only.

Show 1 footnote

  1. F&OSS, of course.
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Posted in: Back to Basics
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