North Auckland Line [0G]: Volume 1 Progress Update 7

Good afternoon. Since our last update, we have completed and released Volume 6, which is also our first volume to be released on our new website. All future releases will appear on the same website and it offers us a number of benefits such as being able to create high resolution maps that are able to show significant detail very clearly. In addition, we may well upload some of our source images in the future, although it is early days yet in terms of what the website is being used for.

As we stated earlier, we are now moving onto Volume 1, but at the same time taking a break from mapping for a week to catch up on other things, so don’t expect to see any new maps appearing before then. But once we get into it, we will be progressing the maps fairly rapidly for this volume, as we are calling it a “Basic+ release”, which means we will mainly be documenting the present state of the lines without much historical detail. However we have previously (last year) prepared mosaics of a number of yards and these will be included. We have also been preparing mosaics of all of the line that is in Auckland with continuous historical corridor coverage from Westfield to Newmarket, the Newmarket Branch to Auckland, and Newmarket to Waitakere, as well as stations from Waitakere to Waimauku. But in order to keep the maps rolling along at a quick pace for this release, we won’t be actually documenting what is down on the ground in those historical aerial photos, except for the Ellerslie Racecourse platforms, the Mt Albert ballast pit, the Swanson Deviation, and the location of any non current stations, bridges and tunnels, as well as the current ones.

As of today we already have the aerial mosaics prepared as far as Ranui, and therefore just have to complete the Swanson to Waitakere and Waitakere to Waimauku aerials, which will be going on low key over this coming week and will be the only work done on maps during that time. We’d like to think it should be possible to have Volume 1 completed and released a month from now. After the long drawn out production of Volume 6, which resulted from there being so much to document within the suburban sections of Wellington, Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt, as well as significant historical routes, we are very much looking forward to a quick production of Volume 1. The more in depth coverage of Volume 1 will be carried out at a future time after all 12 volumes have been completed at a basic level as outlined in our project development roadmaps (these are currently hosted on the old blog, but they will be moved either to this blog or to the website in the near future).

Over that month we are also looking forward to getting our website fully set up properly. We have decided to sign up for a paid hosting plan with SmugMug for the NZ Rail Maps website, and this enables us to use our paid domain name with the site. For the first few months we will be renewing monthly until we can put aside enough to renew annually. The domain registration is also due for renewal later this year and will be renewed for another three years since it’s three years since we first registered it. SmugMug is not the be all and end all for hosting this project – it can’t completely integrate all of our content, for example we don’t expect to be able to migrate this blog to it at this stage, however we haven’t had time to fully explore its capabilities. It won’t be able to store PDFs so they will have to be hosted elsewhere, but there is little demand for these and creating them isn’t a high priority. However its capabilities are a reasonable compromise between cost and the benefits of having a pre designed solution with all the various wizards, which means we spend less time in setup and maintenance – a full website would cost more and require a lot of setup time which we aren’t able to commit to. SmugMug is a good choice because it is linked with Flickr, and that means a lot of its user interface is very like Flickr which we used to host our content on before the free option was cut back a few years ago when SmugMug purchased it.

So we trust that by the time we are ready to release Volume 1, we have become more competent with the website and have customised it a lot more than is the case at the moment. This will include seeing how much HTML based content it can host, and therefore whether we can migrate any blog content there as well. We also have the intention by that time of having fully migrated the content stored on this blog, on Blogger, and on Google Photos, that needs to be on the website, to there, and having changed various links to point in the right directions. In the meantime, this blog still has all the old pages and content appearing on it, that can still be linked to from old posts on the Blogger blog and Facebook page etc. You won’t see any links to those pages from the current home page of the blog (http://nzrailmaps.wordpress.com) but the pages still exist and can be accessed from existing links that have been published elsewhere.

See you in a week 🙂