FONFinder is Progressing!
It’s been a while since my last private, spare-time-wasting geek development project. In fact, it’s been so long that I even closed down the no.5 geekvault in the meantime! (It’s the no.5 blog’s equivalent to Google’s Google Labs – sorry for the shameless exaggeration )
But now, after all these months, I’m back! Working on a small geo-hack for mobile phones: the FONFinder. It’s a mobile mashup I’m creating upon request for a friend. He’s a FON user (or Fonero – to use the technically correct term), which means he’s sharing his wireless LAN access with other FON users, and in turn gets to use their WLAN for free.
He thought it would be neat to have an application or Web service to quickly find out where the nearest FON hotspots are while on the go – so that he could get free broadband for his WiFi-enabled Nokia N80. FON has their own Google Map where you can look up hotspot locations. But that’s useless on the N80 (and practically any other mobile phone today).
It mashes up stuff and APIs from several sources:
Mapping of street addresses to geo-coordinates is done using Google’s Geocoding API (which also works in central Europe).
Map base images are fetched via the Yahoo! Maps Image API.
The size of the map image is set dynamically, depending on the screen size of the mobile phone, thanks to the WURFL device capabilities repository.
FON hotspot locations are available directly from maps.fon.com in several formats, including KML.
All the rest (i.e. drawing the hotspots on the map image) is done in Java, with the help of a few open source libraries such as Apache XALAN for XPath querying and the JH Labs Java Map Projection Library, a Java port of the popular Proj.4 cartographic projections library.
The project is now 90% done. I’m still working on nice-ening up the graphics, using IP address lookup to pre-set the country in the street address form and (potentially) providing an alternative .WML version of the service for older phones that support color graphics, but no XHTML (again: thanks to the guys from WURFL!) So stay tuned if you’re a Fonero with a WiFi phone
ANOTHER UPDATE: I’m tracking bugs, issues and feature requests here.
Filed under: Development, FON, FONFinder, Geek, Geography, Java, LBS, Location, Maphacking, Mashups, Mobile | 5 Comments