NZ Rail Maps Project Development Report [2020M]: New Web Maps Site To Go Live 1 January 2021

Good morning. As can be seen, this is only the second update for December so far as the project management has been very busy as is common for this type of year. A considerable part of this has been tied up with migrating the affiliated converser.nz website to a new web hosting platform. This work is material to the NZ Rail Maps project as posts from this blog are syndicated to converser.nz and as this is a “dummy run” for the migration of this web site and blog to the same hosting platform. As a part of that, the affiliated Christchurch Transport Blog was taken out from the umbrella of the the converser.nz domain name and given its own domain.

Whilst map completion has been slower in the period, it has been decided to freeze map development as of today and start building the new web site. This is enabled by a decision to create the maps not as a volume, or a section of New Zealand, but as a continuous set of maps for the whole country, which is much easier to do in the web maps system than the old way that maps used to be produced. Since the creation of maps will be ongoing, there is no benefit to withholding the completion of map creation work until any particular point in time, regardless of specific goals or objectives for completion of a particular area or section. This is an important consideration because it has been frustrating for project management to see the next webmaps update take longer than expected to be completed.

The change in tempo therefore now is to commence build the new web site on a new hosting platform (Dreamhost, which is the same one that converser.nz now uses) and upload the web maps based on the current level of map creation which has been frozen as of today. Project management is working towards a goal of having the new site go live at 1 January 2021.

It is important to emphasise that the web site itself, as well as content, will be incomplete at that time, with a number of user interface features still to be developed. The intention is also to get as quickly as possible a set of basic maps for the whole of NZ up on the site and then fill in additional (intermediate/comprehensive) coverage later on. The web site will look very much like the most recent preview (Volume 6) on the current site in terms of its user interface.

Overlay Webmaps Development Preview – Greater Christchurch [5]

Good afternoon and here is this week’s update on the webmap development preview for Greater Christchurch.

Since our last post a lot more work has been completed on the Main South Line section and accordingly it is in fact complete except for any errors that are discovered and need to be resolved. Work has also completed on nearly all of the Main North Line part of the Greater Christchurch rail corridors and will be finished by the end of this week. Map drawing is going ahead quickly after solving some technical issues with the GIS software platform.

When we create the actual preview, which we hope will be finished by Christmas or the end of the year, there will be a couple of additional developments to implement.

Firstly that we are considering evaluating another hosting platform. This will not change the current form of the maps, i.e. webmaps, and it will run in parallel with the present web hosting platform whilst we evaluate a full migration by the third quarter of 2021 because we will have to decide which platform is more suited to the product. There is one advantage of the current platform that they have a base in NZ but that is just one consideration.

The second is that we will move towards integrated seamless maps that cover the whole country, not a country divided into 12 volumes. Historically we have used the 12 volumes because of technical limitations both for the physical publication at a reasonable size, and because of issues with the software’s own resource limitations. The likely outcome is whilst the webmaps will be integrated seamlessly into the whole country, the map development will continue to be in 12 volumes as well as hardcopy publications. However the public will only see integrated webmaps and 12 physical volumes produced. There are a lot of issues integrating supporting resources that we have edited into a seamless single set of webmaps so this is not so straightforward to bring together. Fortunately we only have this small part of the maps fully developed for Greater Christchurch and will be moving into other integrations as each set of maps is developed. We will probably move to create basic diagram webmaps for the whole country first and foremost, and then work on the rest of the webmaps over time.

Overlay Webmaps Development Preview – Greater Christchurch [4]

Good evening. Since the last post nearly 2 weeks ago work has focused on completion of the aerial mosaics, and with the ongoing work taking a lot of effort, these mosaics are still a wee way off completion. The current rate of progress is:

  • From Heathcote to Addington and from Hornby to Templeton on MSL has been updated with newly available 1946 / 1955 aerial photography that has recently been added to the Retrolens website.
  • From Templeton to Burnham this new coverage is not available but a number of issues with the existing completed mosaics have been resolved and maps have been drawn in all of this section.
  • Only from Middleton to Sockburn out of the Greater Christchurch area of the MSL has yet to be updated with the new aerial coverage mentioned above. New coverage has been added into the Hornby to Lincoln corridor where applicable.
  • Work is yet to begin on the Main North Line section of the maps.

A more realistic target is at least another two weeks to complete all mosaics and perhaps a week of map drawing and another week of webmap generation so it is certainly hoped that this project will be finished by Christmas. After that a break will be taken over the holiday period as it has been an intention to take some time to evaluate further directions for the project before rolling out more areas of the maps, including developing some automation techniques for generating segments.

Overlay Webmaps Development Preview – Greater Christchurch [3]

This post is a series on the development of a new web maps preview for the Greater Christchurch area. The creation of this preview is currently intended to be used to promote the utility of the maps for the Greater Christchurch area, to give access to historical and current day information about the Greater Christchurch, to promote rail development initiatives in Greater Christchurch, and to evaluate the suitability of the technical structure of this particular preview for deployment of the full web maps site.

This is a general progress report as to where things have got to since the last update. It was resolved to try and include as much coverage of Greater Christchurch as possible within this preview, since the delays in creating it had led to the suggestion that some of the region might be excluded in order to meet a deadline. However it is clearly understood that a deadline is necessary because other commitments exist in light of the whole project and the completion of this project is holding up other related work that is not directly part of this project but falls more within the objectives listed in the first paragraph of this post. Hence close attention is being given to a balance between a reasonable completion timeframe and making the preview incorporate as much of Greater Christchurch as possible.

After the second week of preview creation work, the focus has again been on creating the aerial photography necessary for the completion of the Greater Christchurch web maps preview. No maps have actually been drawn in the past week with all work being done on the aerial photos. Quite a lot of new aerial photography for the 1950s has recently been added to the Retrolens site which has impacted on parts of the Christchurch aerial mosaics that are being prepared in various areas. The mosaics for Middleton through to Islington have just been completed and the overlaps between different sections are currently being adjusted before they are imported into the GIS. Hornby to Lincoln is almost complete and work is about to commence on Islington to Burnham and Addington to Kainga.

The next progress update should take place a week from now and it is confidently expected to be able to report that all aerial mosaics have been completed and map drawing will be well underway. Accordingly, the new timeframe for completing the web maps preview has been extended to approximately the end of the third week of November.