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Web person at the Imperial War Museum, just completed PhD about digital sustainability in museums (the original motivation for this blog was as my research diary). Posting occasionally, and usually museum tech stuff but prone to stray. I welcome comments if you want to take anything further. These are my opinions and should not be attributed to my employer or anyone else (unless they thought of them too). Twitter: @jottevanger

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

KML to go

Well I've finally bridged the gap between our site summaries (which have long been available online) and GMaps (likewise). I told part of the story earlier - the summaries that our archaeology service write are compiled into an XML document (processed out of Word via a macro...), and transformed into HTML with XSLT. But because the location data is always in OS grid references it's no good for online mapping apps (which all like latitude and longitude). So I've been trying to find a way to get lat/long for the sites (which number many thousands) in order to let us plot the data for World And Dog, if they're not otherwise engaged.

Step one was to get a way to clean up the TQ-style OSGB data. Step two, adapt code/write a web service to enable me to pass that lot in and get back latitudes and longitudes. From there I needed to combine the resultant XML with the original site summaries. I tried doing stuff with Yahoo! Pipes but it wasn't too keen on my XML, or at least it wouldn't show me the items. Anyway, instead of that I thought I'd draw both datasets into one XSLT transformation and output KML, which is what I've done today (thanks in part to the inspiration of Raymond Yee's great "Pro Web 2.0 Mashups" book from Apress). I would have liked to just pass in a single variable (year) and go through all these steps automatically but it wasn't worth the hassle since every step needed a touch of hand-massaging on the data.

The KML includes all the site summary descriptive content. Looking at the resultant Google Maps I see there are some glitches, like things in the wrong place, and things without coordinates, and actually I need to check out 1999 which has a fatal error somewhere. I don't have time to fix these right now, but overall I'm pretty excited: at long last, we have a nice mapping interface for the public to look at all those thousands of excavations, desktop assessments, surveys etc. that MoLAS has conducted since 1992 (but not 2007 yet). Well I say all, in fact some of those from outside the London area are not included.

Now I'm hoping that someone will come and do something cool with the KML. In due course I'll have a go myself, but if you come up with anything please let me know!

So here are links to the functioning maps. Save them to My Maps and do something with the result!

[Edit: you can also see these embedded into our website. Here's 2006]

MoLAS site summaries 1992
MoLAS site summaries 1993
MoLAS site summaries 1994
MoLAS site summaries 1995
MoLAS site summaries 1996
MoLAS site summaries 1997
MoLAS site summaries 1998
[MoLAS site summaries 1999 - bust right now]
MoLAS site summaries 2000
MoLAS site summaries 2001
MoLAS site summaries 2002
MoLAS site summaries 2003
MoLAS site summaries 2004
MoLAS site summaries 2005
MoLAS site summaries 2006

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