BlogLoc (Still a Working Title)

26May08

All right. As I said in one of my last posts, I really want one of those maps on my blog’s sidebar where I can share my current geographical location, directly from my GPS-enabled mobile phone.

I also said that there are several tracking services out there that give you a mobile client and an embeddable Google Map to do that. But these don’t work for my hosted WordPress blog, since wordpress.com blocks all JavaScript content and inline frames. And the mobile phone clients I’ve seen so far deliver a user experience and UI that’s far from great.

Sure, it’s only a matter of time until the existing services come up with slick mobile clients, complete with animated GUIs, eye candy and stuff. And until there’s a simple static image API for people who can not (or don’t want to) rely on a full-blown embeddable Google Map. In other words – I should just sit back, wait a few more months, and then pick the first solution that’s available out there for my blog. But then again… that would be boring, right?

That’s why last weekend I started to build my own personal GPS-phone-to-Web tracking solution. Say hello to BlogLoc (still a working title)! BlogLoc consists of two components:

  • A simple service on the Web that stores user locations and provides a basic, static image API. To use the API, one simply needs to embed an appropriate <img> tag. The service will provide an image consisting of a detail map (street level scale), an overview map, plus an indication of when (and how) the last update took place. Below is what you get when you insert my location using

    <img src="http://geekvault.no5.at/blogloc/img?user=rainer&quot; />

  • A small (around 25kBytes) Java application for mobile phones that makes uploading the GPS location from the phone an (almost) one-click process. The client should work on pretty much any phone that supports JSR-179 (“J2ME Location API”). If your phone is Java-enabled, and has built-in GPS, chances are it will work just fine. (I’m using it on the Nokia N95. Screenshots are shown below.)

The whole thing is still in “closed beta”, meaning it’s not quite ready to accept users just yet. I’m still working on some missing parts (like a decent BlogLoc landing page for example), and plan to add a few more necessary features (e.g. a Web/map front-end where users without a GPS-enabled mobile phone can set their location manually; also, I’m considering a non-JSR 179 version of the mobile client to be used with Bluetooth-capable phones and an external GPS unit, in case there’s demand for that).

In any case, I’d be happy to hear your feedback and whether anyone else is interested in using this as well. (So far there’s at least one request from a hard-blogging friend of mine 😉 )



5 Responses to “BlogLoc (Still a Working Title)”

  1. nice work!

    have you thought about implementing fire eagle?

    afaik using twitter to update your location and fire eagle to handle your geo-privacy and map output should work too…

  2. Hi Christian!

    Good point! Actually I have thought about Fire Eagle integration, both for the “downlink” direction (i.e. building the map based on your Fire Eagle location) and for the “uplink” (I guess I could use my J2ME client to send updates to Fire Eagle).

    Unfortunately though, they don’t seem to be willing to send me a beta invite right now…

    I also thought about direct twitter integration: e.g. an option to register with your twitter username, and BlogLoc would follow you and scan all your tweets for Location info.

    Damn… so much to code. So little time…

  3. Very cool. I have been keen to do something like you suggested with twitter and google maps but havent found the time to look into it. I will definitely be looking to try your app on my n95.

  4. Excellent site, keep up the good work

  5. Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I in finding It
    truly helpful & it helped me out much. I am hoping to provide something back and help others such as you helped me.


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